By Natasha Baker
TORONTO (Reuters) - It is a challenge for every urban driver -- finding reasonably priced parking. But before taking another loop around the block, it might be wise to consult a new mobile app.
Parking Panda is a parking reservation service that allows drivers to find and book parking spots directly through their smartphones. It also lets those with empty driveways earn extra cash by renting theirs out.
"We do everything from the driveway behind your house, to school and church parking lots, all the way up to 10-story commercial parking garages," said Nick Miller, co-founder and CEO of the Baltimore-based company.
The app displays parking spots available nearby, which can then be reserved and paid for instantly. Daily rates for parking spots are approximately 15 to 20 percent cheaper than the average rates in most cities, according to Miller, and include both private parking spots, as well as commercial lots and garages.
"Dinners in Nob Hill are better covered by a private driveway, but a meeting for work in SOMA is better covered by a commercial garage -- so you really need both," Miller explained, referring to San Francisco neighborhoods.
The service, available for the iPhone and on the web, also allows those with empty driveways to rent out their unused spots -- an idea that Miller said was inspired by the difficulty he faced in renting out his unused parking space in college.
"We had a townhouse with a driveway, but no car. It was empty all the time and not used," he said. "I thought there had to be a better way to solve the problem."
Those renting out their driveways can earn several hundred dollars a month depending on the city and area they live in, according to Miller.
The company has also helped schools and churches rent out their unused lots for local events.
"The Preakness horse races is one of the biggest horse races in the world and we helped a school sell its parking lot for the one-day race and we made close to $5,000 for the school in a single day just by selling its parking space," Miller said.
The company collects a fee between 15 to 20 percent for each transaction.
Over 20,000 parking spaces can be reserved through the app in Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California.
In the next few months, the company plans to expand its service to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Boston, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, California and Austin, Texas.
Drivers outside these cities are still able to access information, such as pricing, for over 500,000 parking spaces in lots and garages near them, however they are not yet able to reserve them within the app.
Looking ahead, the company also plans to release tools and analytics for commercial parking lots and garages that will help them set pricing, in a similar way to how hotel rooms or airline tickets are priced.
Similar services include Parkatmyhouse.com, based in Britain and ParkWhiz, based in Chicago.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)
Earlier on HuffPost:
<a href="http://masterbaitonline.com/" target="_hplink">Master Bait and Tackle</a> on Florida's Gulf coast isn't the only bait shop to play on the "master bait"/"masterbate" homophone; <a href="http://www.masterbaitersfishing.com/" target="_hplink">Master Baiter's Sportfishing & Tackle</a> in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico does too. With taglines like "You can't beat our boat!" and "We won't jerk you around," both clearly know what they're going.
Another theme emerges. As with "therapist," we recommend avoiding the word "scrap" in URLs. This one for information technologies company is suppose to read "<a href="Itscrap.com" target="_hplink">IT Scrap.</a>"
This <a href="http://whorepresents.com/" target="_hplink">database of "entertainment industry contacts"</a> sounds like it's involved in an entirely different industry.
The website for the law firm reads, "[i]n other news, it has come to our attention that the domain name '<a href="http://www.ferrethjobs.com/" target="_hplink">FerrethAndJobs.com</a>' may be misread by some." And how. The lawyers have since shortened the name to FerrethJobs.com, but that awkward motto -- "Is your business in the right hands?" -- remains.
You'd think Dickson, which manufactures data recorders for temperature and humidity, would be a bit more web-savvy than to choose such an unfortunate name. Since registering dicksonweb.com, they've cleaned up the double entendre to <a href="http://www.dicksondata.com/" target="_hplink">dicksondata.com</a>.
Maybe this isn't a bad URL. We wager you'd never remember the name of <a href="http://www.penisland.net/" target="_hplink">a pen retailer</a> if it wasn't a double entendre.
This <a href="http://potsofart.com/" target="_hplink">U.K.-based ceramics studio</a> was trying to play on the phrase "lots of arts" with its name.
That last part of this <a href="http://actionpaintballsac.com/home.html" target="_hplink">Paintball excursion site's URL</a> alludes to probably the WORST part of the body you'd ever want shot with a paintball.
Choosing pain is not what most of us usually do on vacation, despite the suggestion of <a href="http://www.choosespain.com/" target="_hplink">this holiday booking site</a>.
Though Siteopia <a href="http://www.siteopia.com/blog/some-funny-some-crazy-and-some-just-plain-wrong-domain-names" target="_hplink">catalogues</a> this site for a California therapist database as an awkward domain name, a search for "<a href="Therapistfinder.com " target="_hplink">Therapistfinder.com</a>" will redirect you to Counselingcalifornia.com. Seems like someone at the company wised up.
Again, we see <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrIpPqcln6Y" target="_hplink">shades of <em>Arrested Development</em>'s Tobias Fünke</a>.
If only apostraphes were allowed in URLs, country cabin spot <a href="Oldmanshaven.com " target="_hplink">Old Man's Haven</a> would have a perfectly acceptable domain name.
As far as connotations go, it's probably not great that <a href="Ladrape.com" target="_hplink">La Drape International Limited</a> in England happens to make bed covers.
Ugh. <a href="Teacherstalking.org " target="_hplink">This site for teachers who'd like to improve their French or Spanish-language skills</a> should really get a new URL.
Admittedly, many <a href="Mp3shits.com" target="_hplink">mp3s you can buy online</a> are kinda crappy.
The <em><a href="Wintersexpress.com" target="_hplink">Winters Express</a></em>, a Winters, Calif.-based newspaper, doesn't have the most URL-friendly name.
Bet you never knew.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Analemma <a href="http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analemma" target="_hplink">means</a> a "graduated scale in the shape of a figure eight, indicating the sun's declination and the equation of time for every day of the year and usually found on sundials and globes." <a href="Analemma.org" target="_hplink">It's a website about science</a>.
<a href="Nobjs.org" target="_hplink">North of Boston Jewish Singles</a>, please choose a different acronym.
<a href="http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/boscage#English" target="_hplink">Boscage</a>, which in both English and French refers to a small forest, doesn't do well with the French article "les" put in front of it <a href="Lesbocages.com" target="_hplink">in a domain name</a>.
Yet more proof that "therapist" is a difficult word to include in a URL.