A new startup that bills itself as the Airbnb of parking is working to get a foothold in the Charleston area, but it's already run into some resistance on Folly Beach.
Hah Parking (short for "How about here?") is a Charleston-based app that's offering spots from Johns Island to Mount Pleasant, rented by the hour, day or month.
Members of the company say they're working to connect drivers with an untapped market of private parking spaces.
"Every time we walk downtown, we walk by all these empty driveways," said Victor Vitali, one of the founders of the company.
Hah Parking went live in April, and has since accumulated about 1,100 users. Right now, the company is seeking investors and doesn't charge its users, but in the future they will likely charge a commission on the parking fees, probably around 15 or 20 percent, Vitali said.
The company hasn't marketed heavily so far but they did stuff all the mailboxes on Folly Beach with flyers promoting the service a few weeks ago.
But in the notoriously congested beach town, renting out a space isn't allowed in residential zones, which cover about 90 percent of the island, said Zoning Administrator Aaron Pope.
The city has had to stop people in the past who wanted to use empty lots in those zones for rented parking.
Mayor Tim Goodwin worried that some people might also start renting the public right-of-way — the area on either side of a public street that's technically not private land.
That space is usually already jammed with cars in the summer on Folly, especially near the beach, because parking there is free.
"It really doesn't have a big application out here to start with," Goodwin said of the app.
There were nine listings for Hah Parking in Folly Beach on Wednesday morning, ranging from $5 an hour to $25 a day.
Vitali said the company has the ability to decline listings for a space, if necessary, and that Hah is not encouraging people to rent out rights-of-way. He added the app is simply a platform, and it's the responsibility of users who list a space to know the local rules and regulations.
“We want to work together," Rocky Vitali, Victor's brother and another founder of the company, told Folly Beach City Council on Tuesday night. "We’re not just trying to come in and start something like the Bird scooter thing.”
Bird Scooters, a California-based electric scooter rental company, has caused flaps in cities across the country by suddenly appearing with the dockless devices, regardless of whether the municipality has rules in place to regulate them.
They briefly showed up in Charleston earlier this month, but city officials quickly informed the company that the scooters were effectively banned. After clearing out of the peninsula, the scooters appeared the next day in Mount Pleasant, where police promptly picked them up and carted them away.