Meera Pal, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - For many D.C. drivers, much of their time on the road is spent circling, in search of one of those coveted parking spaces.
A new website is hoping to change that, by giving frustrated drivers more options when it comes to parking in the District.
ParkatmyHouse, which began in the United Kingdom in 2006, rolled out Wednesday on this side of the Atlantic.
Owner Anthony Eskinazi says he realized there is an overwhelming need after he read an article about six- to 12-year waiting lists for parking in the greater Manhattan area.
"The opportunity over here is far greater than the U.K. (for ParkatmyHouse)," he says. "In the U.S. I can rattle off 10 cities where parking is a serious problem."
ParkatmyHouse is starting its U.S. launch by marketing specifically to parking spot owners in the East Coast metropolitan areas of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and D.C.
According to an annual report on parking rates by global realtor Colliers International, the District is one of the top 10 most expensive cities in which to park. The cost to park in D.C. has increased 20 percent since 2010.
Midtown Manhattan tops the list with an average cost of $541 to park. It is followed closely by downtown Manhattan at $533.
To use the site, property owners can register parking spots on ParkatmyHouse for free. The site recommends a rental price, or the owner can name his or her own price. The listing includes any special features about the spot, such as lighting, security and location.
Once the spot is listed, area drivers can search the database for available spots.
A quick search of the D.C. area pulled up four available parking spots, ranging in price from $300 a month to $90 a month.
A private parking spot in a Dupont Circle alley was listed for $250 a month.
In London, Eskinazi says users have rented parking spaces on a weekly basis or for just a few hours during a sporting event.
He says his service is similar to the listings offered by Craigslist, but it's better.
ParkatmyHouse offers a contractual agreement for both parties to sign and facilitates the deal and payments, which can be made via debit or credit card and PayPal.
And, for the U.S. launch, the site also will offer basic insurance coverage for drivers and homeowners worried about lawsuits.
"It adds extra credibility and trust in our service," Eskinazi says.
In exchange for marketing available parking spots, the site takes a 15 percent commission of each transaction.
According to the site, since launching in the U.K., the service has made property owners renting out parking spots more than $3 million a year and saved drivers $5 million a year in parking fees.
To date, the site has more than 150,000 registered users in the U.K. Eskinazi hopes to mirror that success in the United States.
He calls it a cost-saving alternative to metered parking and parking lots, with savings of up to 70 percent.
He adds that the service also cuts pollution by reducing the number of drivers circling for a spot and wasting fuel.
To list or find a parking spot in the D.C. area, following this link to ParkatmyHouse.
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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