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Parking Apps Switch Off in San Francisco Before City Deadline

| July 10, 2014
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MonkeyParking, an application that allows motorists to auction off parking spots for money, has been “temporarily disabled” in San Francisco following a June cease-and-desist order by the city attorney, the company blogged today.

In light of the cease and desist letter that we received from the City of San Francisco, we are currently reviewing our service to clarify our value proposition and avoid any future misunderstandings.

Street parking is currently not a first-come-first-served process, but still a random-served one. You can go in circles for hours while a lucky driver can find a spot in a minute, right in front of you. It is an old and painful problem, and we believe that drivers deserve a better solution.

Earlier the company had argued that it was selling “information” about parking spaces rather than the spaces themselves.

On June 23, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to MonkeyParking threatening to sue the company if the app wasn’t removed by the close of business this Friday, July 11. Herrera wrote that the app violates a San Francisco ordinance that forbids renting, leasing or selling street or sidewalk space. MonkeyParking would have been subject to penalties of up to $300 per violation and potentially liable for $2,500 per violation in civil penalties under California’s Unfair Competition Law.

The MonkeyParking app, as downloaded from the iTunes App Store in June, was explicit about what users were buying and selling. A setup screen says, “Make up to $150/month by selling your on-street parking spots.”

“You couldn’t decide that you were going to park a car at the end of your street and charge people a toll, you couldn’t take orange cones before the Internet and block off parking spaces and decide to sell them. It’s not your property to make a profit off of,” said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for Herrera.

Two other parking applications have also stopped serving San Francisco. ParkModo also disabled its app in San Francisco and Sweetch open-sourced its code, now calling itself Freetch.

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Category: News, Technology, Transportation

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About the Author ()

Lisa Pickoff-White is KQED's Senior Interactive News Producer. Her work has been honored with awards from the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and SXSW Interactive. Lisa specializes in visual journalism, including photography and data. Reach Lisa Pickoff-White at lpickoffwhite@kqed.org.

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