updated 10:42 am EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
Public parking spot resale service claims legitimacy, will continue to operate
Startup public parking spot sale app Monkey Parking has vowed to fight the cease-and-desist served onto it earlier this week. The company is claiming that the order is a misinterpretation and invalid use of San Francisco police code, and believes that the model of selling a parking spot that a driver is about to depart is protected by free speech rights.
While issuing the stop order to the company earlier this week, which also demanded Apple retract the still available iOS app, city attorney Dennis Herrera said that the service "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."
"Parked users can make some money just by notifying drivers about the time in which they will leave from a spot," CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said. "It just gives our users all they need to be in the right place at the right time when a parking spot is going to become available. As people leave from parking spots every day, we are just making that moment a valuable moment for them, while providing a service to drivers looking for parking."
City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey likens the sale of parking spots to the sex trade. "It's like a prostitute saying she's not selling sex -- she's only selling information about her willingness to have sex with you. One could similarly imagine drug dealers avoiding 'intent to sell' charges by merely selling information about nearby illicit drugs that are actually available for free. But until and unless the law changes, their business is plainly illegal in San Francisco."
There are multiple companies offering a parking spot resale app, both charge around $5 for each sale, with the person surrendering the spot receiving $3. The cease-and-desist order promises participants in the auctions a fine of $300, and the company a $2,500 per auction penalty as well. The companies have until July 11 before a lawsuit is started by the city.