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Zipcar lots are kind of like cupcake shops—-a new one seems to pop up in some neighborhoods every month or so.  Currently, there are roughly 700 Zipcars zooming around the D.C. area. They all have names like Mini McNickle and “homes” like commercial parking lots and empty spaces around the city.

Some of those parking areas aren’t exactly legal though. Spots that technically belong to local homeowners—-but are paid for and used by Zipcar—-are not currently recognized by D.C. zoning regulations, according to Karen Thomas with the Office of Planning. It’s not that the city zoning commission doesn’t approve of car-sharing. It’s just not up to speed with this relatively new transportation phenomenon.

On Monday night, the Zoning Commission approved a new set of regulations for car-sharing enterprises. In the future, Zipcar spots in residential zones will be fully recognized as car-sharing spaces. But Zipcar won’t be able to rent more than two spaces from an individual homeowner, so “vacant lots in residential neighborhoods won’t suddenly become Zipcar lots,” says Thomas.

Here’s a bit more on the subject from DCmud:

The new regulations for car-sharing state that a mixed-use site (i.e. condo with ground floor retail a la the Ellington) or a specially zoned site can include Zipcars as long as the cars do not take up any of the required spaces for a building of the size. So if you need 20 spaces and you have 22, then those 2 extra spaces can be used for car-sharing.

Thomas said the commission will still need to vote again on a final action in January.

Image by Andrew Currie, Flickr Creative Commons