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Santa Monica City Council Bans Controversial Parking Business

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By Jonathan Friedman
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October 16, 2014 -- With little discussion and no opposition, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday that effectively prevents the controversial business MonkeyParking from operating in Santa Monica.

Founded last year in Italy, MonkeyParking allows a person to announce he or she is moving a car out of a parking space via a smartphone app. People who see the announcement can bid on the space, and it is awarded to the person who offers the most money, with MonkeyParking taking a commission.

Fresh off being kicked out of San Francisco, company representatives met with municipal officials last month about obtaining a business license and offered to share revenue with the City. Municipal officials did not care for the offer, and drafted a proposed ordinance that bans the selling or leasing of all public spaces, including those for street parking.

City officials are opposed to MonkeyParking and similar operations for several reasons, including that they allow people to sell public land, encourage use of a cellphone while driving and could lead to more parking and traffic issues in an area already filled with them.

Nobody from MonkeyParking spoke at the council meeting to defend the company. The Lookout attempted to contact the company about the council’s decision, but did not receive a response.

The lone speaker under public comment was local peace activist and council candidate Jerry Rubin.

“This sounds ludicrous," Rubin said. "It almost sounds like people trying to scalp a public parking space. I just can’t imagine the public safety threat … and the conflicts that might happen."

Council discussion was also limited. Councilmember Ted Winterer asked a clarifying question and Councilmember Bob Holbrook joked that working with the company could be a good job for him after he retires from the dais in November.

Salvador M. Valles, the City’s business & revenue operations manager, told the council that the City has programs operating and more to come to help residents and visitors with parking issues. Among them is the mobile app “ParkMe,” which provides free, real-time parking availability information at public and private structures.

Also, as part of the the Real-Time Beach Parking project, the City will install 20 signs to direct beach visitors to available parking spaces.

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