Dan Smith had had enough.
When someone parked a car2go vehicle on the Queen Anne property he manages on May 17, Smith says he took steps to get it removed. He says he contacted the company, Share Now, which operates car2go in Seattle, and gave them two hours to remove the car from the parking space — which is usually used by one of his tenants — or he would have it towed.
“All I wanted was for them to call me back with a plan for how they were going to remove it,” Smith said. “I didn’t hear from them for six hours.”
Smith offered to move it himself, but says the company told him that’s not possible. He is not a member of car2go or any other car-sharing service.
“I called tow companies. The tow companies said to call the police. The police said call the tow companies,” Smith said.
So he came up with his own kind of solution: He installed metal fence posts and strung up wire, surrounding the car and preventing anyone from moving it.
Smith is asking Share Now for $300 for fence supplies, $65 a day in impound fees and $30 every 15 days for late fees. Smith is also seeking a “$500 renter harassment fee,” which he said is a number that would “make our renters happy.”
“I did not want the liability of other people’s business on my property,” said Smith, who has spoken with multiple local television outlets as part of his effort to bring attention to what he says is a broader problem. “It just sounded like a nightmare.”
In a statement emailed to The Seattle Times on Thursday, Share Now spokesman Tim Krebs said the company has tried multiple times to “work with Mr. Smith and have our vehicle removed from the property.”
“Mr. Smith rejected these efforts and has blocked Share Now and its members from accessing the vehicle,” Krebs wrote. “Share Now will not tolerate anyone attempting to extort our business by essentially holding our property for ransom. We will not hesitate to take legal action, and we expect the police department to uphold their obligation to help property owners recover their stolen property.”
In the 24 hours since Smith first contacted Share Now, seven people tried to access the car and couldn’t, Krebs said.
Krebs said Share Now has asked the Seattle Police Department for help. He also confirmed that Smith is seeking financial compensation from the company.
Asked for comment, Seattle Police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote: “If you find any vehicle parked on your property without your permission, you can call a tow company to have it removed.”
Share Now operates more than 20,000 cars worldwide in 30 cities and 13 countries, according to the company’s website.
Smith’s property on Queen Anne sits just under the Aurora Bridge on a busy section of the underpass. He says cars often break down near there, and he’s always been willing to help.
“The thing I really care about is that ride-shares and big business respect property owners,” Smith said. “You cannot use private property, and if your car is on private property, you need to turn it off and have your fleet move it so it’s not a liability problem.”
Smith says he has no idea how long the standoff with the company will last.
City of Seattle regulations state that free-floating car-sharing vehicles may park in most places on city streets; they make no mention of private property.