ParkatmyHouse allows residents to rent out their private parking spaces during SXSW

Samuel Liebl

Students can capitalize on their vacant driveways during South by Southwest by renting out their parking space through the online service ParkatmyHouse, which will launch this weekend in Austin.

On the website, Austin residents can list their parking spot and specify at what times and for what kinds of vehicles the space is available. If a driver agrees with the price listed, the website can connect him or her with the spot’s owner.

The website claims that users can make more than $1,500 a year by renting out their vacant spot and provides residents with a suggested price by taking into account a spot’s location and the amount that nearby commercial parking lots charge, said spokeswoman Haley Cook.

“Ultimately, the supplier gets to choose,” Cook said. “There’s no bidding mechanism and it’s first come, first serve.”

ParkatmyHouse was initially launched in the United Kingdom two years ago, said the company’s chief operating officer Alex Stephany. Since then, the service has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“We’ve had thousands of user reviews and 98 percent rate their experience at four or five stars,” Stephany said. “People are excited to make cash out of some dumb bit of asphalt in front of their house.”

ParkatmyHouse suits events like SXSW because residents gain income and drivers save time and money, Stephany said.

“It’s a way of letting more Austinites get in on the SXSW cash and to show that they are smart and tech-savvy,” he said.

Stephany said the scheme also reduces traffic congestion and improves the urban environment for everyone.

“A large amount of traffic and pollution is caused by people circling their cars while looking for a parking spot,” he said. “One study found that circling cars make up 30 percent of traffic — we’re talking about a huge amount.”

As Austin grows and its population becomes more dense, the city’s need for creative transportation solutions grows too, Stephany said.

“I thought that traffic congestion in Austin was an event-specific problem,” he said. “But when I visited Austin I talked to everyone I could, and I discovered an amazing consensus: Every few months, parking was getting worse and worse. There is a load of parking, but it’s not being used.”

Stephany said the best solution is to use what we already have: cars. And Texans are nowhere close to giving them up, he said.

“Psychologically, Texans are wedded to their cars, so [traffic] would have to get really bad before they would leave their cars,” Stephany said.

While Austinites may be attached to their automobiles, Stephany said they are less attached to their vacant driveways.

Plan II and English senior Maggie Gunn said she likes the idea of making money from her vacant driveway during SXSW.

“I won’t be in town, and I wouldn’t mind renting it to someone, even if they’re a complete stranger,” she said.

Printed on Friday, March 9, 2012 as: Festival fans may rent parking in local driveways