Young Tempe entrepreneurs create website to ease search for cheap parking

TEMPE – Two college entrepreneurs have started a website to help Tempe residents and Arizona State University students find parking quickly and cheaply at local homes.

The founders plan to expand the service in the Phoenix area and, eventually, across the country.

ASU students Scott Fitsimones and Jonathon Barkl created Air Garage, a website that lists Tempe homeowners who rent their driveways, carports and garages to motorists looking for a place to park.

Drivers looking for parking near the Tempe campus can log onto the Air Garage website to see available locations and prices. A space can be booked for any amount of time. Some homeowners even allow 24-hour parking.

The idea was created after the founders’ friends complained about the lack of campus parking and the high cost.

“Scott and I came to ASU and, just like a lot of other students, are trying to find parking for our cars. But there’s not a lot of options at ASU and the prices are expensive,” Barkl said. “So it’s not really a feasible option for a lot of students.”

They heard of students who tried to find their own parking by going to different businesses and homes and asking for a parking spot.

Fitsimones and Barkl decided to take the concept and simplify it.

“So that’s where Air Garage was born,” Barkl said. “It’s making this option of finding parking within the community and giving back to the homeowners that maybe don’t use those spaces at a larger scale, making it easier for everyone to do.”

Finding cheap parking on campus can be tricky with daily rates as high as $15 a day and annual parking permits costing more than $700.

Jasem Alshehab, an ASU student, feels the pain. He parks in an Apache Boulevard parking lot everyday.

“It’s totally too expensive,” Alshehab said. “I pay $6 a day, so it’s a whole new budget.”

Americans waste 17 hours a year trying to find parking, according to an Inrix study on parking pain. It costs the U.S economy more than $72 billion in wasted time, fuel and emissions.

“Parking really shouldn’t be a pain at this point in our lives,” Barkl said. “We’ve been driving for how long – a hundred years – and the biggest pain in life is often times, ‘where can I put this big giant thing that carries me around every day.’ ”

The founders hope to expand Air Garage to other universities, downtown areas and events locally and the rest of the U.S.