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Published on July 1st, 2014 | by Annie Hamdani

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MonkeyParking Auctions Public Street Parking, Defies San Francisco Ban

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MonkeyParking chief Paolo Dobrowolny

MonkeyParking’s chief Paolo Dobrowolny is no monkey!

Now among the most congested cities in the U.S., finding street parking in San Francisco is comparable to pulling teeth.

In 2012 it seemed like MonkeyParking, a Rome based start-up, found a pain-numbing solution in the form of an app – at least for those with smart phones and some spare cash.

MonkeyParking allows parked users to display their location while spot-seekers bid on those spaces for $5, $10, $15, or $20. The bidder then occupies the spot and pays the vacating driver through the app. Sounds like a high-tech panacea for the agonies of public parking, right?

Well, the city of San Francisco feels differently.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a letter on June 23rd stating “It’s illegal…it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely – to engage in online bidding wars while driving.”

Herrera issued a cease-and-desist demand against the company and others like it, citing $300 fines for those in violation of selling public spaces, and up to $2,500 per violation for the company according to an article by SF Gate.

MonkeyParking founders seems unperturbed. In an e-mail sent last Friday, CEO Paolo Dobrowolny insisted “MonkeyParking is not selling the parking space, we are selling the convenience of someone alerting another to an open space.”

A later comment by MonkeyParking’s lawyers accused the city of antiquated practices, calling the illegality of the app “another example of a local ordinance that was drafted in a pre-shared world economy which local authorities are improperly applying to a shared-economy service.”

The City’s press secretary Matt Dorsey remained unimpressed with MonkeyParking’s response.

“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 in a statement last Friday and equated the argument to “inventive verbal gymnastics.”

MonkeyParking has until July 11th to begin compliance with San Francisco’s demands, but shows no signs of conceding.

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