park circa

I’m one of those people that hates going into the city of Chicago (I like like 3 miles out of the city) because of the parking, especially in the winter after a snowstorm. But what if there was a site where people could list their empty parking spaces and you could “rent” them for a couple hours while you’re not using them… well there is and it’s called Park Circa. It’s a very new websites so there are not a lot of spaces listed yet, but I still thought it was a great idea. The condo that I’m currently renting came with a parking spot that my girlfriend and I use all the time… after work and weekends, but while we’re at work it just sits there empty when it could be making money for us. We actually rent a 2nd parking spot from another tenant in the complex that gets used even less because we don’t live together yet so there’s not always 2 cars there.

Basically how the site works is you sign-up for an account and list the address/space #/etc of your parking spot for rent, then you list the times that people can park there. The person that is looking for a spot then loads up their account with money and “checks in” to that spot when they arrive and checks out when they leave. At this point the system knows how long the person was in the spot and will automatically debit the account and credit the owner of the parking spot. It seems pretty easy and basically automated, and since you’re not using the spot at that point anyways why not make a few bucks off of it if someone can actually get some use out of it.

So, it all sounds well and good, in theory, but there are a few ways I can see this being a problem since it basically relies on the “honor system”. Say your spot is available from 9am-4PM Monday-Friday and it comes up in the list of open spots on the site, what’s to keep anyone from just looking at the site and parking in your spot during those times without checking in and checking out, thus not giving the owner of the spot any money? Drivers basically know that the spot is going to be completely vacant during that period so what’s to stop them from just parking there for free and leaving before the spot goes off the market? Additionally, what if a person checks in to the spot, but then 2 minutes later checks out making it look like they just made a quick stop to pick something up, but in reality they left there car there for most of the day?

I don’t know, it seemed like a cool idea when I first heard about it, but the more I think about it I’m not sure how well it will actually work given the fact that it is based on mobile check-ins and trusting that people will check in when the park in your spot… Maybe the app has some sort of “report” function where if someone arrives at the spot to find it occupied when the service says it should be empty they can report that car… I’m not sure. Just seems like there are too many gray areas for this to truly work how it was intended… cool idea though.

ParkCirca.com

About The Author

What started as a hobby has turned into so much more. The site has changed over the course of the years, but we just try to write about what we enjoy.

  • Thanks for the interest. You bring up some good questions about how the check-in honor system could be abused. Fortunately, these types of marketplaces are not new. For example, ebay has been successfully facilitating interactions between complete strangers for years, and they are selling real merchandise (as opposed to “time” in a space where the loss for the owner is theoretical at worst). 

    Here are a couple of things that will keep the system working:• Most people are good.• No one wants to get towed. This is why people don’t park in other’s spaces right now, because they don’t know if a family member or roommate is home.• Crowd Sourcing. If someone doesn’t check-in, or checks-out too soon, the space is listed as available and the next person who comes to park there will report the first car’s license plate. This will give the person a bad rating which could get them banned.• Rating Systems. Bad behavior will result in bad ratings which will get people banned, or filtered out by preference of the space owner.• Fines. If someone stays past the allowed time, they will get an instant $50 fine which will be paid to the owner directly (100%).

    I hope that helps. If you have more questions, let us know. Thanks much.