CITYWIDE – A street parking app may run out of gas before it even has a chance to put its turn signal on.

City Council will consider banning the sale of public parking spaces in the city, tonight.

In August, after some controversy in San Francisco, MonkeyParking announced it would soon be available in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. The app allows users to sell their parking spaces to the highest bidder.

Let’s say you found a great spot near the beach and when it comes time to leave, all the spots around you are filled up. MonkeyParking bets that you can do better than to give that spot away for free. They allow you to sell it – after taking a cut, of course.

MonkeyParking applied for a business license in September and offered to share some of its profits with City Hall.

Santa Monica officials are saying, “No thanks.”

“This ordinance would not reflect a rejection of innovation,” they say of their recommendation to council, “but rather would address potential circulation and safety issues created by such a service when users reserve on-street parking spaces and engage in online bidding wars while driving, which ultimately can increase parking costs for drivers and negatively impact safety and circulation.”

If MonkeyParking were to succeed, they say, it would bring in competitors. If drivers use the app while driving, it would be dangerous, they say. It would interfere with council’s authority to set the rates of the 5,862 on-street metered parking spaces in the city.

“As these drivers seek out an on-street parking space, they may be denied access to an otherwise available space because the person occupying it is reserving it for a driver who can afford to pay a premium to have it reserved until they arrive,” City Hall’s report says. “Reserving the parking space could also cause the person occupying the space to stay longer than the posted time limit allows. During busy times, this activity could cause motorists to become confrontational.”

City officials point out that they already support an app, ParkMe, which gives users free, real-time information about parking availability at public and private structures. It also has general information about the availability of metered parking on different streets.

City Hall is adding 20 signs in the city that let drivers know how many spots are available in the beach parking lots.

“These projects will help motorists find available parking more expeditiously and reduce the congestion and pollution effects associated with cruising for available parking spaces,” the report says.

Ultimately, the ordinance would ban the sale of “open space” not just parking, and therefore cover potential future issues involving public land.

“The proposed ordinance provides the City with the tools necessary to address any attempt to cordon off any public space (including but not limited to parking spaces) for private sale or rental without City authorization,” the report says. “Thus, the protection contained the ordinance extends to all public assets including the beach, parks, street medians, parking structures/lots, and other public facilities, in order to ensure fair and equitable access to the entire public.”

dave@www.smdp.com

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