A new app, cutely christened MonkeyParking, allows drivers to auction off their prime public parking spots in San Francisco to the highest bidder. Kudos to those of you who want to park your Tesla right in front of Puerto Alegre. Yet again, the world is yours.
But you don't have to be a Lower Haight resident to use the newfangled app. Nope. Drivers can bid anywhere from $10, $15, $20, or more for a parking spot swap. Some people, though, are none too thrilled about it. For example:
.@MonkeyParking you are everything that is wrong with tech and everything that is wrong with with what is becoming of San Francisco.— Alex Halpern (@HalpernAlex) May 1, 2014
I wonder if @MonkeyParking's next product will be to let people sell their seats on #SFMuni.— EC (@EC) May 4, 2014
For their part, MonkeyParking claims that they're in the app business for reducing traffic, not money. (Perish the thought.) Paolo Dobrowolny, co-founder of MonkeyParking, tells SFGate, "It’s a fair business for anybody...It’s not just for rich people. If you think you can get that money back when you leave that parking spot, you can earn back the money when you leave the spot."
As for parking spaces, there just aren't enough of them in the city. (Then again, what driver anywhere thinks there's enough parking, ever?) KTVU notes:
Like many large cities, parking is at a premium in San Francisco. SF MUNI's parking census, which has yet to be officially released, shows 440,000 spaces available. Of those, 275,000 are street parking. "That makes up about 900 miles, and that's larger than California's coastline," said MUNI spokesman, Paul Rose. "But in a city like San Francisco, those spaces are limited."
However, according to Jackson West of Uptown Almanac, this app could hinder much-needed funds going to improve land and infrastructure improvements on public property. In part, he writes:
The thing is, a ridiculously large portion of the 49 square miles in San Francisco is set aside for parking cars. And what the city owns, it hardly charges enough for. The SFPark program introduced in 2010 has used a different method to achieve goals similar to those stated by MonkeyParking, which is to assure parking availability even during busy times: By increasing the cost of the most popular spots. But that money goes straight to the SFMTA, which perpetually needs it for things like paying the Police Department millions for “security services”—as it should, because that land and the infrastructure improvements on it are public property.
In the end, MonkeyParking sits in the same genre as Airbnb, only this time they're using public space for commodity, while ostensibly claiming to provide "valuable information for everybody."