In December 2008 carless Beaconians received an unwelcome Christmas gift when Zipcar announced they were pulling out of Southeast Seattle. The car sharing service had kept a car in a spot at Red Apple for some months. The closing announcement they emailed to customers suggested unhelpfully that the Zipcar location at South Charles Street/Hiawatha Place (on the other side of I-90, near Dearborn, and about 1.4 miles away from the Red Apple site) would be a good alternative. (That location is no longer in service.)
This December, Zipcar is bringing a much more welcome gift: the return of a Zipcar location on Beacon Hill. Two vehicles will be located at the El Centro de la Raza parking lot at 16th Avenue South and Roberto Maestas Festival Street. The cars, a Nissan Sentra nicknamed “Seahawk” and a Kia Soul named “Shapeshifter,” will be available to Zipcar users for $8-10.25 per hour (depending on vehicle) or, in the case of the Sentra, $72 per day.
Along with the Beacon Hill location, there are two other Southeast Seattle Zipcar sites: Rainier Avenue South/South Angeline, and South Othello Street/MLK Jr Way South.
Zipcar, who jilted Beacon Hill recently, will be making two announcements today: one, a car sharing partnership with the City of Seattle, and the other, the grand opening of a new storefront-type office at 380 Union Street downtown. We’re told there will be an open house from 9:00 – 5:00, where you can join Zipcar for no annual fee, win driving credit and swag, and eat Zipcar’s free snacks.
However, there is no indication yet that Zipcar will be serving Beacon Hill again, so it’s unclear where Beaconians would actually be using the driving credit. Seems like a good opportunity to tell them what you think about the abandonment of the Hill, while eating their free food. Score!
There was reason to be concerned. Beacon Hill is about to lose its only Zipcar site on top of the hill, as well as the nearby site at 29th and Columbian Way. Zipcar members recently received this email:
“The Zipcar location at Beacon Ave S/Lander St is being closed December 31, 2008, but have no fear — there’s a Zipcar located just down the street at S Charles St/Hiawatha Place.”
Just down the street? That’s a long walk for Beaconians, roughly 1.4 miles. See the map below, in which doomed Zipcar sites are marked in red, and the remaining site at Charles and Hiawatha is marked in green:
Zipcar’s website currently does not mention that these sites are going away, so some folks might have planned Zipcar memberships as Christmas gifts, only to find that their local Zipcar will be gone after New Year’s Eve.
This change seems extremely short-sighted, given the forthcoming opening of the Beacon Hill light rail station across the street from the Beacon/Lander Zipcar (which is currently in the Red Apple parking lot), and the Columbia City light rail station a block or two away from the Columbian/29th Zipcar. The locations would seem to be ideal for use in conjunction with transit.
You can tell Zipcar what you think by writing their Seattle General Manager, Carla Archambault, at Zipcar, 380 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101; phoning 206-323-3539, or faxing 206-682-1657. The email address they give is company-wide (not just Seattle) so it may not be useful, but it is firstname.lastname@example.org.