City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued an immediate cease-and-desist order Monday to parking apps such as Monkey Parking, a mobile peer-to-peer bidding app that allows drivers to auction off public parking spaces.
Today’s decision also impacts other parking apps—including Sweetch, which allows drivers to earn money by selling their spots to nearby drivers for a fee of $5. Monkey Parking uses a bidding system that allows drivers to take the highest bid for their parking space. CARMAnation, another app, charges up to a $2 fee for renting out a private parking spot and will not be affected by the ban. Drivers using its app can also hand over their spot for free or donate the $2 to charity.
Herrera made it clear that any app charging for public parking, however, violates a “key provision” of the city’s police code that prohibits “companies from buying, selling or leasing public on-street parking.”
Those who violate the provision face “administrative penalties of up to $300 for each violation.”
“Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work — and Monkey Parking is not one of them,” Herrera said. “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.”
Herrera’s cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking includes a request to the legal department of Apple Inc., which is copied on the letter, asking that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant immediately remove the mobile application from its App Store for violating several of the company’s own guidelines. Apple App Store Review Guidelines provide that “Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users” and that “Apps whose use may result in physical harm may be rejected.”
It is unclear if the developers working on parking apps will take the decision to court.
CARMAtion was the only app pleased by the decision. “Companies should look to help solve urban living issues through technology, instead of taking advantage of public property or city residents,” the company said in a statement it released today. “Parking is one of the biggest problems in cities like San Francisco, due to the lack of and high cost associated with it.