There are thousands of parking spaces in a city. But when we need one, it feels like there are none. This can lead to circling around endlessly. And when we finally find that vacant space we’re jubilant – that is until those pesky questions arise. How much is the space? Is there street cleaning today? Now you must ensure that there aren’t any regulations that could cause ticketing or towing. We’ve all made that mistake.

Take San Francisco for example. Transportation can be an inconvenience, especially since public transportation is complex and parking is at a premium. There are 471,388 registered vehicles in San Francisco alone, but only 441,541 public parking spaces available. And these numbers don’t include commuters or tourists who come to the city every day. On average, meters cost $0.25 for only 8 minutes – making the city over $88 million in 2013 from parking citations alone. San Francisco was recently rated the number three worst city to find parking in the United States – from both a supply meets demand and cost perspective.

Parking spaces are a vital part of urban living. A city must have enough parking spaces to provide their residents and visitors a place to park at any given day and time. While services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have gained overwhelming popularity, not everyone can sell their car and rely on these peer-to-peer offerings. Public transit in San Francisco is limited based on where you want to go and doesn’t always run on time. It’s also difficult to carry all your groceries on a bicycle.

If we are largely left with the option of using our cars, where do we park?

The Solution: Share Your Parking

Thanks to collaborative consumption, there’s a promising solution to the lack of available parking – and it lies in the private sector. Consumers have become more comfortable with the idea of connecting with strangers to rent their belongings (from homes to cars, and more), and sites have emerged solely focused on connecting parking spot owners with drivers.

Here are a few tips on becoming a private parking sharer:

  1. Pick where to list: Identify where you’re going to offer your spot. There are traditional offline places like community bulletin boards and newspaper advertisements, or online destinations such as CARMAnation and Craigslist.

  2. Identify spot specifics: Is the spot at your office or in the driveway at home? Is it covered in a garage or in your driveway? When will you make it available? There are critical pieces of information that you will need to share with future renters. For example, the type of vehicle that can fit in your space and the best way to enter the location. Make sure to know all the details before listing your spot.

  3. Are you allowed to share?: It’s critical to know the laws associated with sharing a spot, if you don’t own the property where it’s located. For example, certain landlords forbid more than one car being parked in a tenant’s parking space. Learn about city regulations, your lease rules or company policies before making your spot available to others.
  4. Name your price: How much are you offering your spot for? Are you giving it away for free? Finding the right price is key to attracting renters. Check pricing in your neighborhood and price your spot accordingly.

  5. Provide a detailed description & use appealing photos: The way you describe your spot is going to be key in getting someone to rent it. Be detailed on how they will go about entering the space, and what it looks like. Using photos adds a personal touch to your description and provides color for what they can expect to see in advance of reserving.

  6. Location, location, location: It helps to have a spot located in a tourist-friendly, or difficult to park destination, and if yours isn’t, use your parking summary to explain why your neighborhood and spot are better than others.

  7. Be a good host: Think carefully about your responsibilities as a host. Hosting offers rich experiences, but it comes with a certain level of commitment. The better you host, the more attracted people will be to your listing. Ensure the space isn't obstructed by objects and that the renter has easy access. Do your part to make sure their parking experience is a good one and they’ll be more likely to rent from you again, while sharing their experience with friends.

  8. Talk about yourself: It’s always good to share a few details about yourself when participating in these types of services. Most of us will have spaces in apartment buildings or houses, and therefore will have drivers entering our personal space. Putting a face to the spot makes you seem more trusting and welcoming. Therefore, fill out profile descriptions as much as possible if you’re using online sites.

  9. Build a strong and more trusting community: Once someone has successfully rented your spot, be sure to rate the experience and provide them with a thoughtful review. Doing so helps inform the next person on what they can expect, and as a whole, makes for a stronger community. If you’re not using an online service, share your positive experience offline to friends and family in case they’re interested in listing a spot in the same venue as you.

Life is to be enjoyed and not spent circling the block. City parking pains can be resolved from one peer to another. By sharing, you can increase the amount of available parking throughout the entire city without adding to the demand of building more parking. Why not share your spot with a driver in need, and join the quickly growing community of kind spot sharers?

Ilya Movshovich


Ilya Movshovich

Ilya Movshovich is the co-founder and CEO of CARMAnation, a San Francisco startup that created a simple way to share private unused parking spots.