Car sharing in San Francisco seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?

The City of San Francisco prides itself on its Transit First policy, a concept that emerged over 40 years ago to ensure that urban development focused primarily on public transport solutions to tackle the city’s congestion problems.

In this vein, two such initiatives have been recently adopted. One was to tighten controls on car park allowances for new apartment developments. Currently the ratio is one space per apartment, but there are projects where this has been reviewed to half a parking space per apartment.

The second initiative, which started with a pilot program in 2011, was to provide for dedicated, unmetered, bays for vehicles as part of a city-wide car-sharing program.

 This month, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have incorporated both initiatives and passed an ordinance to allow residential developers to exceed their cap in new apartment buildings, provided those parking spots are dedicated to car-share programs. This was seen as an incentive to developers to help expand the successful car-sharing program.

Strangely, opposition has come from the Sierra Club, an environmental organisation based out of San Francisco. In a letter, club secretary Sue Vaughan said the plan “will add to overall congestion and negatively impact the flow of transit and air quality.”

The SFBOS countered these claims by offering studies that show each new car-share vehicle replaces between eight and ten private cars. In fact, a UC Berkeley study found that after signing up with a car-sharing program, almost half of households with a car got rid of their vehicle.

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