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In Defense of MonkeyParking

Written By Jeff Siegel

Posted July 15, 2014

monkeySan Francisco is a beautiful city.

The weather is fantastic, the views are stunning, and the food is out of this world. But San Francisco is one city I could never call home.

Between the ridiculously high cost of living, the unbearable traffic, and the thick layers of bureaucratic fluffing that seem to permeate every orifice of the city, I just don’t think it’s for me.

In fact, if I did live there, I’d probably be incredibly annoyed by the recent decision to shut down a very interesting company that offered, what seems to me, a very valuable service to residents.

Monkey Parking

The company is called MonkeyParking, and it developed an app that matches drivers seeking parking spots with those who are willing to give theirs up — for a price.

The city of San Francisco claims the company is auctioning off parking spaces, which is illegal. But the company claims it’s not auctioning parking spaces but instead enabling the transfer of information about the availability of parking spaces.

Of course, this is really a battle of semantics. But even if the city’s claims are sound, the idea that folks can’t give up their parking spots to other people for compensation is ridiculous.

Yes, the city owns the property, but the driver searched out and occupied the spot — which, as the city states, is public property. Taxpayers have the right to use those spots. So why don’t they have the right to relinquish those spots to others who need them more?

Would it be any different if I gave up a parking spot to a friend in return for a cup of coffee?

The bottom line is that the government doesn’t like competition, and it doesn’t like taxpayers getting a couple of bucks back without its consent.

Parking Squatters

Now, it’s not just the city government that has a problem with MonkeyParking, either. Apparently there are plenty of residents who worry about “parking squatters” — folks who would essentially save their parking spots only for MonkeyParking users.

But how would that be any different than someone saving a parking spot for friends, family, or for themselves? Hell, I’ve seen folks park their cars in a great spots and just leave them there for months at a time because they don’t want to give them up.

The way I see it, if you find it and secure it, you can leave your car there as long as you want. Sure, it may piss some people off, but I think I get more pissed off when I have to drive around in circles for 45 minutes trying to find a parking spot. I’d be happy to pay a couple of bucks for a good spot. My time is worth that much.

And let’s be honest: how much money is someone really going to make by “squatting” on a parking spot, anyway?

In any event, I don’t know what’s going to happen with MonkeyParking, but I do know that as more of these sharing services take hold, local governments are going to be more and more pressed to find a way to get their cut. And rest assured, they will.

In the meantime, I hope sharing services like MonkeyParking, Uber, and Airbnb flourish. They’re providing services for people who are willing to provide compensation for those services. This is the basis of a free market system, and folks who capitalize on this should be applauded, not persecuted.