Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The online parking spot marketplace is heating up.
If you follow the Kentucky Derby, you know about the free-form bazaar on the approach to Churchill Downs, where residents sell parking spots in their yards. Some locals practice the hard sell, hollering price quotes and promising good treatment. Others simply put a sign up and sit on the porch. Prices fluctuate from house to house without rhyme or reason, and they are always negotiable.
That market, minus its charmers, screamers, and rocking-chair old folks, is now available in convenient, digital form in San Francisco. ParkPlease, which debuts this weekend to coincide with the Outside Lands music festival, allows residents to post their yards, lots, spots, alleys, driveways and garages to a map. Buyers can find and compare them in advance. The founders had sold 30 percent of their 300 spots by Wednesday, and no doubt business is brisk this evening.
It's not the first website to offer a map of parking spots for sale in the model of online room-share (and fellow Bay Area start-up) Airbnb. English company Park At My House introduced an American site earlier this year. But ParkPlease is the more graphically appealing, and in its limited geographic scope, seems to be busier. On Friday afternoon, most spots are in the $40-$60 range, with parking spaces near the Golden Gate Park festival grounds going for $90 a day. With prices like that, who can afford not to sell their parking spot?
Top image: ParkPlease.