Earlier this week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Paolo Dobrowolny, the CEO of Monkey Parking, a mobile app that allows users to auction their public parking spots.
Parking can be hard to find in any big city, and San Francisco is no exception. The Monkey Parking app has the potential to alleviate citizens’ parking woes; there is only one problem, though: it is illegal for anyone to buy and sell public on-street parking in the city. Police Code section 63(c) states this directive, and furthermore, it says anyone involved in such activities can incur a fine as great at $300 for each infraction.
Herrera’s letter expands on the explanation of the law and says that Monkey Parking could also be liable for infringement of California’s Unfair Competition Law which carries with it a possible maximum fine of $2,500 per violation. The letter says Dobrowolny and Monkey Parking have until July 11 to comply or the city will pursue action in civil court.
Not only has Herrera sent a cease-and-desist letter to Monkey Parking, it has also copied Apple Inc. and asks the computing giant to remove the infriniging application from its App Store. According to the City Attorney’s office, all apps in Apple’s App Store “must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users.” It is clear that Monkey App does not conform to that expectation, so Herrera asked Apple to remove the app based on a violation of its own guidelines.
As of the writing of this article, Apple has not appeared to grant Herrera’s request; the app is still live in the store. Neither has Dobrowolny decided to comply with Herrera’s demands. According to a report Thursday at CBS Local, Dobrowolny released a statement in response to Herrera’s letter that criticized his request that Monkey Parking cease and desist.
Dobrowolny reportedly said, “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.”
The citizens of San Francisco, Herrera, and Dobrowolny are not the only people who are taking an interest in this development. The creator of the London-based parking service Parkatmyhouse.com, Anthony Eskinazi, says his own service, which allows users to rent out private spaces for parking, works within the law.
He firmly criticized Monkey Parking for attempting to operate outside it.
“They’re a headache,” Eskinazi said of the maligned mobile app. “They’re creating parking rage.” He says the app is giving legal parking services such as his a poor reputation.
Despite any controversy, though, Parkatmyhouse.com is not doing so poorly. Venture Beat says it took in $10 million last year. One of its clients has made nearly $500,000 renting out spaces near the Chunnel in London.
Venture Beat says it has been in touch with Dobrowolny who commented that he is currently consulting his lawyers to determine his next move regarding Herrera’s demands.
Image courtesy of Yair Haklai via Wikimedia Commons