Disruptive parking apps back off | Cult of Mac

Disruptive parking apps back off


MonkeyParking is under fire by the city of San Francisco. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
MonkeyParking is under fire by the city of San Francisco. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — You can buy and sell a lot of things in this boom town, just not public parking spaces. All three parking apps called out by the city attorney for auctioning or selling public spaces have backed off.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera slapped MonkeyParking with a cease-and-desist on June 23 and mentioned that similar apps Sweetch and ParkModo were next in line. Each took a different tack — defiant, conciliatory, quiet — but in the end, all three are on hiatus.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Sweetch’s developers say it’s nothing like MonkeyParking, a pay-to-park app that drew the ire of San Francisco city officials. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

“The shared economy trades on information, not on goods or services or other commodities. We are very surprised that the City of San Francisco, which prides itself of being a liberal and tolerating (sic) city, does not see that their cease and desist letter is an open violation of free speech,” MonkeyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said following the cease-and-desist. However, by today’s deadline the company blog confirmed that the service is temporarily disabled.

ParkModo, which was not available in the app store, mostly stayed out of the public fray, but also seemed confident that it would soon be street legal.

“If the app were live in San Francisco – we would not be breaking the police code Herrera cites. It’s simply the exchange of information. We do not hire people to squat in spots – we have an algorithm that prevents that behavior,” founder Dan Shifrin told us via email. “This app was designed to help the environment. Parking search is the major cause of environmental, productivity and pedestrian problems in cities. The government should investigate prior to arbitrarily calling us out.”

While ParkModo has assured the city attorney that it will not provide or sell parking information, it maintains that users outside of San Francisco will still be able to use the service in other locations.

Sweetch took a different tack.  The three young entrepreneurs made haste to City Hall to salvage their dream of making circling the block for parking a thing of the past. The city lawyers weren’t convinced and now they have decided “postpone any further meetings indefinitely until Sweetch solidifies its new business plan.”

The guys behind Sweetch, passionate about all issues surrounding parking, already have other ideas. Co-founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi told Cult of Mac they are hard at work on spotAngels, a new app that will alert you before your car gets towed away for street cleaning.

We can all say ‘Amen’ to that.


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