Monkeyparking and other parking apps received a cease-and-desist order from San Francisco this week, but one start-up may be exempt.
ParkatmyHouse, an app that lets motorists book driveway spaces and other private parking spaces, claims that allowing property owners to list their spaces is a legal solution to the city's parking wars.
The London-based company says that their app, which helps drivers find and book spaces on privately owned spaces, was even welcomed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera in his June 23 statement.
Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office, says if they want to take that as an endorsement, that's fine. "Providing they're obeying all the other laws, there's nothing in the police code that would not allow a property owner to rent out their own private driveway or private parking garage space," Dorsey said.
Here's the back story: Anthony Eskinazi, (no relation to SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi) founded the company in 2006 after struggling to park before a Giants game here in San Francisco. He kept passing by driveways and thought to himself: if only those were for sale.
That baseball game would stick in his mind for many years to come. Now, eight years later, Giants fans can pay as little as $15 for game-day parking by using the site, as compared to a whopping $67 for a parking space in a commercial garage.
The company says it also helps reduce the amount of time spent circling the streets looking for a parking space, which can be a painful process, as anyone who's visited the city for an hour or less already knows
The SFMTA stated that drivers in the northeast Mission area spend 27 minutes on average circling the block for a space during peak hours, with search times running as long as 50 minutes in some cases.
One San Francisco property owner has been renting out his driveway on ParkatmyHouse for a year-and-a-half and has made more than $300 already. Christopher Henderson, who lives within walking distance from San Francisco State University says he and wife use the money they make to go out to nice dinners.
"We have one guy who parks on our driveway just to wash his car since he doesn't have a place to [do] that where he lives in the Mission Bay area," said Henderson, a retired Army infantry officer. "It's a win-win for both of us."
While MonkeyParking -- which allows drivers to bid on public parking spaces, a practice deemed illegal by San Francisco's city attorney this week -- may have been the latest company to try to monetize public on-street parking spaces, it's certainly not the first -- and it won't be the last, says City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
In 2006, SpotScout tried to implement the same auction-style bidding for on-street parking but couldn't overcome the legal roadblocks. Herrera also plans to ask ParkModo and Sweetch to cease their operations which also allow drivers to profit from public spaces.
In England, ParkatmyHouse has been working with local governments in London by helping the city rent out public parking spots in places such as car parks, which are better known in America as parking lots.
The company says it hopes to roll out partnership models -- based on its program in London -- with a number of U.S. cities, including San Francisco, later this year.
Paul Rose, a spokesman for the SFMTA, says that he doesn't know enough about this parking app, and would have to look into it more before suggesting a city partnership would work here.
So for now the company's founder says they'd be happy just to have the city help promote their service. "It's a real pain to find parking," said Eskinazi, "And so by working with local government it's helping us promote the opportunity to residents by [...] how they can rent out their driveway in an area where there isn't enough parking."