Anyone who drives around Boston knows how hard it can be to park around around Boston – but now a recently upgraded smartphone app is giving drivers access to privately-owned spaces –- and helping the lucky space owners make some extra cash, too.
It’s called Spot, offered for free by ParkEasier.com, and someone who’s been using it is Perry Geyer, owner of Cybersound, a music and commercial recording studio on Newbury Street in Boston that -- besides sleek, top-of-the-line high-tech recording equipment -– comes with something else extraordinarily valuable: A reserved, off-street, genuine Back Bay Boston parking space.
“When I’m not using the parking spot, it's just completely available for anybody to use,’’ Geyer said.
That anybody could be someone like Sam Wheatley, who lives in Cambridge, works in marketing in Boston, and is also co-founder of Sebo Designs, which makes Ugandan cloth neckties and pocket squares. “Looking for parking in Cambridge, it can be really difficult finding a spot,’’ Wheatley said. “Drive around for 15 minutes and you still haven't found anything.’’
On the sell side and the buy side, Geyer and Wheatley are both regular uses of Spot. When someone like Sam needs a spot, he can open the Spot app on his smartphone and see a map of people who have a spot, like Perry, plug in the time of day they want to rent it, see the price, and book it, instantly. “It tells you the price right there, and you can book in advance,’’ Wheatley explained as he demonstrated the app on his phone. “You press this green button, and you're done.’’
On Geyer’s end, “I literally just get a text on my phone. It’s like: ‘Hey, you just rented your spot, is it available for three hours on this day?’ I’m like: ‘Yes, it is. Done!’ So it's a piece of cake.’’
If you’re looking for a space for a week or a month, Spot can help you find that, too.
Spot takes 15 percent of what owners charge as a processing fee, and it also handles notifying or towing people who overstay their space rentals.
Some other smartphone-based parking apps like Haystack have raised legal hackles in Boston because they involved people trading control of city-owned metered spaces. The key distinction with spot is it involves owners of private spaces privately contracting with others to rent them.
Geyer estimates he rents out his space at least once a week and nets around $20 a week -– hardly enough to get rich off, but more than just extra pocket changes.
Wheatley said he’s always finding lower prices with Spot than parking lots and garages, and said, “It’s really easy to use. If you can use Google Maps or Waze or Uber, then you should be good.’’ Plus, he describes it as an affordable tiny luxury. “It has a bit of a VIP feel,’’ Wheatley said. “You pull into this private spot.’’ All the sweeter with Spot when just spotting any spot in Boston is no small triumph.