Latest Parking Space Rental App Hits the ‘SPOT’

Instead of selling public parking, SPOT helps owners rent their space to people looking for a place to put their car.

Image Courtesy of SPOT

Image Courtesy of SPOT

As the city and a group of self-proclaimed innovators squabble over a new smartphone app that lets users sell off public parking spaces to people circling the block, Braden Golub has been quietly working away to put the finishing touches on his own solution to the lack of parking in and around Boston.

Last month, after initially announcing plans for his business in March during an interview with Boston, Golub launched the beta version of “SPOT,” an app that lets private space-owners put their unused parking spots on the market, and rent them out either hourly or for extended periods of time.

If all goes according to plan, Golub said the app would officially launch in the Apple store by this weekend for anyone to use.

“Fingers crossed,” said Golub, a Back Bay resident who first came up with the concept after getting frustrated he could never find a public parking space for his girlfriend when she visited. After he noticed how many private spots went unused in his neighborhood, the idea for SPOT set in.

“It’s a topic on everyone’s mind lately, every resident in Boston understands parking is an issue. If we can make that easier on the consumer, then everyone wins,” he said.

Golub’s app works by letting users sign up and put their available, privately-owned spaces online. SPOT then uses a credit card payment system to process a request between the renter and the space owner. Those renting can set the amount of time they want to give up a space, whether it be for hours, days, months, or weeks. Once the transaction goes through, SPOT pockets a small percentage of the sale. The rentals apply to driveway space in places like Cambridge, Somerville, and other suburbs, too.

“It’s giving people the ability to utilize an unused asset,” said Golub.

Golub’s goal of releasing the SPOT app not only aims to solve a common problem among residents, it also comes with impeccable timing.

For the last week, Mayor Marty Walsh’s office and the creators of an app called Haystack, which was scheduled to launch Thursday, have continued to butt heads.

Unlike Golub’s app, Haystack lets users charge people a $3 fee to overtake their public parking spot. Walsh said the app was “not in line with the city’s effort to keep parking as open…as possible,” and that it interfered “with the public’s right to access public resources.”

The mayor said the city’s Transportation Department would keep a keen eye on Haystack’s controversial space-saving technology, and redeem the right to take appropriate action to prohibit operations if necessary.

As for the founder of SPOT, things with the mayor’s administration have been a bit more cordial. “I reached out to them after all the press was going around, and I figured now would be a good time considering it was somewhat-negative press,” said Golub. “I wanted to get a sense of what they are doing, what it means to use SPOT, and how the process works. We had that discussion…and the fact that this is bringing onto the market a surplus of parking inventory, I think they are excited about it.”

A spokesperson from Walsh’s office confirmed that Golub spent time chatting with members from the office of New Urban Mechanics, but did not specify what the conversation was about.

As it stands, Golub said he just wanted to put his app on the radar, and let officials know that his approach to solving the parking problem doesn’t rely on leveraging spaces owned by the city.

“They were open about the idea, and they loved the idea of alleviating some of the major parking concerns without harming the public sector,” he said. “Basically it was a discussion that needed to happen. I was waiting for the right time. My goal is to create a parking solution overall, and what I’m doing coincides with what Boston is looking to do—without creating resentments among its residents.”

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