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Landlord looks to reduce car ownership by buying a shared car for its tenants

Posted by on May 23rd, 2014 at 9:53 am

shared car division

The shared car at 3330 SE Division Street is marketed to UDP residents but rentable by anyone.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

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The local developer and landlord that in 2011 reintroduced zero-auto-parking-apartment buildings to the city after a 60-year absence is seeing success with another innovation: it’s bought a car for its buildings’ residents to share.

Urban Development Partners, whose Move the House Apartments project at 38th and Division inspired dozens of copycats around the city, says the car, a 2012 Subaru Forester that UDP has shared using the Getaround peer-to-peer carsharing service, is covering its own costs and seems to be helping motivate UDP tenants to give up their cars.

The car rents to anyone, whether or not they’re a UDP tenant, for $5 per hour or $35 per day, plus gas and a $1 transaction fee. Just as other car-sharing companies such as Zipcar do, the developer pays the city a few hundred dollars per year for a reserved parking space directly in front of the 35-unit building at 3330 SE Division St.

UDP spokeswoman Neely Wells said this week that since the car went online last winter, three new tenants have said it was a “key reason” they chose the unit, and that four households that moved into the building with two cars have sold one of their two.

Wells says the company’s goal is to free up parking spaces in a crowded neighborhood while providing an amenity that helps their tenants save money. One-bedrooms at 3330 SE Division average $1395. There are zero vacancies.

“We’ve always wanted to be in a high-transit area where people were using public transportation, walking, riding bikes,” Wells said. “And we struggled for a couple years on how we could actually affect the number of cars in the neighborhood. … We feel the parking pain. our neighbors talk about it frequently. Our tenants talk about it. We’re concerned on behalf of our retailers.”

Wells said about 2/3 of the tenants at 3330 currently own cars.

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Wells said Getaround’s local manager, Steve Gutmann, was essential in making the deal happen.

“Steve was just phenomenal in figuring out what the hoops were,” Wells said. “Our insurance agency was like, ‘You can’t do that. that’s impossible. And then Getaround got on the phone and explained whatever it was they explained. and they said, ‘OK!'”

Getaround is a California-based startup that essentially allows anyone to turn their car into a Zipcar. It makes money by collecting part of the cost of each transaction. Insurance is included in user fees, so a Getaround driver doesn’t need to have outside insurance. The company launched in Portland in 2012 and currently offers the most shared vehicles of any local carsharing service.

Neely said UDP has marketed the car by offering a $25 voucher to tenants at move-in, by posting marketing materials in their Division Street buildings and inviting commercial tenants and their employees to use it, too. Neely said it currently gets reservations about four days a week, which is enough to cover its depreciation, maintenance and parking costs.

Across the street at 3360 Division, a new 30-unit UDP building that will open in August has already leased out all but seven of its units. Neely said it’s possible that if tenants there use the car frequently, they might need to purchase another.

“It would be a huge success if eventually we needed a small group of vehicles,” she said. “We care about the neighborhood and if we can think of a way to affect it positively, then our general answer is to do so.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a weekly column sponsored by real estate broker Lyudmila Leissler of Portlandia Home/Windermere Real Estate. Let Mila help you find the best bike-friendly home.

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Tessa
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Tessa

Interesting. At ATS last month Dennis Allen from Zidell Yards talked about trying to do this a couple of years ago and running into barriers with insurance. I wonder what’s changed here?

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Insurance needs to be worked out. My car insurance will NOT cover renting my car out. And, if I rent to someone without car insurance,
and they crash- it’s all over. Interesting- will the landord be the “deep pocket” when underinsured car owner rents to tenant who doesn’t have car insurance.

Joseph E
Guest

$5 an hour and $35 a day are great deals. The cheapest airport rentals are sometimes as little as $20 a day, but if you add insurance the cost quickly reaches $35 a day. If any of the new buildings in the Hollywood area want to add a car like this, I would love to use occasionally, as well.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

I appreciate seeing a developer going the extra mile like this. They sure didn’t have to do it, not with zero vacancy rate.

SteveG
Guest
SteveG

Agreed. UDP was the first developer anywhere in Getaround’s service area to do this, and they have the scars to prove it!

Sho
Guest
Sho

Conveniently it also helps if they are going for LEED points due to the necessity for a car-share space required and if they own the car share program then they can control the space, since they have now reserved a space specific to their business and not alternates like zipcar. It’s kind of a sneaky to extend your property/development.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

If the gas isn’t included, do you need to fill it up before return every time?

SteveG
Guest
SteveG

Gas is not included. Users have to refill the tank at the end of every trip. Getaround is working on fixing this with a refueling solution similar to Zipcar’s. Once that’s in place and depending on the solution they come up with, the price of gas will likely either be incorporated into the hourly rate, or billed to the driver separately.

Reza
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Reza

2/3 of the tenants have cars. Instead of passing along the savings of not building a garage to their tenants, these developers reap the profits and externalize the costs of building car storage to the rest of us, by taking advantage of free, subsidized on-street parking. They keep building these zero-parking apartments, and tenants are still showing up with cars. Why is that? Do we need a more robust transit or bicycle network? Would legalizing rideshare help?

This token gesture does not somehow make things right.

Reza
Guest
Reza

The obvious thing I left out was managing on-street demand, but I thought that would go without saying.

SteveG
Guest
SteveG

Reza-

The developer’s car is available to the general public, whereas personal, private cars are available only to one person. Yet personal, privately-owned cars pay nothing for storing their cars on the street, whereas UDP pays to park theirs.

Think a bit more re. who’s getting the subsidy…

GlowBoy
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GlowBoy

I think Reza referring to the more general problem of developers putting up no-parking apartments whose tenants end up parking a lot of personal cars on the street, and not to UDP’s getaround rental, which of course is helping mitigate those problems.

As to that larger problem, I would agree with others that on-street parking needs to start costing money on this stretch of Division (and neighboring streets), soon, or things will continue to get messier.

davemess
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davemess

The developer.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This problem exists because we under-charge for a public resource. If tenants had to pay to park their cars, fewer of them would own cars, and developers would be more likely to build off-street parking, because tenants would be more likely to demand it.

ED
Guest
ED

Many individuals who live in single-family homes are also “reaping the profits” of not providing off-street parking for all of their vehicles. For the apartment, approximately 2/3s of residents park on the street without directly paying for it. What percentage of homeowners or renters do you think park on the street in the Division neighborhood? I used to live right off Clinton, and there were plenty of cars parked on the streets owned by people living in single-family homes or small multifamily units. Why should people living in these new apartments not be allowed to park their cars in a similar manner as existing neighborhood residents?

9watts
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9watts

“What percentage of homeowners or renters do you think park on the street in the Division neighborhood? ”

I looked up a piece of this recently (2010 ACS). In the census tracts that border this section of Division (the Richmond neighborhood), the number of cars owned by owner-occupied residences is higher per household and per capita than the number owned by renters. I can’t say how many of them or what shares park off street, but, typically I believe in inner SE driveways and garages are less for car storage than is the public right of way.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

9 Watts, 75% of renters have cars according to a study by David Evans. Many of the older homes in Richmond have short driveways with bad feng shui for backing out. Having said that, I am in favor of the city asking “if you have a car, where does it live.” Thousand of car owners need to be told to park the car in their driveways. The streets are not for VW Van storage- you can park the VW micro van offsite at your own expense, IMHO.

SteveG
Guest
SteveG

Mamacita-

You raise a valid point: anyone using the public streets to park a private car should pay to rent that real estate. That’s equally true of people who have lived in a neighborhood for 3 generations and for people who moved in yesterday.

After all, the ROW is public land, and although we’re all in the habit (myself included) of parking our private stuff there, making on-street parking free only encourages people to keep more cars, and park them on the street while leaving their own driveways empty. If I had to pay $50/month to park my car on the street, I would either be parking my seldom-driven car in my driveway, or I’d have sold it by now.

And people who don’t have a driveway? They either would have to rent a driveway from a neighbor, or pay the city $50/month, or sell their car. As it stands, they’re getting a public subsidy (free storage) for their car.

dsaxena
Guest
dsaxena

Reza,

It took me two years of living in NW PDX (21st) before i was ready to get rid of my car. This is a usual pattern with folks moving into dense urban areas….they will show up with their cars but will end up getting rid of them when it makes no sense to own them.

davemess
Guest
davemess

NW 21st and Division and SE 38th, are not exactly on the same level of density or proximity yet though.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

when i lived on capitol hill in seattle i drove very infrequently so i would occasionally forget where i parked my car. since i would sometimes have to park 10-20 blocks away from my apartment, refinding it could be a real adventure.

Randall Sewell
Guest
Randall Sewell

If it’s okay for everyone who already owns a house to store their car for free on the street, why shouldn’t it be okay for new people to do the same?

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

Great idea, since it adds value to the neighborhood as well.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Nice of UDP to have mounted bike racks on the Forester. Most conventional and Zipcar rentals lack the ability to transport bicycles with more than two adults (or with more than one child) in the car.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

It’s a creative solution. I hope it works out, but even if it doesn’t, I give UDP credit for trying something outside the box. If the car is indeed paying for itself, then this is an amenity that UDP can offer without any effect on the rent. It makes the units more desirable. Smart business move.

Matthew Rogers
Guest

Sounds like an awesome way to promote appropriately-sized mobility access for when the building residents need a car for whatever reason.

I wonder how many automobiles the building (or group of buildings) would need to “control” such that, say, 90% of car/truck/van demand was covered by these shared vehicles?

SteveG
Guest
SteveG

Matthew-

Practically anyone can post a car, truck or van on Getaround and rent it out to their car-free neighbors. The car has to be in decent shape,with less than 150k miles and it must be no older than a ’95. UDP is the first developer to do this, but hundreds of individuals in Portland are also renting out their cars.

My car earned me about $75 this week when it otherwise have just sat there. IMO this is a massively scaleable way to increase the city-wide supply of inexpensive shared cars.

Matt
Guest
Matt

*his tenants

007
Guest
007

AWESOME IDEA!