Parking Monkey, Ejected from San Francisco, Heads for Santa Monica and Beverly Hills

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

They blamed it on the bad monkeys.

Rome-based Parking Monkey, kicked out of San Francisco in June, announced on its website that the company has tailored its innovative computer app for securing and selling public street parking―to avoid abuse by greedheads―and is introducing its MonkeyReputation System to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

“We took into serious consideration any concern that has been made regarding our service and we worked hard to build a platform ensuring a trustful MonkeyParkers community,” Parking Monkey said in its announcement.

Those “concerns” were about what San Francisco considered an illegal app, according to a cease-and-desist order pursued by city attorneys. The startup lets iPhone users sitting in much-sought-after public parking spaces hook up with desperate and/or appreciative drivers headed their way. MonkeyParking drivers can auction off their space starting at $5 with default options up to $20.

Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould, who recently met with company officials, complained to the Los Angeles Register that the app “plays havoc” with the city’s parking strategy, which aims to make parking easier for a group larger than Parking Monkey users.

“We see no validity whatsoever in any application that would seek to auction off public parking spaces to the highest bidder . . . and we will take whatever steps we can to prevent its use in Santa Monica,” he said.

Gould said the city council would see an ordinance banning the app startup within a couple weeks.

So that’s a maybe, right?

The Register said that Monkey Parking co-founder Paolo Dobrowolny was optimistic about the Southern California market. The company offered to share its data on traffic flow, and maybe some revenues, with Santa Monica, he said.

Parking Monkey is competing with parking app startups that are helping drivers find parking spots with information from multiple sources, but are more benign. They don’t auction off public space. Parking Monkey said a few rule changes could eliminate users of the system who were driving around town grabbing in-demand spaces just to auction them off. They had a high turnover.

So, Parking Monkey proposed to monitor users’ behavior and limit their activities to two daily transactions. But, “above all, we believe that MonkeyParkers are good guys and we will heavily rely on their feedbacks on other users’ behavior.”

When it officially launches, no bad monkeys need apply to participate.    

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Santa Monica May Outlaw Controversial Parking App (by Joanna Clay, Los Angeles Register)

Chased from San Francisco, Parking Startup Pops Up in Socal (by Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica)

Kicked Out of San Francisco, MonkeyParking App Plans a Fresh Start in Santa Monica (by Gene Maddaus, LA Weekly)

S.F. Tells Startup to Stop Selling Public Parking Spaces Using Smartphone App (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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