MonkeyParking, an Italian startup that lets people pay to claim parking spaces before someone leaves, is suspending service in San Francisco after a legal standoff with city officials.
The city has argued that the app puts a private tax on a public good
The startup's app lets parked users put their spot up for auction; other users in the area can then bid for the space. MonkeyParking has argued that users are only paying for information, not parking spaces, but others — including government officials in San Francisco — have argued that the app puts a private tax on a public good. Last month, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent cease and desist letters to MonkeyParking and two similar startups, saying the companies would face fines and legal action if they continued operating in the city.
Although MonkeyParking had said it would continue despite potential legal action, a new blog post from the team says service has been "temporary disabled in the San Francisco area." That doesn't, however, mean MonkeyParking thinks it's in the wrong. It may be bluster, but they're promising — or threatening, depending on how you feel about the service — to come up with a way to continue operating in San Francisco. Meanwhile, ParkModo, an app that also received a cease and desist letter from San Francisco officials, is being used in New York City and Chicago. Whether MonkeyParking will similarly attempt to expand service, or San Francisco’s action will pressure other cities to clamp down on the apps, remains to be seen.