A new app called "MonkeyParking" being tested in San Francisco has made the rounds in localmedia this week for its bizarre driver-to-driver payment system. Here's how it works: A driver leaves her car in a valuable parking spot and tells other app-using drivers that she is willing to move it for a price of up to $20.
Whether the app will have any effect or even pass muster with the law is almost beside the point. "MonkeyParking" is a great illustration of how free or underpriced curb parking in SF is completely absurd. If the city isn't willing to put a rational price on a limited resource in high demand, profiteering drivers can and will step in to take advantage. Talk about the high cost of free parking.
It's no wonder drivers are willing to create their own ad hoc market to allocate the limited supply of curb parking. As Streetsblog has written extensively, underpriced parking is bad for everyone, including the drivers who end up wasting time and fuel circling around for a spot because none are available.
"MonkeyParking" isn't a fix for the problem -- it's a way for people of means to try and circumvent it or cash in on it. One man predicted to KCBS, "You'll end up with space squatters." Unlike a city program like SFpark, "MonkeyParking" doesn't create systemic change because it doesn't affect a large enough chunk of the parking supply. And none of the revenue goes to the city to improve transportation options.
MonkeyParking's legality is dubious. Clearly, you can't reserve the legal right to a parking spot from the previous occupant, but can you fork over $20 nonetheless? A spokesperson for the City Attorney told SFGate it's being looked into. "So far, all we’ve determined for sure is that it’s extremely weird."
Aaron was the editor of Streetsblog San Francisco from January 2012 until October 2015. He joined Streetsblog in 2010 after studying rhetoric and political communication at SF State University and spending a semester in Denmark.
With fatal crashes on Valencia in San Francisco, Lakeshore and International in Oakland (five in the past week on various streets Oakland), it seems like time to highlight some good news in the midst of the despair