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Cellphones Software The Almighty Buck Transportation

San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App 404

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-tech-for-you dept.
A couple months ago, we discussed a new phone app being used in San Francisco to auction off parking spaces to the highest bidder. The city has now ordered the app makers to cease and desist, and threatened motorists with a $300 fine for each transaction. City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work -- and Monkey Parking 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. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.
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San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App

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  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @01:42PM (#47307737) Journal

    It occurs to me that knowing where a parking space is available would reduce time spent driving around, itself reducing pollution, excess expenditure on additional fuel, the clogging of streets, and other issues associated with tons of traffic driving in circles throughout the city.

    These people are providing the city the great and valuable service of a functional smart parking grid operating when parking congestion is high.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @01:43PM (#47307739)

    I can see this type of service continuing on.

    1: Parking spaces are in demand.
    2: People are willing to pay cash for one.
    3: Other people want money.

    All that needs to happen is that the server gets moved offshore, and the app be made as a Web app so it survives being pulled from Apple's store.

    I remember this exact same thing happening at a place I worked at when in college. They were such sticklers about being on time for shift that a second late on the phones meant a six month denial of promotions, and being late for any reason three times is an automatic termination. So, people from the neighborhood would fill this place's parking lot up about an hour before shift changed and demand cash... and the employees of this firm would pony up to a C-note in order to get a place, drive a car about a half mile from the office and park in a seedy neighborhood, or be late and stuck on the phones for another half-year with a freeze on raises.

    I applaud SF banning this app, but in reality, it won't help, and this is just the start of it. I won't be surprised to see a black market for parking spaces, with people sitting for hours to "sell" theirs, happening soon. Especially home games in university towns or other places where people go for an event.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @01:54PM (#47307869)

    Will understand that this app is a solution, not a problem. It's much safer to drive to a parking spot that you know will be available and sufficient to fit into than circling blocks for half an hour while paying more attention to the curb than traffic and pedestrians. It's city's fault for not designing streets for both residents and expected number of visitors. They shouldn't scapegoat the app for providing a service that people want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:01PM (#47307947)
    Scalping is legal practically anywhere these days (except typically on the premises for the event). Wrigley field has legalized scalping. Last time I was in Atlanta, they had a line drawn a few hundred yards from the stadium at which point it was legal to scalp tickets. Have you heard of Stubhub? The secondary market is huge. Regardless, it's nothing like that. Event tickets are not public property.
  • Re:Enforceable ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wycliffe (116160) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:08PM (#47308011) Homepage

    Is the money collected in person? Or does the spot holder wait for a specific license plate?
    Either way, a sting operation should be easy enough to set up. The spots are physically
    in SF so I don't think they can ban the app but they can certainly fine people for using this app
    or any other method to require money in order vacate a spot.

  • subject (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:13PM (#47308059)

    I've yet to see downtown parking in any city that wasn't already predatory and a scam. Usually, however, that's perpetrated by the city, not some app.

    The city intentionally zones and permits businesses to concentrate tax revenue within a small area.
    Buildings get taller, roads get narrower...
    Then the city complains about congestion, charges insane fees for parking, trys to charge to even bring a car downtown.
    I know! Bycycles will fix it! So they take away the parking lane and turn it into a bike lane... Now the bike racks are full. Better start charging for bike parking to!

    These issues are directly caused by the city governments themselves. I've no sympathy at all for them. Stop concentrating population density, let it spread out. I know you get a lot of tax revenue because of it. But how much is it costing?

  • My workaround (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:25PM (#47308185)

    Whenever I have lived in a city, I use public transportation.

    I find cars to be such a burden - financially (payments, taxes, insurance, maintenance) and the hassles of parking, registration, maintenance, etc ...

    The automobile gives the illusion of freedom while making us a slave to the insurance, banker, and tax man/government.

    When I think about it, I'd be more than happy to be taxed a bit more and have great European style mass transit than a car.

    Also, it's a regressive expense. Meaning, automobile costs - even if you have the cheapest shitbox you can find - is still a much larger portion of a poor person's budget than a rich person who has the top of the line Mercedes or BMW.

    And then there's the environmental: Autos are rolling toxic waste dumps. Antifreeze, oil, gas and all the solvents necessary in their making and mainenance. And of course the air pollution.

    Then there's the political. Our addiction to the automobile and the petroleum has financed evil people with petro-dollars.

    Less face it, the automobile is one of the most evil creations of man.

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:43PM (#47308359)

    No, the city already has parking motion detectors on their parking meters that can detect when a street parking space is vacated and the city also makes available a free real-time api that third party developers can use for republishing that information (for free, or even for a profit if those third party desire). There are already several apps on the market that do this (that the city has no problem with)

    What this particular app encouraged was to keep parking spaces occupied, until a particular ransom was paid. This meant that cars with disabled placards (which are not required to pay anything, and not required to move by a certain time) would have the incentive to hold a parking space indefinitely until they got paid. And this also meant that some business storefront owners could hold spaces by placing junk/furniture/pots of flowers on a parking space, so that no other car could pull into it unless they got paid off as well.

    Unfortunately, holding parking spaces illegally is already a common practice in San Francisco (even before that mobile application came on the market). Regularly, business owners are caught painting the curb of their sidewalks in front of their store with green, yellow, or red, without having the proper city permits to do so (those illegal markings can be distinguished because they're not stamped with the usual SFPD and the red markings around storefronts/private driveways usually extend far more than they're supposed to).

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday June 24, 2014 @02:48PM (#47308437)

    But that would mean you -- not the winner of the auction -- were breaking the law. And it would be hard to prove. You fed the meter properly, you're having lunch. Big deal. In order to prove a violation you'd have to prove intent, which is seldom easy.

    You're kidding, right? As soon as you use the app you've proven intent. You can't go online and say "I'll sell this space to the highest bidder" and then claim you didn't intend to sell the space to the highest bidder. That's just nuts.

    Having said that, I grant that it could be used in ways that are likely illegal... like holding the spot for the person who won the auction.

    That's the intent of the service. How long do you think such a service would last if all it did was sell "information" about where someone was leaving a parking spot? The buyer would show up and someone who didn't pay would have already taken it. If it is truly a busy area, then there are going to be people who are watching everyone who approaches any parked car like a hawk, and unless your buyer was also doing that (which defeats the reason to buy the information) he's not going to get an honestly vacated space.

    Why would anyone in their right mind bid on "information" that everyone in within fifty feet of the seller can see for himself, and would be there to take advantage of long before any auction could take place, much less the winner driving to the location to accept his prize? The information is worthless within 30 seconds of it appearing; it's only the physical space that makes it valuable.

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