Company Vows To Fight San Francisco Over App That Auctions Off Public Parking Spots

Last week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a cease-and-desist letter to mobile app company MonkeyParking, telling to quit allowing users to auction off their public park spots. But now the company’s CEO is all, “Bring it, because we’re not quitting without a fight,” if I might paraphrase his response.

He’s pledged to fight Herrera, who said the city would sue if MonkeyParking doesn’t pull its iOS app by July 11.

“We will fight this,” CEO Paolo Dobrowolny told VentureBeat, adding that the brouhaha “floored him.” “Just to be clear, I want to tell him [Herrera], we’re not selling parking spots. We’d actually like to be regulated in what we do. We’re hoping the politicians see the truth.”

That might be a tough position to sell — the app works by connecting people who are looking for a parking spot with those who are about to leave a public parking space, with users bidding on who gets the right to park.

Herrera wrote in his letter that while technology has produced many “laudable innovations in how we live and work,” MonkeyParking “is not one of them.”

“It’s illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate,” his letter reads. “Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving.”

Dobrowlny and his team insist, however, that their technology is simply a social sharing app that’s about communication, with the app pinging drivers when there are spots open in their desired location.

In an official statement from MonkeyParking, the company says it’s not selling spots, it’s trading on information — a line that seems awfully skinny.

The statement reads in part:

“We are very surprised that the City of San Francisco, which prides itself of being a liberal and tolerating city, does not see that their cease and desist letter is an open violation of free speech, contrary to the First Amendment of the US Constitution (“I have the right to tell people if I am about to leave a parking spot and they have the right to pay me for such information”).

The company adds that it’s consulting with legal counsel, and is confident that we would prevail [against] any such legal challenge against our service.”

MonkeyParking chief vows to fight San Francisco with every banana in its arsenal [Venture Beat]

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