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The Almighty Buck Transportation Technology

In SF: an App For Auctioning Off Your Public Parking Spot 427

Posted by timothy
from the markets-in-everything dept.
trbdavies (979982) writes 'Only in San Francisco' used to refer to issues like whether public nudity should be restricted to certain hours of the day. Now I hear it most often in connection with the interplay between the city and tech companies. SF Weekly reports on one such development: 'Anyone who's visited San Francisco for 35 minutes knows that easy parking is a rare find. Enter Paolo Dobrowolny, an Italian tech bro who decided San Francisco was the perfect spot to test out his new experiment. Here's how it works: You find a parking spot, revel a little, let Monkey Parking know where you're located, and watch the bidding begin. Finally, give your spot to the wealthiest victim willing to pay the highest price for your spot. Drive away that much richer.'" Update: 05/08 15:52 GMT by T : I suspect that Dobrowolny's a tech pro, rather than bro, or at least that's what I suspect the Weekly meant to say.
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In SF: an App For Auctioning Off Your Public Parking Spot

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  • "Tech bro"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Scareduck (177470) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:49AM (#46949187) Homepage Journal

    "Tech bro"?

    Go home, Slashdot, you're drunk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:53AM (#46949231)

    You pay your parking fee to park there.
    You are not entitled to resell that right. Only the townhall can.
    And finally, I just need to locat the bidder, go there with my car first and wait for the parking fee(s) to expire.
    As soon as the car moves away, I get the spot. All legal!
    Ah!

    • Also, people may go violent on this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yep. violence may go along with this case... I was actually injured in a parking dispute, but it was the incident that arrested a team of fake police officers (or at least police in the wrong area, defying the commands of their chief) and the world is better for it.

        An incorrect "lot full" sign was posted at an entry ramp by these scam artists, and they then directed people to park at a restaurant that too few people wanted to eat at to be profitable. Then, a fake higher-than-the-real value ticket was issued

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Also, people may go violent on this.

        People don't get violent over ticket scalpers, so why would they do so over parking scalpers either? Store owners, on the other hand, might.

        Anyway, this really shouldn't come as surprise - monpolizing a public resource and then extracting rent is, after all, a more efficient way of making profits than actually doing something useful. As technology enables them, the parasites will spread to new niches. This, then, leads to two questions: can the local economy defend itsel

    • by HideyoshiJP (1392619) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:39AM (#46949761)
      I would call you a luddite for not bidding with the app, but since you used the app to legally circumvent the bid process, you're hip and cool.
    • Not legally questionable at all - you are being paid to vacate a spot, not resell anything you have purchased from the city.

      Not sure what you mean by "locating the bidder" - I assume you mean "locate the spot occupier who is auctioning the spot vacancy", which is far from easy as their location would be hidden behind the apps paywall (with the minimum information you would have up front being the general area the spot is located in, so you aren't bidding on something 10 miles away from where you want to visit), so you would have to win the auction, pay up and only then get the parking spots actual exact location.

      Besides, waiting on a public highway for anywhere up to an hour for a parking spot to be vacated isn't exactly what I would call "winning" in your scenario...
       

    • by fizzup (788545) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:07AM (#46950089)

      Ultimately, this is an example of government not charging a high enough fee for use of a common public resource. There are lots of examples of this. Usually governments do this in order to provide the resource equally to all people, which is a noble and understandable goal. The downside risk is a tragedy of the commons, where common resources are used to depletion because there is no signal to the users that they are causing harm by depleting it.

      In our economic system, we use price as a scarcity signal for buyers and sellers. Price is a ham-fisted signal that is only marginally better than rationing but without using it at all, or by using it poorly, government has opened the door for a private company to create a market in something valuable - parking turnover. Should this application take off (a big "if") government's only practical response is to raise the price of parking to the point that turnover is so high that you can usually find a parking spot quickly without paying somebody to leave. That will be a really high price which will obliterate the goal of providing access to parking for people regardless of their economic situation.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        You are jumping to a lot of conclusions about what this is an example of, and what problems government has created, before getting to the "big if" of whether this system takes off. I don't think it will, and in that case, the conclusion must be the opposite - that government is pricing parking near-enough correctly after all. Of course in that case nobody will be paying attention to the project any more or writing slashdot stories on it.
      • by coinreturn (617535) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:46AM (#46950561)

        Ultimately, this is an example of government not charging a high enough fee for use of a common public resource.

        Or perhaps they're just not providing enough fucking parking places.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Nope. This is a person taking a common public resource and only making it available for the wealthy. Charging only waht the wealth would pay would severely impact people who make less money.

        Te government has a responsibility to all people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:56AM (#46949271)

    I love this idea!

    It helps to connect the rich cunt demographic with the thieving cunt demographic.

    Leaving less cuntiness in the world for non-cunts.

  • This will end (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:56AM (#46949273) Homepage Journal

    badly.

    Hording a public thing you do not own and then scalping it won't go well, and will be banned by the courts.

    And when you get in your car to leave, and I stop to get the spot, I sure as hell will not move just because you want to sell something you do not own to someone else. So there is a logistic issue.

    • Assuming they're paying for parking and not staying longer than they're allowed to, how is it "hoarding"?

      And how is it "scalping"? They're merely offering to delay leaving their spot if someone pays them to do so. Basically they're selling their time.

      Ultimately I think the app would need to give the general location to everyone, but the exact spot should only go to the individual selected by the person leaving the spot.

      • Nonsense! Let's analyze:

        Assuming they're paying for parking and not staying longer than they're allowed to, how is it "hoarding"?

        You're right there... hoarding is the process of taking too many. But that doesn't match the article. The story here is that they're taking the last one, then offering to move on for money... but that's also known as "scalping".

        And how is it "scalping"? They're merely offering to delay leaving their spot if someone pays them to do so. Basically they're selling their time.

        You got that backwards... they're not delay leaving, they're threatening to keep there to the point it causes a time-sensitive worker a problem like job loss.

        Ultimately I think the app would need to give the general location to everyone, but the exact spot should only go to the individual selected by the person leaving the spot.

        No, the app has to identify where the spot is so people can determine how valuable it is... but wait,

        • I think the delay is more likely. Nobody is going to sell a spot they need. They'll sell it to someone else, and then have to stay around until the buyer arrives. You can't sell it to someone and then just leave, allowing some third party to take the spot you sold.

          And that's the crux of the problem -- it's public parking, so you have no right to keep someone from parking in it. It's not yours, so you can't sell it. Selling that which one does not own is fraud.

          • by zieroh (307208)

            it's public parking, so you have no right to keep someone from parking in it.

            Conversely, nobody has a right to take it from you, either. You have as much right to sit there -- within any relevant time limits -- as anyone else. Delaying your exit for a winning bidder may not be the most civic-minded action you can take, but it's certainly not illegal.

          • You aren't selling the space. You are selling information that the spot will be available at a certain time.

            Would is also be illegal to sell a map showing what times streets generally have full parking? There's no difference.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              Wrong, because when your parking space is vacated is under your direct control. So this app creates a new monetary incentive to waste parking space, which is why (if it were ever to take off, which I highly doubt) it should not be allowed.
            • You would be selling access to the space, which is not yours to sell. You can't loiter (which is a law in most cities on its own) specifically to deny access to a public resource to the public.

      • And how is it "scalping"? They're merely offering to delay leaving their spot if someone pays them to do so. Basically they're selling their time.

        ... and the first time someone leaves a spot as soon as the check clears, and someone who didn't pay swipes it, the fraud lawsuits will ensure that this "service" ceases to exist.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Just use the app, find the spot, then park behind them until they move and refuse any sort of payment, preventing anyone else from having a shot at the parking spot.

      That'll pretty much end the problem fairly quickly.

      • Just use the app, find the spot, then park behind them

        I think here we have the very definition of "unclear on the concept".

        If there ever WAS parking behind them, they wouldn't be able to sell the spot now would they?

        That spot behind them was claimed last week...

      • That was kind of the thought I had... Someone gets in the car and posts up the spot meanwhile they are spotted by someone else who stops behind them seeing them get into the car and waits for them to move... when the person they auctioned it off to get's there the other car already has it blocked in it will likely start causing fights.

    • Worked out for water and land. But I guess it's different when you're a corporation.

    • Actually, a form of this has been going on in San Diego for some time, but with golf tee times. Torrey Pines is a public golf course that the PUBLIC gets to use. Each and every damn morning, two or three groups (with a dozen or so low-income/shelter 'contractors') phone in and grab ALL of the daily tee times. These folks then turn around and sell them for 3x to 5x the normal public price.

      The city can't do a damn thing about them, since each reservation is under a different name......

      • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash.p10link@net> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:15AM (#46949495) Homepage

        The city can't do a damn thing about them, since each reservation is under a different name......

        There must be more to it than that. Either there is some restriction in the local laws preventing them implementing measures against this or they can't be bothered and are claiming they can't to shift the blame to someone else.

        One obvious measure to make this much harder for example would be to require users bring ID that matches the name under which the booking was made preventing post-hoc sales of bookings.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:02AM (#46949329) Homepage
    I for one wholly endorse this newfound libertarian dystopia and have devised a competitive service called turd auction. Heres how it works: i leave a bathroom stall at a public stadium or park, and users logged into my site then meet up and fight eachother to the death in mortal combat to determine who can then prostitute their children to raise enough money for the half roll of shit tickets left in the stall.
  • This ends in destruction of property.

    Either the sellers' or the buyers cars will suffer from spontaneous combustion. And thus will this idea die.

    And when they go to the police and say "My car was burned!" the police will reply with something close to a "hmmm. Ok. Did you see who did it? No? Well, tough luck."

  • by crow (16139) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:20AM (#46949569) Homepage Journal

    I thought San Francisco already had dynamic parking prices to try to use market forces to keep parking available. They have devices to monitor parking utilization. The goal is to typically have one on-street parking spot open per block; somewhere around 85% utilization. If the block is consistently above that, the price increases. If it's below, the price lowers. They adjust the prices by $.25 every month.

    From the talk on this that I saw, they generally improved the availability of parking though the dynamic pricing. Employees who park every day would find the cheaper blocks to park on, leaving the busier blocks open for customers.

    Maybe the program isn't working as well as they claimed. Maybe the program isn't covering enough of the city, and the approach in the article is of more use in other parts.

    • by crow (16139)

      I looked up the talk in question, and here's the video:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      If you're really interested in urban planning and parking regulations, watch the whole thing, but otherwise the link should go right to where he talks about San Francisco's parking program.

    • by Copid (137416)
      My understanding is that it's working pretty well. Crusing for parking spaces appears to have dropped significantly, and that's a major goal of these systems. Yeah, it's inconvenient to be unable to find parking, but the real mess happens in a busy, congested city when a large number of drivers are on the road simply because they're driving in circles lookin for parking spaces. That's a serious contributor to traffic congestion, especially when they stop and wait whenever it looks like a spot might open
  • Reminds me of Boston (Score:5, Informative)

    by erp_consultant (2614861) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:36AM (#46949733)

    I lived in Boston for a while and the parking is just as bad there as it is in SF. For those of you that have not visited the fine city of Boston, allow me to enlighten you. Boston is an historical city and, as such, has numerous historical buildings. Buildings that cannot be knocked down in order to widen roads. The road that Paul Revere travelled on is just as wide now as it was then.

    Lots of one way streets and lots of one hour parking. The cops there would ride around with little bits of chalk. The first time through they would put a chalk mark on the tires of the cars in the one hour parking zone. An hour later they return and any car there with chalk on the tire gets a ticket. So of course it became a game of cat and mouse - cop puts chalk, car owner rubs it off.

    When it snows it's worse because the snow plows can't get through so you would have to park on alternate sides of the street depending on the day of the week. If you're caught on the wrong side when the snow plows come through they just tow your car.

    The moral of the story is that if you live in Boston, or SF for that matter, take public transportation whenever you can. Driving and parking in either of those cities is a pain in the ass and is to be avoided at all costs.

    One of the reasons I left Boston was the traffic and parking. I got sick of it.

    Naturally, this app is going to get banned. You don't own the land you are parking your car on. The owner of the parking lot sets the price, not the person renting the spot.

    • I lived in Boston for a while and the parking is just as bad there as it is in SF. For those of you that have not visited the fine city of Boston, allow me to enlighten you. Boston is an historical city and, as such, has numerous historical buildings. Buildings that cannot be knocked down in order to widen roads. The road that Paul Revere travelled on is just as wide now as it was then.

      Though it's not applicable everywhere, I've always loved the compromise they came up with for Old Salem [wikipedia.org]. When the area beg

      • Off street parking - now there's a quaint notion. I remember hearing real estate agents gush about off street parking as if it were some huge benefit. Turns out that it was a huge benefit. Where I live now, everyone has off street parking. And on street parking. Heck, you just park wherever the heck you want to. No lines, no waiting.

        There are a few things I miss about Boston (not many but a few) but parking is definitely not one of them.

  • I think parking spot [urbandictionary.com] isn't what you think it is. After all it is SF we're talking about here.

  • I'm sure the city and private owners will have no trouble with you auctioning off property that isn't yours. The state and IRS will also not have any problem with you collecting this extra income under the table.

  • If the App proves popular, I'm sure the citizens would ask for the city to put a stop to this practice. The city will respond by making a new penalty for squatting on public spaces for profit and eventually the city's traffic department will start using the App to track down parking places up for auction and issuing parking fines.

  • I live in a city where we pay for parking at a meter and get a receipt with the expiration time. Often times, if one is completed with their business and there's a good chunk of time left on the receipt, they will affix it to the meter so that the next person doesn't have to pay. I much prefer my city to San Francisco when it comes to parking etiquette.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @01:55PM (#46952123) Homepage

    SF used to have homeless people selling parking spaces. You'd see guys standing in empty parking spaces, waving you in, and expecting to be paid. That's been stopped; it's extortion.

    So is this.

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