By Liz Enbysk.
First came the ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that had taxi companies parading in front of city councils and transit regulators trying to put a stop to the competition. Cities around the world continue to work the issue.
Now here’s another app flap from San Francisco, where a company called Monkey Parking is rejecting an order from City Attorney Dennis Herrera to quit its operations.
The controversial app works like this: After someone is done with a public parking spot in San Francisco (where parking spaces can be very tough to find) they use the app to share that information – and wait in the spot for someone to take it over, for which they receive a cash reward.
Herrera says the city’s police code prevents city streets from being sold or leased and also believes the app encourages drivers to engage in bidding wars for a space while behind the wheel.
Monkey Parking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny, who launched the app in Rome prior to San Francisco, argues the reward is for the information, not the parking space.
“The shared economy trades on information, not on goods or services or other commodities,” Dobrowolny said in a post on his company’s website. “We are very surprised that the city of San Francisco, which prides itself of being a liberal and tolerating city, does not see that their cease and desist letter is an open violation of free speech, contrary to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (I have the right to tell people if I am about to leave a parking spot and they have the right to pay me for such information).”
So what’s next for sharing?
A report in The Guardian highlights several more sharing concepts being introduced in various locales. Here are three that focus on sharing parking spots and cars:
- Parkatmyhouse: With this app, drivers can search and book parking from half an hour to over a year. They can filter by date, distance and by type (driveway, garage, car park). Backed by BMW, the app reportedly allows drivers to book parking at over 20,000 locations in the UK. But that didn’t happen without some political upheaval over zoning regulations, as the Daily Mail points out.
- RelayRides: With this U.S.-based sharing service, car owners can rent out their under-utilized vehicles. People needing a car enter their travel dates and search the city or airport where they need wheels. The company says it pre-screens all drivers and provides $1 million insurance on every rental. Late last month the San Francisco-based company announced a $25 million funding round; GoogleVentures is one of its investors.
- Bla Bla Car: Drivers looking for help with gas money on long trips can use this UK-based ride-sharing service to find someone to fill an empty seat. Drivers create a profile on the site using real identities and people needing a ride enter departure and arrival towns and travel date, then choose a driver going their way after scanning user ratings. Riders pay a set fee directly to the driver, which The Guardian says is usually 50% to 90% cheaper than a train.
What’s your view of the sharing economy? Is it moving too fast? Too slow?
Originally posted at Smart Cities.