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San Francisco attacks parking spot auction app MonkeyParking

updated 09:56 am EDT, Tue June 24, 2014

Public parking space resale apps come under fire from San Francisco City Attorney

San Francisco is taking a stance against apps that provide paid street parking services. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sent a cease-and-desist notice to MonkeyParking, an app which allows drivers to sell their parking space to other motorists, which Herrera believes is an illegal practice that could land participants in parking auctions a fine of $300, and the company itself a fine of $2,500 per violation.

"It creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate," writes Herrera in a press release. "Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely - to engage in online bidding wars while driving." Pointing out that the rental of privately-owned driveways and garage spaces is legal, Herrera goes on to state "We will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit."

Two other apps are also in the firing line, according to Herrera. Sweetch charges $5 for a parking spot in a similar manner, with the driver passing their spot on receiving $4. ParkModo, set to launch in the near future, will apparently employ other drivers to occupy parking spaces in the Mission District, with spaces then sold through a mobile app.

MonkeyParking's CEO, Paolo Dobrowolny, told Ars Technica "As a general principle we believe that a new company providing value to people should be regulated and not banned. This applies also to companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft that are continuously facing difficulties when delivering something that makes user happy. Regulation is fundamental in driving innovation, while banning is just stopping it."

Herrera has given MonkeyParking until July 11th to cease operating before he launches the lawsuit.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    Are they squatting on public parking places until someone wants to pay extra to park there? Or are these only no-charge public parking places with them doing the same thing? As for these companies thinking this is legal, guess again. The public parking spot is not their property, it's the City of San Francisco's. This sounds like a business. Where's their business license? Even if they were only dealing with private parking spaces, they're talking about sub-letting the rental spot, which is also illegal unless each private rental agreement states it can be done. Of course, the parking space owner should get the money associated with any renting of the spot. Why do people think it's ok to do whatever they want to do in the name of "providing value" when the value they're providing is not theirs to provide?

  1. pottymouth

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-19-03

    Airbnb and Uber "banned"? I must have missed that. I thought they were simply asked to obey the laws pertaining to all hotels and taxis. Those seem like loopholes that need to be closed. But holding and renting public street parking spaces isn't a loophole, it's illegal. And damn unneighborly.

  1. TheGreatButcher

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 06-11-00

    This isn't innovation. This is auctioning off access to something that doesn't belong to them. Not much different than someone putting up traffic cones block to a public parking space and saying "sorry, reserved for someone else who paid me to hold it for them."

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    I wouldn't be surprised if many of the users were Google employees who have invaded San Francisco, driving out many longtime residents (Google sends buses to pick them up in the city and take them to work). They think everything is theirs, and regular people are peons.

  1. apple4ever

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-15-01

    Just another example of government stifling innovation. There is demand for these services, and people are providing them. But because the government isn't getting their cut, the peons must suffer.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by apple4everView Post

    Just another example of government stifling innovation. There is demand for these services, and people are providing them. But because the government isn't getting their cut, the peons must suffer.

    Except, um, the government is providing the actual parking spaces. So it's kind of up to them to decide how they may be used, and who gets to make money off them.

    Let the people providing the services provide the parking spaces, and we're talking.

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