Yesterday, the City of San Francisco cracked down on MonkeyParking, a mobile app that lets users post info about the parking spot they are about to leave for a price. According to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who threatened MonkeyParking and two other startups with a lawsuit, selling access to public spaces (the parking spot) is illegal.
As a San Franciscan, I am outraged by the cost of parking tickets in the city, specifically when I think about people who earn low wages.
According to an article published on SFgate, San Francisco moved to the nation’s top spot for the most expensive parking tickets in June 2013, at $74 downtown and $64 outside.
I remember Edwin M. Lee, the mayor of San Francisco, at Web 2.0 Summit 2011, when he asked for the help of developers to innovate for the parking business, he did not get the applause he was looking for (minutes 4.44 to 5.36 in the video after the jump).
Even though I used to live in Paris, one of the most expensive cities in the world where the parking ticket price was only at 11 Euros for over 25 years (17 Euros / $24 since summer 2011), I was certainly not the only one in the room to be unhappy about the parking crisis in San Francisco.
As a matter of fact, the city of San Francisco made over $88 million with 1,549,518 parking citations last year (FY 2012-2013), according to David Labua article in 7×7. Pretty good money! Basically this is a hidden tax, with the difference that regular taxes are calculated according to one’s revenue.
I guess that MonkeyParking does not provide the help the mayor was looking for, however, we can wonder if a cease-and-desist letter is the correct answer, it looks pretty contradictory to ask for help and use legal threats later.
Some people can argue that auctioning parking spots might develop a counter productive solution, as many people looking to make a quick buck could hover for hours in the street holding parking spots and selling them, making that issue even bigger.
Thanks to other innovative startups who heard Edwin M. Lee’s plea, there might be alternative solutions. For example, CARMAnation application lets users offer their private parking space for free, for a fee or for a donation to a charity. Check the video demo here and see below our email interview with Ashley Cummings, founder& VP of Communications about CARMAnation:
When was CARMAnation started?
CARMAnation was founded in January 2013.
When was the service launched, is it still in beta?
We launched out of private beta in February 2014. It is now available at www.CARMAnation.com to the public and no longer in beta.
How does it works?
CARMAnation is a peer-to-peer sharing community that is making parking more convenient and affordable. There are 471,388 registered vehicles in San Francisco but only 441,541 public parking spaces available. Frustrated with cost and lack of parking in San Francisco, the company created a simple way to share private unused parking spaces.
The workings are simple: offer your spot free, name your own price, or offer it in exchange for a donation towards your favorite local charity organization. We’ve partnered with six local Bay Area charities for our users to give back to the community through parking (Make-a-Wish, Habitat for Humanity, Family House, Raphael House, Project Night Night and Guide Dogs for the Blind.)
There are three ways a user can offer their spot:
- When a user offers their spot for cash value, we retain 15% on the transaction.
- When a user offers their spot for charity, we only retain the $0.30 fee per transaction, which we ourselves are charged by Stripe. The additional amount goes directly to the charity.
- When a user trades their spot for free, we receive satisfaction and charge $0.00.
How many users so far?
We’ve had several thousand people become part of the CARMAnation community, who are both listing their spots and renting other people’s spots. We’ve had over 100 parking spots listed.
Who are the founders and the team?
Ilya Movshovich, Founder & CEO
Ashley Cummings, Founder & VP of Communications