The real estate developer behind San Francisco's massive Parkmerced project announced today via press release a newly formed partnership with ride-hail giant Uber. On the face of it, the goal appears an attempt to incentivize future tenants of the 5,700-unit project to reduce dependency on car ownership — a goal which both benefits developer Maximus (every nonexistent parking space means more room to build apartments), and, of course, Uber.
"This is a first-of-its-kind partnership between Uber and a real estate development company, designed to encourage car-free living at Parkmerced and establish a sustainable, multimodal transportation model for communities and developments across the United States and globally," reads the press release in part.
Both the Chronicle and Business Times report that developer Maximus will provide tenants with a $100 "subsidy" that can be used toward Clipper cards and Uber rides. The Times writes that "a minimum of $30 of the subsidy must be used on Uber, and the developer would be paying for the subsidy, not Uber, according to a source familiar with the arrangement."
The press release from Maximus, however, makes no mention of a subsidy, and instead refers to an "incentive." "New residents to Parkmerced will be able to reduce their private car use through a $100 monthly incentive to be used with Uber, the world’s leading rideshare company, and Clipper, an all-in-one Bay Area transit card providing access to Muni, Bart, Caltrain and more, with more transportation options to come." Uber's press release calls it a "stipend."
SFist reached out to Parkmerced spokesperson P.J. Johnston, Maximus spokesperson Mitch Breindel, and Uber in an attempt to clarify just exactly how the program will work. An Uber spokesperson informed SFist that the deal is optional for tenants, would be good for the life of the lease, and applies on a per-unit (not per-person) basis.
This agreement raises a number of obvious questions. Primarily, will the cost of the guaranteed $30 per month toward Uber simply be passed on to the renter in the form of higher rent? And do the credits expire monthly?
Interestingly, in receiving the $100 incentive renters are agreeing to be tracked by both Uber and their future landlord — both while they live there and potentially even before they move in. "Parkmerced and Uber will undertake research regarding program participants’ driving habits before and during their participation, to add important real-world data about driving behavior, cost savings, use of public transportation, and associated environmental benefits," the Maximus press release reads.
Just what, exactly, does this mean?
These are all questions that are left unanswered by both the Chron and the Business Times. One thing, however, is for sure: Supervisor Scott Wiener is excited about Uber's foray into real estate.
“By incentivizing multimodal transportation, this pioneering partnership between Uber and Parkmerced demonstrates the kind of innovative leadership that is needed to help solve San Francisco’s, and other cities’, pressing urban mobility challenges,” the supervisor wrote in Maximus' release.
Oh, and for you Lyft fans out there, tough luck — this deal is exclusive to Uber.