A new mobile app from an Italy-based developer will give San Francisco residents the opportunity to auction off a prime parking spot in the city to other drivers as they leave, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle website SFgate.com.
The app is called “MonkeyParking,” and it’s generating a fair amount of controversy on several fronts.
First, critics argue that the app’s users are auctioning off city-owned public property, something the city isn’t even sure is legal. They propose that the profits from the app would be better spent on repairing and updating San Francisco infrastructure, not lining the pockets of the app’s users, who could theoretically drive around and hoard scarce city parking spots for cash.
Second, critics have pointed out that the app could divide city residents into two groups: those that can afford to pay $20 for a parking spot and those that can’t.
Gabriel Zitrin, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s office, told the Chronicle that his office is investigating whether auctioning off city-owned property for private gain is legal. “So far, all we’ve determined for sure is that it’s extremely weird.”
MonkeyParking CEO and co-founder Paolo Dobrowolny defended his company in a statement to the Chronicle: “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.”
According to a report on the app from CBS San Francisco, the city has about 500,000 parking spots for its 750,000 residents; a woman in that report called parking in the city a “desperate situation.” An article published on SFgate.com in June of last year reported that a man sold a city parking spot in a prime location for $82,000.