New York City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden announced April 26 the beginning of public review for new zoning that would promote and expand the use of car sharing.

The Department of City Planning's proposal would allow car sharing vehicles to park in garages and lots in appropriate locations with space limitations depending on neighborhood density.

Commissioner Burden said, "As part of our growing commitment to promote cleaner air and affordable transportation options to New Yorkers, we are excited to advance this zoning change to bring the benefits of car sharing to communities throughout the city. By facilitating this efficient and affordable transportation alternative, we expect to give families more choice in transportation, increase New Yorkers' mobility, reduce neighborhood parking woes and traffic congestion and ensure cleaner air, quieter streets and an improved quality of life."

The car-sharing model did not exist when the zoning resolution was written, so current zoning does not offer rules on where car-sharing vehicles can be located. The proposed rules will clarify where car-share vehicles can be located.

Under the proposal, car-share vehicles will be permitted to locate in greater numbers in higher density neighborhoods and in public parking facilities where there are concentrations of existing and potential customers. They will be limited to larger garages and lots in lower density multi-family residential districts and commercial, manufacturing and community facility parking. Car-share vehicles will generally not be permitted to be based in one- and two-family residential areas. This change, if approved, would be applicable to both new and existing garages and lots throughout the city. 

Individual parking facilities can choose whether to allow access to self-serve car-sharing vehicles. The number of vehicles that car-share operators locate in an area will be determined by market demand, with vehicles placed only where they will be used and provide benefits. In addition to allowing for car-sharing vehicles to occupy up to 40 percent of the spaces in public parking lots and garages - of which there are more than 1,800 in the city - car-sharing vehicles would be permitted to occupy up to 20 percent of spaces in higher density residential parking facilities or 10 percent of the spaces in other accessory parking facilities.

Roughly 40 to 50 members typically share the use of each car-share vehicle, rather than one or two people per privately owned automobile. And national studies show that as many as a third of car-share members give up a vehicle, meaning that each car-sharing vehicle replaces the need for multiple private cars.

There are three known car share organizations currently operating in New York City, ZipCar, Connect by Hertz and Mint Cars On-Demand. The largest of these claims over 100,000 members in the metropolitan area and over 1,500 vehicles. Given the experience of car-share companies in New York City and other metropolitan areas, membership in these car-share services is likely to grow, and the industry expects the zoning will enable further expansion of the service in the city.

The car share zoning would expand on the city's PlaNYC commitment to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainable transportation for a greener and healthier city. 

In October 2009, the New York City Department of Transportation also announced plans for a pilot a car-share program in Lower Manhattan that would reduce the agency's fleet size. The car share vehicles would be used by the agency during business hours, and made available to individual car-share subscribers during evenings and weekends, expanding the availability of car sharing when demand is greatest.