MonkeyParking app shuts down under pressure from City Attorney

courtesy MonkeyParkingA screen capture shows the MonkeyParking app.

courtesy MonkeyParkingA screen capture shows the MonkeyParking app.

MonkeyParking, a Rome-based app that enables users to auction off public parking spots to other drivers, announced today that it would suspend service in San Francisco.

The announcement follows a cease-and-desist letter from the San Francisco City Attorney's Office that claimed MonkeyParking was in violation of local law. City police code forbids individuals and companies from buying, selling or renting public parking spaces, and mandates fines of up to $300 for drivers who violate the law.

MonkeyParking had only launched U.S. service in San Francisco.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera gave MonkeyParking a July 11 deadline to shut down the app and simultaneously called on Apple to remove the app from its App Store. It was only available on iPhones.

MonkeyParking co-founder and CEO Paolo Dobrowolny initially told The San Francisco Examiner that he was not worried about the cease-and-desist letter and that his app would continue local operations.

“We’re not going to stop it because we do not think there is something wrong with it, but there is something to be understood and regulated and maybe integrated into the municipality to provide a valuable service,” Dobrowolny said in June.

However, Dobrowolny has since reversed course. In an announcement posted on Tumblr, MonkeyParking stated that the service was “temporarily disabled.”

“We are currently reviewing our service to clarify our value proposition and avoid any future misunderstandings,” the announcement read.

When the cease-and-desist letter was issued to MonkeyParking, Herrera said two other companies, Sweetch and ParkModo, would also receive cease-and-desist notices.

According to its website, ParkModo has launched in New York and Chicago but will no longer operate in San Francisco.

In a June 23 blog post, Sweetch asked the City Attorney's Office not to shut down the company. Its app does not currently appear in the App Store.

In a statement, the City Attorney's Office said that it had given MonkeyParking and ParkModo until close-of-business on July 11 to respond to the cease-and-desist letters. “While we have received responses, and while we have also read conflicting reactions in news accounts, City Attorney Herrera intends to honor the courtesy he extended them by waiting until after the July 11 deadline before commenting or taking further action,” spokesman Matt Dorsey said.Bay Area NewsMonkeyParkingParkModoSweetch

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