If there is ever a city whose residents don’t want someone monkeying with their parking, it’s West Hollywood.
To make that uber clear, the City Council on Monday will consider a proposal that would the ban the use of mobile phone apps to auction off parking spaces.
The proposal, drafted by the city’s Department of Public Works, makes reference to MonkeyParking, a mobile phone app that lets someone occupying a parking space auction it off to someone looking for a space before he drives away.
MonkeyParking was created by Paolo Dobrowolny, a Rome-based digital entrepreneur. San Francisco banned use of the app last year. In an interview with the L.A. Weekly, Dobrowolny said he now was looking at the Los Angeles area, specifically calling out Beverly Hills and Hollywood as possible markets. Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica quickly barred use of the app. MonkeyParking now markets itself in San Francisco as a way for drivers to find parking in private driveways. The West Hollywood Public Works Department proposal is to make sure no one monkeys with parking availability in WeHo. It says the app interferes “with fair and equal access to public resorces.”
In passing an ordinance banning such apps, the Council would make it possible for the city attorney to issue a “cease and desist” order if anyone is discovering marketing such an app in West Hollywood.
MonkeyParking and developers of similar apps such as Sweetch and ParkModo have argued that they aren’t auctioning parking spaces but are selling information about where and when a space might be available.
A driver with a MonkeyParking app registers his parking spot. MonkeyParking then alerts other drivers looking for a parking place in the same area. A driver interested in that space makes an offer to the driver occupying it. If the parked driver accepts, the newcomer pays him through MonkeyApp, which takes a cut of the payment.
An argument for such apps offered by some academics is that they make it possible to price parking according to demand, something that Uber now does with its surge pricing surcharge and something that the San Francisco Parking Authority is testing with its SFPark system. That system offers a live online map of available parking spaces and applies a surcharge to meters in certain areas during high demand periods. But those who oppose private apps argue that they could lead to people occupying desirable parking spots just so they can auction them off and make money.