San Francisco has stifled the idea of selling your parking space by ordering a cease-and-desist to Monkey Parking, an app that allows the user to auction his parking space to other drivers.
“Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work—and Monkey Parking is not one of them,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement. “It’s illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.”
Monkey Parking, which is a Rome-based startup run by three friends from high school, allows drivers to bid anywhere from $5 to $20 on a parking space. According to Herrera’s letter to Monkey Parking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny, if Monkey Parking continues to operate past July 11 then a lawsuit is imminent.
“San Francisco Police Code Section 63(b) specifically prohibits the buying and selling of public street parking access,” Herrera said in the letter. “Monkey Parking is facilitating and encouraging its users to enter unlawful agreements with each other, and misleading them into believing their actions are lawful.”
The City Attorney’s Office stated an intent to issue cease-and-desist orders to two more parking apps, Sweetch and ParkModo, even though ParkModo has not even officially launched. Herrera’s letter also asked the Apple store to remove the Monkey Parking app.
In this case, Monkey Parking is directly violating a San Francisco law. Public parking spaces are owned by the city. However, drivers — and Monkey Parking’s owners — might argue that drivers should be permitted to give their parking spaces to whomever they choose. Future businessmen might just have to find a different way to barter the good parking spots without using cash.