San Francisco public officials are at odds once again with a tech company start-up the city has ordered to cease operation. MonkeyParking is an iPhone app that allows users to auction off their public parking space to the highest bidder.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a cease and desist letter to the MonkeyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny citing the company’s business model violates the San Francisco’s police code prohibiting the sale or lease of city street and sidewalks. The letter gives MonkeyParking until July 11 to cease their business operations in San Francisco. The MonkeyBusiness CEO claims the city is violating his free speech since the company is selling information about an available parking space and not selling the parking space itself.
Parking space at a premium in San Francisco
I have spent $275 on free parking spaces in San Francisco over the past five years. There was my $63 for a parking ticket on Labor Day. Those signs that say ‘Sunday and Holidays Excluded’ in San Francisco don’t bother to mention that Labor Day is not considered a holiday by the San Francisco public parking regulations. The other $200 was the replacement cost for my side mirror that was torn off by a passing car on the street when I returned to my car after a weekend hotel stay in San Francisco.
$275 is a lot of money to spend for free parking in public spaces. That is still a bargain compared to the $2,000+ in savings by parking my car for free on the street rather than pay $50+ per night charged by many San Francisco hotels.
My experience in San Francisco convinces me that MonkeyParking is an app that many drivers in San Francisco will covet. There are some street blocks in downtown San Francisco where there is no parking limit, except for the early morning hours on certain days for street cleaning. I have saved $100 or more in hotel parking charges on many occasions by finding a coveted space and leaving my car for one to three days in these unmetered zones.
In my opinion, there is a major difference in sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb where privately owned resources are sold to consumers. These sharing services provided through tech start-ups are acceptable as long as there are consumer protections in place like adequate insurance coverage for consumers.
MonkeyParking is one app I have to vote down. Buying public resources through group collusion between users of the MonkeyParking app is not providing a sharing service to the general public like the ridesharing and lodging services of Uber and Airbnb. MonkeyParking is manipulating public resources for private gain.
Parkatmyhouse.com is a popular London app that allows users to locate private parking spaces at houses, churches and other privately owned locations. This article on VentureBeat.com has the CEO of Parkatmyhouse criticizing the business model of MonkeyParking.
ParkatMyHouse.com will soon be releasing a U.S. based app.
What do you think? Is MonkeyParking a service you use or would use? What about Parkatmyhouse.com?