San Francisco resident Kelly Jensen is the Interlibrary Loan and Digital Production Assistant at the California Academy of Sciences. One of the perks of her job is a discounted membership in City CarShare (CCS), a program which offers car rentals by the hour or the day. Members choose from a selection of low-emission, hybrid, or electric vehicles, then use and return the cars to small lots (“pods”) scattered throughout the Bay area.
When she moved to the city, Kelly sold her 2009 Nissan Versa and now relies almost totally on CCS vehicles when she can’t get to her destination by foot or on public transit.
BN: How did you end up in the Bay Area?
Jensen: I grew up in Fresno but moved here in 2007 when my husband was transferred here for a biotech job. I’ve always wanted to live in San Francisco. It’s where we always came on field trips when I was a kid. Fresno is three hours from anywhere – it’s close to Yosemite, but kids can’t go to Yosemite on every single field trip, so we used to go to the California Academy of Sciences, The Steinhardt Aquarium, and the Exploratorium. It’s my dream city: I love the culture and architecture here.
BN: How did you become involved with City CarShare?
Jensen: When I was hired full-time at Cal Academy, I was living in Oakland but didn’t want to commute because of the traffic — and because I had an irrational fear of the “old” Bay Bridge. So I moved to the Lower Haight in San Francisco. Then I didn’t want to have a car at all: I didn’t want to deal with parking, parking tickets, and break-ins. And rents are higher in San Francisco, so I sold my car to be able to afford a higher rent.
CCS offers our employees a discount membership, so it seemed to me like the obvious thing to do. I think the Academy is very interested in sustainability and having a low impact on the environment. The whole point of CCS is getting cars off the road, and not using them more than you need to. So it all fits together.
BN: How has CCS made a difference in your life?
Jensen: I don’t think of myself as a hard-core environmentalist, but I recycle, I compost, and I try to buy earth-friendly products. Since I’ve joined CCS, I’ve started going to this little mom-and-pop grocery store near me. I no longer go to the chain grocery store and make huge purchases all at once. I used to go on road trips and wander around, and I don’t really do that anymore, either. Now I’m more organized and focused – I get the car for a specific and finite amount of time. And, I’ve shifted my attention: I’m much more locally-oriented than before.
BN: What is your favorite outdoor destination in the Bay Area?
Jensen: There are two. Muir Woods is the place I take people to when they’re visiting. It just kills me that there’s this amazing grove of redwoods right here. That’s the spectacular one. The other one, the everyday favorite, is Golden Gate Park. I live close by, and even sitting outside now, I can hear red-tailed hawks calling each other. I just love that there is wildlife in the city.
Bay Nature is proud to be a partner of City Carshare.
According to CCS, members improve the environment by reducing consumption of fossil fuels and emission of greenhouse gases by not owning cars and only driving when they really need to. In addition, they have expanded the amount of land available as green space by decreasing the space required for parking. To learn more, visit citycarshare.org.