All three illegal parking apps on hiatus in S.F. as Herrera's Cease-and-Desist deadline passes
City Attorney, grateful that Monkey Parking, ParkModo and Sweetch are honoring request, to remain vigilant against those who would hold 'public parking hostage'
SAN FRANCISCO (July 11, 2014) -- Following today's close-of-business deadline that City Attorney Dennis Herrera imposed on mobile app companies seeking to facilitate sales or auctions of the city's on-street public parking spaces, all three businesses involved in the practice have confirmed in writing that their apps are currently on hiatus in San Francisco.
In response, Herrera offered the following statement:
"I'm grateful that these parking apps have at least temporarily honored my request to halt business practices that clearly violate San Francisco's Police Code. At the same time, we're going to remain vigilant against those who would try to hold on-street public parking hostage for their own private profit. We intend to continue communicating with these businesses to make sure we're all on the same page about what local law requires. I wish them well as they reassess their business models, and I hope they can come up with some innovative and legal ways to serve their customers' transportation needs."
Herrera issued the first cease-and-desist demand to Monkey Parking on June 23, noting that the service violated state and local law, put drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and risked steep civil penalties of up to $2,500 per transaction for the company. The announcement named two other startups whose businesses similarly violated the law with mobile app-enabled schemes intended to illegally monetize San Francisco's public parking spaces: ParkModo and Sweetch. At the end of the day on Friday, the status of the companies and their responses was as follows:
- In a letter received by the San Francisco City Attorney's Office today, the attorney for Sweetch informed Herrera that the company "has decided to temporarily place the Sweetch SF application on hold," adding that "Sweetch will voluntarily remove the Sweetch SF app from the Apple App Store." Herrera had refrained from issuing a cease-and-desist demand to Sweetch in light of the company's efforts to reassess its business model and meet with city lawyers. In the end, the company opted to "postpone any further meetings indefinitely until Sweetch solidifies its new business plan."
- Yesterday, MonkeyParking announced in a blog post that its service was "temporary [sic] disabled in the San Francisco area." The company went on to confirm that "we are currently reviewing our service to clarify our value proposition and avoid any future misunderstandings" in light of a cease-and-desist demand Herrera sent the company on June 23.
- ParkModo on June 26 informed Herrera it "will not provide anyone in The City of San Francisco the ability to offer their personal departure information, nor purchase personal parking departure information," as a result of Herrera's June 23 cease-and-desist demand. The company maintains that users outside of San Francisco will still be able to use the service in other locations.
Herrera's cease-and-desist demands to Monkey Parking and ParkModo included a request to the legal department of Apple Inc., which was copied on the letters, asking that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant immediately remove the mobile applications from its App Store for violating several of the company's own guidelines. Apple App Store Review Guidelines provide that "Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users" and that "Apps whose use may result in physical harm may be rejected." Apple did not respond directly to the City Attorney's Office.
Copies of correspondence with the parking app companies, together with additional information about the San Francisco City Attorney's Office, are available at: http://www.sfcityattorney.org/.
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