Re: Preparing for electric cars on site and Zip Cars
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 07:07:56 -0800 (PST)
> On Feb 15, 2015, at 7:53 AM, Liz Ryan Cole <lizryancole [at]> wrote:
> I wonder if, as people are talking about electric cars, whether any cohousing 
> communities are sites where Zip cars are parked.  If you are, do you find 
> that people from the larger community (not just your cohousing community) 
> uses them?  If this should be a separate thread please reply with just Zip 
> Cars in the subject line.

I did a serious investigation of Zip cars when they were introduced in DC. The 
contract then would have required that the Association agree to pay any 
difference between the income for hours used and $1500 a month. People would 
join and reserve the car online the same way other members do. Reservations 
would take care of the problem of who is using the car when. ZipCar takes care 
of maintenance, replacing a car when one is taken for servicing. Gas is 
included in the rental fees.

Other people would not be able to use the car because our parking lot is locked 
and it would be hard to find. They like the cars to be in plain site and easily 
accessible. I think we could have worked out something with neighbors who use 
Zip Cars regularly. A dentist in the area has 2 Zip Cars in her parking area.

$1500 a month would have been ~150 hours a month of driving. Rounding off, we 
needed a commitment to drive from several people to rent up to approximately 40 
hours a week to pay for the car.  5-6 hours a day. We didn't have that much 
need for a car. Tt wouldn't have worked unless there were 2-3 people who drove 
several times a week for 3-4 hours. For example, someone in our neighborhood 
reserves one car every weekday afternoon to do a car-pool picking up children 
at school. We would need more rentals like that. I couldn't get commitments.

We have active car borrowing in the community. I borrow from a person who 
drives 1-2 times month and his battery is often dead from lack of use. I use it 
one afternoon a week to ferry grandchildren to lessons and get groceries. That 
keeps it running for when he wants to use it. Another person has an arrangement 
to share another car. People ask a few times a month to borrow cars for 
unexpected reasons.

We have one parking space per unit. Most people have given up their second 
cars. I think only one household has two cars but they just moved in. We are 2 
blocks from the Metro. People will park on the street to allow guests to use 
their parking space. Stickers are required for street parking. There are guest 
passes that can be used but the ticket people often ignore them. We have three 
households without cars who allow their spaces to be reserved by other members.

There are 6-8 rental cars within 2 blocks and more coming. We also have Cars2Go 
which are Smart Cars that rent by the minute. You can take them without 
reservations and leave them in any legal parking spot anywhere in the city. 
They can be located on any device with the software. You just go get them. One 
person in our neighborhood who lives 8-9 blocks from the Metro says that any 
given time there are 9 cars nearby. He can drive to the Metro when necessary.

Living in the city has great advantages but having parking is still a huge 
convenience. One member during development suggested having few or no parking 
spaces. It was deal-breaker for many if not most. Partly for safety. I rent my 
spot but would not give it up because it significantly adds to the value of my 

We've done nothing about preparing for electric cars.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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