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San Diego Zipcar Program Expansion Moves Forward

Three hybrid Honda Insights are parked on San Diego State University campus, Dec. 9, 2009.
Three hybrid Honda Insights are parked on San Diego State University campus, Dec. 9, 2009.

A proposed five-year agreement between the city of San Diego and Zipcar for expansion of a car-sharing program received tentative approval from the City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee Wednesday.

The agreement would formalize the relationship between the city and Zipcar, a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group that's been operating locally for two years.

Car sharing through Zipcar and car2go, which previously reached an agreement with the city, has proven to be popular in downtown San Diego, and officials hope to expand it into other areas where low-income residents can take advantage of the program.


car2go has 36,000 local members, according to Councilman Todd Gloria. He said his constituents who have given up their vehicles are saving over $1,000 in car payments, insurance, maintenance and gas.

"Just think about what that can do in a low-income family that's really making things stretch," Gloria said. "I recognize this can't work for everybody, but if we can help a couple more families make ends meet, I think that would be really awesome."

The deal, which calls for a three-year base term and an option for a two- year renewal, requires approval by the full City Council. Under terms of the agreement, Zipcar would pay the city a $45 annual per-car fee to the city as part of the program, and could advertise that it's an official city partner.

The companies have different models. Zipcar works station-to-station, meaning that a vehicle has to be returned to a specific location, while car2go vehicles can be picked up and returned almost anywhere within its service territory.

Zipcar, since it's owned by a major rental car company, also offers a variety of vehicles, including vans and trucks. The company has generally offered its services around the area's universities, and some major housing complexes and employment centers.