A Los Angeles car-sharing program coming soon to West Hollywood celebrated its business launch at Lola's Restaurant Wednesday night.
Melissa Hebert, owner of LAXCarShare, held up her red apple martini and led a toast among two dozen of her supporters to mark the kick-off of her new venture.
The company began to offer its eco-friendly alternative transportation in May with cars parked in Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Culver City.
Members, who pay an annual membership fee of $25 and pass a driving record check, gain use of its eight cars at a rate of $7 an hour or $60 a day.
The cost includes a maximum travel distance of 180 miles a day, car insurance and gas.
Hebert said she is in talks with city officials to bring cars to parking spaces in West Hollywood within the next three months.
"We chose West Hollywood because it's a small enough city to make a large enough impact," she said. "Parking is really tight so we think it's a great partnership."
Her concept aims to fill the need left by Flexcar, a similar car-sharing program that had 150 cars stationed throughout the Los Angeles area, but reduced its fleet to locations at UCLA and USC in 2007.
Among those stopping by the party was Marc Bovee, whom Hebert called the driving force behind her fleet's expansion into West Hollywood.
Bovee, who lives in a nearby community, gave up his 1994 Jeep Wrangler seven years ago to save money and cut down on his carbon footprint.
He has used car-sharing programs instead of car rental companies for his local errands like grocery shopping, but has to take the train to Union Station where he picks up a Nissan Versa hatchback, the sole model in the LAXCarShare's fleet.
Standard features inside the car include air conditioning, a CD player, a radio with built-in Bluetooth device, power windows and power locks.
"I don't see the incentive to spend thousands of dollars of my own cash for something that I will replace in five years," he said. "It's green for me because I have more green at the end of the month. I'm not writing a check to the credit union for $450 for an Audi or have to stop and fill up a tank, every time I drive somewhere, for $40-$50."
Bovee said that it's his living and working situation that allows him to participate in car-sharing.
"I live in Hollywood and work at Universal Studios," he said. "Would this have the same appeal if I lived in Pomona and worked in Long Beach? Probably not. But having the infrastructure here in town is certainly a strong appeal to me."