By Ted Rall, January 15, 2015
San Francisco kicked them out of Baghdad by the Bay. Now the
controversial app MonkeyParking may face a similar fate in Santa Monica
and Los Angeles.
Bay Area TV station KRON explains
how the app works: "If you launch the free MonkeyParking app on your
phone and click request a spot, monkey faces pop up. Those are street
parking spots near you that other MonkeyParking app users currently have
their car parked in but they are willing to sell. You can offer them
$5, $10, $15 or $20 for that spot. If they accept, the two of you switch
out your cars in the parking spot."
Not since Los Angeles and
other cities announced that they would install sensors in on-street
parking spaces that would reset the meter to zero when a car pulls out
-- depriving the next motorist of the occasional extra few minutes left,
and transferring the "extra" cash into city coffers -- has a parking
story made my blood boil more.
Some members of L.A. City Council seem to agree with me.
They’ve proposed a ban on MonkeyParking and similar apps.
“‘This is not the sharing economy, it's the
stealing economy,’ Bonin said. ‘They are taking a public asset and
effectively privatizing it.’”
On the other hand, there are certain things
that, if you come up with them, you should decide not to invent. Atomic
bombs. New forms of torture. How to monetize public space for private
far as I can tell, no one has brought this up yet, but I foresee a
public safety threat if this app is allowed to proliferate. I'm a
gentle, nonviolent guy, but even I couldn’t guarantee my reaction if I
pulled up to a parking space where a dude is sitting in an idling car,
clearly ready to leave but refusing to go until his $20 parking app
appointment shows up and swoops in ahead of me.
This is especially true if he tries to explain it.
Me: "Who's this guy? I've been waiting for your space."
driver: "This is part of the new 'sharing economy.' Like Airbnb and
Lyft. This guy either needed the space more than you or is able to
afford it more than you, because he was willing to pay $20 for it. I'm
very sorry you're going to miss your job interview or your pitch meeting
or your audition or your last chance to visit your dying mother. Life
is tough, but $20 is $20.”
But this is a big world and a big city,
and there are lots of people who just had a very bad day. Some of them
are big and some of them have guns. This can't be a good idea.