iPhone parking apps fuel more class envy rage in San Francisco

“For traffic-snarled San Francisco, an app that allowed drivers to auction off their street parking spaces to the highest bidder seemed a natural fit for a city on the cutting edge of technology and commerce,” David Weidner reports for MarketWatch. “Instead, MonkeyParking has become the latest flash point in the growing conflict between mobile technology’s ability to make life easier (and costlier) and an establishment that sees such apps as a way to circumvent the rules.”

“City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Monday sent a cease-and-desist letter to MonkeyParking’s developers and a request to Apple Inc.’s general counsel asking that the company remove the app from its store,” Weidner reports. “Two other apps that provide a similar service are being targeted by Herrera’s office: Sweetch SF and the yet-to-be-launched ParkModo, which pays drivers to hold parking spaces and then sells them. ‘Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work — and Monkey Parking is not one of them,’ Herrera said.”

“Paulo Dobrowolny, chief executive and co-founder of Rome-base MonkeyParking, disputed the assertion that his service wasn’t beneficial. MonkeyParking lawyers issued a statement Thursday asserting that the app was being unfairly targeted,” Weidner reports. “‘A new company providing value to people should be regulated and not banned,’ Dobrowolny said. ‘This applies also to companies like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft that are continuously facing difficulties while delivering something that makes users happy. Regulation is fundamental in driving innovation, while banning is just stopping it.'”

“The city says selling parking spaces violates a law banning the buying and selling of public resources. And to some in a city tense about the distribution of wealth among its residents, MonkeyParking reflects how the city’s tech riches have distorted the marketplace,” Weidner reports. “The message seems to be, if you can’t afford to rent or park here, try Oakland… By contrast, cities such as Pisa, Italy, are working with app developers to ease traffic in a way that attempts to balance public interests. City officials there are working with telecom providers and urban mobility startup Kiunsys on a system that uses ground sensors to help drivers find parking spots more quickly, thereby cutting down on traffic and pollution.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I would be seriously POed if I was searching for a parking spot and some a-hole was sitting on it waiting for someone else to come and take it for a few bucks. It would make my blood boil. That space is public property and not anyone’s to sell. Those who have the audacity to do that are courting confrontation.

    And although it’s a slightly different situation, I feel the same about people who stand in line for others who can’t be bothered to do it themselves.

    1. Yes I don’t think anyone should be allowed to hold public parking spot property for sale either. The city, to be fair, needs to somehow put in sensors that indicate an empty space and apps can help you locate the empty ones. Though of course anyone attempting to find a parking spot looking at their phone with SF city traffic is begging for an accident. CarPlay and similar systems parking notification app seem to be the way to go. Waitaminute, THEN people might be racing around to get to the same spots. No good answers here.

    2. I sort of agree with you, but that “a-hole” paid for the parking space, and is within their right to stay there as long as they pay for the spot (up to the limits, if any).

      1. I side with jwsc01. Yes, a person has the right to occupy the space for the posted time limit as long has s/he is feeding the meter (or whatever). That person doesn’t have the right “squat” on the space in an effort to gain monetary profit. What’s not mentioned here is that those time limits are usually put in place to allow customers of small business owners on the street to transact commerce. Part of their property and business taxes go for the maintenance and enforcement of the parking restrictions. This squatting practice indirectly hurts the trade of these businesses.
        Finding a parking space is a real hassle, agreed. Sensors and a system for alerting nearby drivers of open parking spots is an answer, and city councils ought to be examining the potential. But I think this is one of those technological ideas where “can we do it?” was asked without the “should we do it?” component. They obviously didn’t go through any public discourse on the idea before dropping on the public. It’s hard to imagine that no one within these companies didn’t see the potential ramifications that are now surfacing.

    3. What should make your blood boil is the ignorant and short-sighted municipal policies that supposedly discourage driving cars in the city. These policies are responsible for severe shortages of parking, the philosophy being, “If we don’t build it they won’t come.” Hello? Have you noticed that they come anyway? It’s the same in Portland (which in its own grubby little provincial heart wants to mimic everything SF does) where parking, if you can find it, is $15 to $20 for 8 hours, and parking spaces are actively regulated with parking space MAXIMUM limits for businesses and others.

      A pox on SF and its parking and other problems (I worked there every day for 12 years). They actively worked to create what they have now, so they should just stop the whining. They created a market for premium priced parking spaces, and now they are indignant that people are selling them. That’s Progressive politics and social policy for you.

  2. Sounds like the simple solution is to get rid of all the parking spaces in the city. It’s isn’t like there will ever be enough spaces at the places people want to go at the time they want to go there anyway. Bring back the cable cars and automate them. Make them free. that way they never stop or need parking and they are always going by the place people want to go.

  3. AirBnB, Lyft, and Uber connect people to someone else’s own personal, *private* resources (homes, vehicles), which they should be free to do with as they please (with common sense legal limits to prevent harm to others).

    This app is reserving city public property, or possibly someone *else’s* private property e.g. paid lot, for private profit (the app is clear it’s not talking about anyone’s *private* parking spot). Of course the city’s getting involved.

  4. I suggest using the software to locate parking spots. Then stop your car behind them, to “wait for” their release. Don’t pay them, and if a police officer comes by, tell them the guy is trying to illegally sell his parking spot and you won’t pay them.

  5. This kind of discussion makes me smile. I live in a log cabin in the woods, accessible from a single-car-wide trail. Beauty, serenity, peace.

    At the entrance to the trail there’s a sign: Hikers Only. But hikers with any sense don’t repeat this one. There are long uphill stretches, each way.

    I occasionally visit concrete jungles in the U.S. and Europe, but get around by taxi.

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