An Italian startup that lets people buy and sell city-owned parking spots to one another plans to ignore efforts to crack down on its business and those who use it. Monkey Parking today said it will keep offering a way for people in public spots to "sell" their spot to another user of the service before vacating it, something that has typically been an open market for any nearby driver who happens upon it. Earlier this week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent out cease-and-desist letters to Monkey Parking and two local startups, warning them that that handoff between drivers was illegal and could net up to a $300 ticket. Herrera also warned that the company could be subject to $2,500 fine for each of those violation as part of California's tough Unfair Competition Law.
Will parking be saved by the constitution?
According to the Associated Press, Monkey Parking's CEO Paolo Dobrowolny views Herrera's order as a misapplication of police code, and believes the company's business model is protected by freedom of speech. Dobrowolny's company and others like it have argued that the service improves traffic congestion while cutting the amount of time people spend hunting for a spot, both things the city has argued make it predatory.
Herrera's letters to Monkey Parking earlier this week warned of legal action if the company did not stop its operations within San Francisco by July 11th. Herrera also threatened to take similar action with Sweetch and ParkModo, the latter of which works just like Monkey Parking. The startup appears to have already given up on San Francisco, and is now focusing on New York and Chicago instead. Along with these companies, Herrera requested that Monkey Parking be removed from Apple's App Store, though it's still available.