The cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are all moving forward with proposals to ban parking apps that allow you to sell your public-street spot to the highest bidder.
As far as we know, there's only one app that does that: MonkeyParking, which was already told to “cease and desist” by city officials in its native San Francisco, where it shut down in response.
The Bay Area situation, and user demand, inspired the app to set its sights on America's parking Mecca, Los Angeles and its environs. Santa Monica was targeted by the app as its local canary in a coalmine:
Well, that bird might be dead on arrival.
Last week Santa Monica city staff recommended that the City Council ban “the selling, leasing or reserving for compensation, or facilitate the selling, leasing or reserving for compensation, any street, sidewalk, alley, parkway, parking space, or other public space, without authorization from the city.
That ordinance received initial approval and will need a second vote to become law.
Staffers say Santa Monica received a business application from MonkeyParking last month, and they indicate that this recommendation is a direct response.
Beverly Hills, also on MonkeyParking's SoCal wish list, was scheduled to air a final vote tomorrow night on its own ban, which would prohibit “the payment or receipt of compensation (whether monetary, in-kind, or in any other form) for reserving or vacating any public parking space in the City of Beverly Hills and prohibits the facilitation of such transactions.”
On Friday the L.A. City Council approved a motion by Santa Monica-adjacent Councilman Mike Bonin to outlaw parking-sale apps in Los Angeles proper. Bonin says:
This is extortion masquerading as the sharing economy. The idea that individuals could personally profit from seizing and selling public parking spaces is just wrong and we're taking action to stop these parking pimps.
He said the app would allow “people to sell public assets for private gain” and make parking worse in a city that he argues has worked hard to upgrade meters and improve the experience of getting your spot on.
MonkeyParking says it will do its best to prevent greedy sellers from sitting on spaces for too long (via GPS) and foil people who might try to make a living off the app by limiting how often one person can sell spaces.
CEO Paolo Dobrowolny, whom we tried to reach for this story, has said that he also wants to work on possible revenue-sharing agreements with MonkeyParking cities (of which there are currently none).
It might all be too little, too late.