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MonkeyParking App to Debut in Southern California

After operations were halted in San Francisco, the auction parking app heads to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

After a setback in San Francisco, MonkeyParking, the mobile app that lets drivers auction off filled parking spaces, has announced plans for a relaunch next week in Southern California.

MonkeyParking CEO and Co-founder Paolo Dobrowolny said the app, which uses geo-locating data to allow motorists to advertise high demand parking spots to users, will again attempt to release the app, this time between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, Calif. Later the startup plans to expand gradually into the surrounding Los Angeles County.

In this second installment, MonkeyParking improved the app with additional features to alleviate concerns of possible parking squatters, those who could hold spots ransom for greater bids; and for potential profiteers, who’d use the service to create illegitimate parking businesses.

"We've been working to develop and release features which could avoid any possible abuse of the service," Dobrowolny said. "We know that it is a very delicate and complicated environment because it takes place in people’s everyday lives.” 

To prevent misuse, the new MonkeyParking app includes an ability to identify misbehaving users -- who might download the app on multiple phones for added cash -- and to limit app transactions (selling spots) to two times per day. It is hoped that these changes will eliminate attempts to game the system.

While no formal conversations have been held with officials in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, Dobrowolny said he intends to have them soon to answer questions.

In June, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a cease-and-desist order to MonkeyParking and two other parking apps based on suspicions the apps would incite potential illegal business schemes and stir parking conflicts on city property. Since the order was given, all parking apps have halted operations in San Francisco. After the rough reception, Dobrowolny said research and adjustments were needed before a next try. To plot the next course, developers turned to crowdsourcing for both feedback on possible improvements and the next launch location — Los Angeles.

"They’re guiding us to be there not as strangers, but as someone who's going to be part of the community,” Dobrowolny said of the feedback received.

As a marketing plan, MonkeyParking intends to reward first-time users with free parking credits to send the app off as it gears up for the Labor Day weekend.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.