September 3, 2013
Growing Pains And Gouging For Electric Vehicles In Mission Bay
When Bosa built the Madrone down in Mission Bay, five electric vehicle (EV) charging stations with two plugs each were installed in the building’s garage for a total of ten potential parking spaces from which EV's, such as a Tesla, can be charged.
While the ten spaces for EV's were a selling point for Bosa’s sales team, they’re now a point of contention amongst some of those who bought. And while the charging stations were originally free to use they are no longer, and the cost of charging an electric vehicle in the building can now be more expensive than an equivalent tank of gas.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, San Francisco households paid an average of $0.228 per kWh for electricity in July. Madrone’s charging stations have been set to charge $1.25 per kWh, around five times the going rate and a rate at which it cost one reader around $80 to fully charge, a cost which is greater than an equivalent amount of gas on a cost per mile basis.
At the same time, there's a battle brewing over even being able to access the building's well-located charging spots. While a number of the coveted spots were originally assigned to owners without electric vehicles, the building's bylaws specified that the spots could be reassigned to owners of electric vehicles as needed. Now that they're needed, however, a number of non-electric vehicle owners have threatened legal action should their coveted spaces be reassigned and their parking space moved.
First Published: September 3, 2013 3:15 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
I feel that the non-electric vehicle owners are entitled to their original assigned parking spaces. Those that want charging stations at their stalls should pay the cost of their installation and at the same time find a way to get around the outrageous markup presently in force at the original developer installed stations.
Posted by: d-b at September 3, 2013 3:48 PM
Since the by-laws says the spots can be reassigned to those who need them, then the electric car owners have every reason to expect the by-laws to be enforced. As to the rates, they shouldn't be any higher than normal electric rates. Isn't the HOA able to do something about that?
Posted by: MoneyMan at September 3, 2013 3:56 PM
If the CC&R's call for electric car owners to be given priority, I don't see the non-electric car owners having much of an argument.
Those rates are pretty ridiculous, though.
Posted by: Fishchum at September 3, 2013 4:06 PM
No sat TV, no ethernet, dirty windows and now price-gouging on EVs?? Bosa's getting repeated mud on it's face with this project.
I've no sympathy for the non-EVers who may get re-assigned. Read your CC&Rs at closing. Duh. As for the jacked up kw$ - I wonder if this a sign of trouble to come with more & more renting SFers go electric. Maybe something the city supes need to think about regulating.
Posted by: Dogpatch at September 3, 2013 4:16 PM
If the spots can't be reassigned, then what's the point of putting them in in the first place? If you don't have a plug-in vehicle the charger does you no good.
I could see a bit of a premium over standard electric rates to recover the cost of the charging station, but 5x is stupid.
Posted by: Paul F. at September 3, 2013 4:26 PM
That's the difference between assigned vs deeded parking. If it was deeded, the hoa does not have the right to let others use that space because that particular parking space is one that you own. If it's assigned, well, you're at the mercy of your hoa.
Posted by: Stan at September 3, 2013 4:57 PM
File a complaint with the PUC about the rates. The HOA or whoever owns the charging stations doesn't just get to act like an unregulated utility and charge whatever they want.
Posted by: extra at September 3, 2013 5:26 PM
Sounds like there is a scarcity of EV charging stations which has enabled price-gouging for electricity! Perhaps we need price controls on electricity rates?
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 3, 2013 5:29 PM
The limited spots is a problem itself. EV cars are popping up everywhere. Soon we will see more of these cars struggling to keep up with the demand of these few public charging stations / spots. Buildings may start to struggle to keep up with the power requirements. I'm a pretty stong supporter of the move away from gas to electric but the infrastructure issues are going to become more public I suspect. This is the first time I've heard such an issue popping up and wont be surprised to see more. Home builders would be wise to "pre-wire" homes / garages for these EV stations.
Posted by: eddy at September 3, 2013 5:51 PM
The latest building code now requires EV stations, although in limited quantities.
Posted by: wiger toods at September 3, 2013 6:32 PM
$1.25/kwh is a rip-off. For each kWh, it can drive about 4 miles. So the cost of driving is 30 cents per hour. One gallon of gas is $4 for 30 miles, so the per-mile cost is about 13 cents.
Posted by: johnqh at September 3, 2013 6:36 PM
Not sure I understand why there needs to be assigned spots for EV? I live in 9 year old building in South Beach. Our parking spots are deeded. The HOA identified a vendor who charged the individual homeowners that wanted their spots retrofitted with a charging station. The homeowners pay the vendor directly. No need to switch spots. No price gouging.
Posted by: homealone at September 3, 2013 9:30 PM
I have no idea what the proper charge is but EV owners should not be surprised that they get charged for powering their cars (including paying for the infrastructure required). I can't see why everyone else should subsidize their electric car fetish. Maybe electric cars are better than conventional autos, but that is far from clear and depends on many factors.
Posted by: NoeNeighbor at September 3, 2013 9:56 PM
Renters seem to think they are entitled to EVERYTHING in this building. If you can't afford the upkeep/fueling/charging of your car, you shouldn't haven't gotten it in the first place. Quitchur cry-babying about it. Get rid of the car or MOVE. Simple. :)
Posted by: Pffftt at September 3, 2013 11:07 PM
Developers have moved away from deeding parking spots to assigning spots for practical and legal reason. Certain percentage of parking spaces must be reserved for the disable. Developers cannot control when and how many disable customers there will be, therefore some measure of flexiblity must be in place to accomodate for the handicap in the future. As correctly stated above deeded spots restrict developers (or HOA) in doing so.
Early buyers make the mistake of capitalizing on disable parking spots. Understandably so. Disable spots are almost always located in the best spots nearest the lobby entrance and are quite roomy to get in an out given the 5' or 8' disable passenger loading zone adjacent to it. Buyer need to take caution, these stalls have the highest probability of reassignment. So it's best to avoid them.
There is nothing that I recall on Madrone brochures claiming free electric car charging. Bosa lost their mind if such was promoted. Buyer beware, based on my experience, real estate agents and sales have a tendency of telling you whatever you want to hear to make a quick sale and then leaving the developer to clean up after sales' inaccurracies. It happened to me. If it's not written, don't believe them.
As for the rates, the question is who set the rates? My suspicion points to the vendor, not HOA, not the developer. A common practice is for vendors to sell the equipment cheap upfront but make their profits through the back end. In this case it would be through excessive rates....this is a common business plan like printers and replacement ink cartridges. That being said I hope this matter gets resolved. I'm sure other developer are going through the same headache.
Posted by: ncydr at September 3, 2013 11:41 PM
Even at market kWh rates, anyone who spends $50k-$100+k on an electric car so they can save money on gas is not a numbers genius by any stretch of the imagination.
It would be far better from a net worth perspective to buy a $5k-$10k used Civic and invest the remainder.
Posted by: anon at September 4, 2013 9:19 AM
I saw an Uber-Tesla towncar the other day. Now THAT is genius! Drivers I've talked to say they spend upwards of $2000/mo on gas for their Lincoln Towncars... that's a place where electric really saves a ton of money.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 4, 2013 9:21 AM
When I first arrived in San Francisco many years ago, I worked for a frugal developer who covered his personal expenses with the coins from the coin operated washers and dryers in his rental properties.
I guess the current generation will include one or two who will live off their electric car charging fees.
Posted by: redseca2 at September 4, 2013 9:46 AM
"Drivers I've talked to say they spend upwards of $2000/mo on gas for their Lincoln Towncars... that's a place where electric really saves a ton of money."
A Town Car driver who spends $2k/month on gas is probably doing pretty well. That's about 10000 miles/month. Uber charges $7 base + $4/mile for Town Cars so an Uber driver driving 10000 miles would generate a fair amount of gross revenue. It would be time consuming, though. If the combination of highway and stop-and-go city driving resulted in an average speed of 25mph, it would take 400 hours to drive 10000 miles. That would be about 13 hours per day, seven days a week.
As for saving money with a Tesla: If you assume that electricity is free, but a Tesla costs $40k more than a Town Car, you'd have to drive 200000 miles just to break even. Plus you would lose revenue if you are forced to recharge during the day.
Posted by: anonanon at September 4, 2013 11:18 AM
Hey, that's just what the guy told me. He and his partner (they share the car) drive about 300 miles per day between them. About 16 hours a day in total.
Only about 50% of that is carrying paying customers.
And IIRC a new Towncar was more than $40k when they were still being made.
Posted by: Jimmy (No Longer Bitter) at September 4, 2013 12:41 PM
@ Pffftt: Your comment seems a bit hostile and off topic. Do you really want it to come out that your building is also hostile to renters? I'm sure that will do wonders for your property values. As an aside, it also just makes you look like a jerk ... "Quitchur cry-babying about it." Get used to the renters or MOVE. Simple. :)
Posted by: mbr at September 4, 2013 4:38 PM
Lets review: NOBODY (particulary renter/tenants who are complaining) was promised an exclusive EV charger station or parking spot at Madrone.
For 8 months nobody using chargers was paying for the cost, only the HOA and the other owners paid for to fill EV owners cars! public charging stations range from .75 per kWh to $2.00 per kWh - why would the vendor or HOA give away electricity when one of them paid for equip, install, and ongoing mainentance and POS system?
The CCRs do not address the situation of a charger being installed after your non EV space was assigned or negotiated when purchased. If you want an EV charger, the law allows for you to request permission to install one in your space - AT YOUR EXPENSE not anybody elses, particularly the other 300 owners of units.
Posted by: theodora at September 5, 2013 9:46 AM
@Theodora: Well said, Theodora. I couldn't agree more. Some renters like to act like they own their unit and can do and demand whatever the hell they want. Really funny how some renters insist how RICH they are but choose to rent and yet they bitch and moan about a few dollars per month to charge their LEASED cars - lol.
Why should the HOA have to finance the cost to charge your car and let you charge for free while all the 300+ owners have to pay to maintain the charging stations and for the electricity also?
Posted by: Pffftt at September 5, 2013 10:27 AM
Was there a Drudge Report link to this story or something? The all-caps ranters are really coming out of the woodwork here . . . .
Posted by: shza at September 5, 2013 11:17 AM
Theodora and pffft, look at the facts and stop spreading your hatred of renters. It really is ridiculous and petty.
The building rules cover EV spots. They can be reassigned, just like disabled spots. Every week management asks EV drivers to be put on a waiting list for a spot in the newsletter. Management does not want individual chargers since spots are not deeded. That would be a mess.
I'm aware of only one renter involved in this. The rest are homeowners who are just as angry at being gouged for electricity or unable to get a spot. So your argument against renters is moot. Many replies on this topic on our social media site are from homeowners.
There are numerous amenities here, many I don't use. Yet you are still able to enjoy them on my dime and I don't complain. In sum, they all probably cost more than a few people charging their cars.
I'd rather the building be able to continue to take advantage of discounts and credits for encouraging these types of cars and not have them go away.
And to address your other point. I know and am friends with one of the individuals involved. They rent because they're building a house and needed a place to live. We did the same thing while renovating our home, but decided to purchase here and rent our house instead. They pay far more than we do. And he paid cash for his car. I understand the frustration. I'd be equally concerned if I were subject to this. And if it happened without warning, like it did here.
So it's not about money. It's about needs. Stop the hatred. If they weren't here we'd all be paying more.
Posted by: mark at September 7, 2013 12:42 AM
If they weren't here we'd all be paying more.
Pffftt. If they weren't there, someone else would be there to rent that unit. So whether they are there or not makes no difference.
Posted by: Pffftt at September 8, 2013 10:40 PM
So who needs renters because if the renters aren't there someone else would just rent it? Umm...okay that makes total sense.
Posted by: Rillion at September 9, 2013 10:11 AM
@mark, please do make an effort to look at the facts, read the CC&Rs, and look at your purchase and sale contract, or that of your landlord's rather than simply stating your assumptions. No number of chargers were promised, and no charging rate was promised.
I have no dislike of renters, only concerned that they think they can spend our HOA dues and resources that may be in conflict with their landlord's interest and investment. As a landlod, I do not want my tenant telling management or HOA how to spend my money or enhance their experience at my property - that is my choice/expense and my responsibility and privilege, not the tenant's.
Assigning and re-assigning parking spots is part of the nightmare, adding transient renters to the mix exagerates the issue...either way there was always a finite number of chargers and beyond that number installed it has to be up to the car owner and the unit owner to make their own purchase and installation of charger - just like they would in their own single family residence or other buildings with deeded spaces. It is a voluntary choice to drive an EV, and it is that person's responsbility to figure out where and how to charge it, and how much that will cost them individually - not how to spread the cost amongst their neighbors and landlord.
EVs are plenty subsidized by everyone with tax incentives, carpool lane and reduced toll incentives, and in some cases charging stations/rates, but why should the other 300 owners at Madrone pay for stations and electricity for someone else's choice of cars? 8 months of electricity was already been given away, but that cannot continue. The solution is simple, buy a charger and pay for install and pay for the electricity, just like everyone else.
Posted by: theodora at September 9, 2013 12:23 PM
@Theodora: Hear, hear!
For those not intimately in the know about the situation and the specific property your two cents is totally inappropriate and uninformed. Thanks but no thanks.
Posted by: Pffftt at September 9, 2013 3:42 PM
Your argument is shifting back to renters. What do they have to do with this? Homeowners (and there are several) are angry about the sudden change in policy without warning. As I mentioned there was one renter involved in this and I believe he sold his Tesla so now it's just homeowners involved. One or two still don't have a space because other owners are being selfish.
The argument isn't really about paying for usage. From my interpretation they're happy to. It comes down to being overcharged by a significant margin. That would bother me and you too if you were similarly situated.
There are many amenities here. I don't use the gym, the movie theater, the pool or the community room. Do you? If so, I'm technically paying for a portion of that. I don't mind though. This is a community. Charging an electric car costs a fraction of what it costs to keep all of the other amenities available. I wouldn't mind if my dues went to cover that.
I have a feeling if a renter weren't involved this wouldn't be as big an issue. That's really sad to me. I have good relationships with several here and they treat this place well. A parking spot change doesn't add much overhead to the building's operations.
Posted by: Mark at September 11, 2013 2:03 AM
@mark - you seem to be missing the mark here...
renters vs. owners seems to be your issue, and sorry but there is a difference in HOA status.
the difference with the other ammenities everyone pays for is that everyone can use them and has that choice to do so. if you don't have an EV you can't use the charger or space, that makes it an exclusive ammenity that should be paid for accordingly bu the exclusive users.
generous of you, or your landlord as the case may be, to offer to pay for refueling the EV owner's cars - good luck convincing the other owners. while you're at it, will you mind if your dues go to cover refueling all the petroleum fueled vehicles the other owners and tenants have parked in the garage?
Posted by: tomboy at September 12, 2013 1:02 PM
Pffft made this a renter issue. Not me. It seems those with electric cars are happy to pay for usage if the amount charged is reasonable. I don't disagree with that. What they're currently being charged is ridiculous. The property manager made this decision and it angered them. Not surprised. If I were affected I would be too.
She's simply not cut out to manage a luxury community. Maybe a rental, or a trailer park. I plan on bringing her poor performance up during the next Board meeting.
Little things that are trivial to implement are a burden to her. Other things, like a homeowner running a dog grooming business (and I think that person is Pfffft), against the rules, are also a challenge. I also plan on bringing that up and making sure it's no longer happening and if it is, that the homeowner is punished accordingly.
We need someone who will act fairly in all situations, not terrorize her staff and residents, and who actually understands luxury building management. Issues like window cleaning and parking would never be a problem if this place was managed appropriately. I'm still waiting for her to respond on several issues... She's my employee and this is my building, not hers. Time for her to realize that or pack her crap and go.
Posted by: Mark at September 15, 2013 6:23 PM
@mark - you've gone way off topic here, and sad to see you feel this is an appropriate venue to publicly slam your manager, I'd be cautious if I were you! Large professional audience here at SS.
Meanwhile, back on topic: $1.25 seems far from gouging when you compare rates across the city on Chargepoint site they range from $1.00 to several dollars, many with additional parking charges. AT&T ballpark lot is $1.00 plus $17 for parking. I believe the City program will raise rates to $1.25 on 1/1/14.
Someone has to pay for electricity, 40 cents per kWH +/- and then amortize the costs of purchase of station $10k+ and install and maintenance - so gouge is not the appropiate term in my opinion. If an individual purchased and installed a station in their garage they would be paying more or same over expected life of use I suspect.
Posted by: Tomboy at September 17, 2013 4:03 PM