San Jose State alumni create new app to alleviate lack of parking for thousands at university

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Described as the "Airbnb" of parking, the "ParkStash" app is allowing drivers to rent private spots from 30 homeowner-hosts around San Jose State University.

The men behind the app told ABC7 News it was a firsthand experience that demanded the service.

"I have missed classes because of this parking problem, and I've also missed my exams," co-founder and SJSU alumnus, Sameer Saran said. "So, I wanted a solution to my own problem."

Saran and Hooman Bolandi launched the app in January and have since partnered with the university. SJSU is promoting the ParkStash app on-campus and is also sharing occupancy statuses of its university garages.

According to SJSU, 20,000 students drive to school, yet there are only about 5,500 parking spots available at the main campus. Another 850 spots are available near Spartan Stadium.

"The solution is not just building parking garages," Saran said. "If you can give the information of the live occupancy status of garages, students can definitely figure that out that, 'Okay, this garage is 99-percent full, I don't even want to waste my time going there. I can just go to park-and-ride lot, or park in a driveway nearby.'"

The app is causing some apprehension in the Naglee Park neighborhood. Resident Christy Stevens told ABC7 News she was skeptical at first, as Saran and Bolandi went door-to-door looking for hosts.

"It took me three times, but finally on the third time I said, 'Sure, let's try it, let's try it."

"It's interesting, I recently retired so I don't really drive all that much. Yet, when I do need the car, I want it available," Stevens added. "So, I've made my driveway available at any time, and then if I decide that I really want to go somewhere, I'll block it off."

Off-camera, other neighbors pointed to liability issues, the possibility of litter left behind by app users, and most importantly, security.

"We take that very seriously," Bolandi said. "Because we understand that at the end of the day, as a homeowner, it's one of the big investments that people have done."

He continued, "These are faculty, staff as well as students. So, it's not just anybody parking there."

"If someone books a space, you get the vehicle license information, the type, the color and the year," Saran added. "Plus, you also have the number of the driver."

Saran said 2,100 students currently use the app. Each pays $2 an hour, $25 a week, or $60 a month for access to a private spot.

About the experience, homeowner-host Stevens said, "I'd like to have a better town and gown community being built, and if this is one of the ways to extend the bridges, I'm very happy to make that happen."

Moving forward, the two app creators say they want to expand, and possibly bring ParkStash to the City of San Jose and to other California State Universities.

Bolandi graduated from SJSU's engineering program in 1997. Saran graduated with a Master's degree in computer engineering last May.

Find the ParkStash App on App Store. Find the ParkStash App on Google Play Store.
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