Mudslinging over Parking Apps in San Francisco
As we noted earlier, "a 'cease-and-desist letter' was sent June 23 to MonkeyParking, a Rome-based tech startup that developed and markets an app that allows motorists to auction public parking spaces beginning at $5."
City Attorney Dennis Herrera contends MonkeyParking and two other similar parking startups [ParkModo and Sweetch] also facing legal action have built business models entirely premised on illegal transactions - selling access to part of a public street, wrote John Coté earlier.
Coté updates the story, crediting MonkeyParking with "chutzpah." "In a newly released statement, MonkeyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny, derided Herrera’s cease and desist letter as 'an open violation of free speech'.”
“I have the right to tell people if I am about to leave a parking spot, and they have the right to pay me for such information,” Dobrowolny said, adding that "the city was improperly trying to apply a 'pre-shared economy' law to a 'shared economy' service.”
That defense didn't sit well with "Herrera spokesman Matt Dorsey (who) described that justification as “wildly inventive verbal gymnastics.”
Let’s be honest. It’s like a prostitute saying she’s not selling sex — she’s only selling information about her willingness to have sex with you,” Dorsey said. “It’s semantic hair splitting — and it’s absurd.”
Salon's Andrew Leonard was more direct: "This, pretty much everyone would agree, is an example of how the “sharing economy” can be totally bullshit."
In some cases, the parking app companies have done more than just sell information, as Coté indicated in his earlier piece.
One of the (three parking app) companies, ParkModo, is even hiring people at $13 an hour to occupy parking spaces in the trendy Mission District during the peak evening hours this week and then sell the spots as a way of promoting the company's smartphone app.
Herrera warned MonkeyParking that unless he shuts down the app by July 11, "(m)otorists would face $300 fines for each violation and MonkeyParking could be liable for penalties of up to $2,500 per transaction," writes Jessica Kwong of the San Francisco Examiner.