Carsharing could soon become much more common in Los Angeles – as common as parking meters, in fact.

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted to expand a program for carsharing companies in the city, allowing customers of companies such as Boston’s Zipcar to pick up and drop off vehicles at some metered parking spots in the city. Before, customers could only pick up or drop off carshare vehicles at special dedicated parking spaces, which effectively limited carsharing to local college campuses and a handful of other facilities.

Proponents of carsharing say that renting cars by the hour gives commuters another option to get around. But cities have been slow to allow carsharing because it involves waiving some parking meter fees and parking restrictions.

Under the pilot program authorized Tuesday by the city council, drivers of carshare vehicles would be able to pick up a vehicle at designated metered parking spaces in the city, as long as they drop off the vehicle at the same location. The driver would not have to pay parking meter fees; instead, the city would recover a portion of the parking meter fees through financial agreements with carshare companies.

Eventually, the program would be expanded to allow carshare vehicles to be parked at any legal space in the city, with the city waiving time limits and other parking restrictions.

City transportation staff will prepare specific rules and guidelines for the program and present those back to the council in coming months for final approval.

Tuesday’s council vote was welcomed by the carsharing industry.

“Zipcar was pleased to learn of the next phase of carsharing in Los Angeles,” said Jeff Shields, regional general manager for Zipcar. “By providing convenient on street carsharing options like Zipcar, this legislation will help promote a car-free or car-light lifestyle, meaning fewer cars on the road for all Los Angelenos.”

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