Government Law

Illegal app helps drivers get highest bid to vacate public parking spots, city attorney says

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Desperate for scarce public parking spaces, some city drivers may be ready to pay strangers who are about to pull their vehicles away from the curb to reserve the spots.

And those who have managed to snag a space could earn up to $150 a month by selling the spot they are about to vacate to the highest bidder, suggests MonkeyParking, which offers an app for that very purpose, currently available in San Francisco and Rome.

There’s just one problem with this scenario, though: It’s illegal to buy or sell a city parking space, at least in San Francisco, according to city attorney Dennis Herrera. In a letter sent Monday to MonkeyParking, he calls for the company to cease activity in San Francisco by July 11, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The letter is also copied to the general counsel of Apple Inc., with a request to remove the MonkeyParking option from its App Store. Currently, the app is available only on Apple devices.

“Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work,” said Herrera in a written statement provided to the newspaper. “MonkeyParking is not one of them.”

The chief executive of the startup company, which is based in Rome, Italy, could not immediately be reached by the Chronicle for comment. However, Paolo Dobrowolny previously told the San Francisco Chronicle: “We’re just providing information when someone is leaving, that is valuable information for everybody.”

The SF Weekly and Uptown Almanac provide additional details.

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