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Big city residents have to deal with a problem those of us in smaller cities don’t encounter as often: the dearth of available parking spaces; one website in development will offer San Franciscans a way to find some open spaces online.

I can’t help but chuckle a bit when reading Michael Arrington’s post about CarHarbor. My commute to the office takes ten minutes, six if the lights are with me, and plenty of parking spaces wait for me to choose between them.

CarHarbor will enable San Francisco residents to rent out the parking spaces they won’t be using during a period of time to other people, who may work near that person’s residence. Just enter the location of the space into CarHarbor along with a price, and other CarHarbor users can rent it by paying for it from their CarHarbor accounts.

The concept has some impressive brainpower in place as advisors: Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, ex-Feedster and current WirelessInk CEO Scott Rafer, and San Francisco Chamber of Commerce head of Public Policy Jim Lazarus. CarHarbor will need all the help it can get, because there are quite a few issues they will have to address.

Commenters on Arrington’s post brought up a couple of interesting points. One asked about potential freeloaders who spot an open space and slink in for a few minutes; will CarHarbor call for a tow truck? Another wondered how many “entrepreneurial” types will sell out their neighbor’s spaces that they know will be open for given periods of time each day.

Another poster identified himself as a law enforcement officer, and suggested criminals could use CarHarbor to determine which homes would be unoccupied for a given period of time. One can only imagine a Google Maps mashup of CarHarbor with those locations being used for nefarious purposes.

A thoughtful post by commenter Ted Ko suggested a way to make this work with the city’s forthcoming wireless mesh network:

Sounds like a wi-fi device that monitors whether the space is occupied would be useful. It would tell the network when the space is free and alert the towing company when the space is being abused. Allows:

1) By hour renting rather than by day
2) Alert if someone is squatting w/o paying
3) Can make sure your space is free when you get home (this would be one of my big concerns)

Hook into the upcoming SF free wi-fi and fund the devices between the towing company (who gets more revenue) and the space owner (cost of doing biz)


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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