A mobile app that allows users to auction off the parking space they are occupying to nearby drivers as been given a cease and desist order from San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The app is called Monkey Parking and it has been operational in the city since at least April. It was created by a tech startup based in Rome and headed by CEO Paolo Dobrowolny. The app has a July 11 deadline to eliminate all operations in San Francisco.
Herrera has cited parts of San Francisco law that prohibit private citizens from selling public assets. Since parking spots on public streets are public assets, and Monkey Parking was attempting to allow users to sell them, the app was essentially founded on a principle that facilitates users in breaking the law. On these grounds, Herrera has not only demanded that Monkey Parking cease all operations but that Apple, whose app store currently hosts Monkey Parking, remove the app from its servers as well. If the July 11 deadline is not met, then Herrera intends to file suit against the company. Herrera and his team of prosecutors argue that the law states that for every transaction that was made through the app, the company is on the hook for $2,500 in damages.
Parking spot auctions
Auctioning off parking spaces is not the only way in which intrepid startups are attempting to cash in on the parking limitations of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sweetch is an app that charges its users $5 to park in a spot that it gets from another Sweetch member. Users are then reimbursed $4 if they pass off the spot to another Sweetch member. In addition, ParkModo pays people a rate of $13 per hour to occupy parking spots in busy neighborhoods. These apps are likely to face similar pushback from the San Francisco city government for their attempts to skirt public parking laws.
While it is true that you can buy almost anything at an auction, public parking spots are seemingly off the table. Herrera was clear to say that private parking locations in driveways could be sold or otherwise used however the owners wished. However, when it comes to selling public parking spots, the message is clear: No sale.
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