Fixed, The App That Fixes Your Parking Tickets, Gets Blocked In San Francisco, Oakland & L.A.

by Sarah Perez : techcrunch – excerpt

Fixed, a mobile app that fights parking tickets and other traffic citations on users’ behalf, has had its parking ticket operations blocked in three of its top cities, San Francisco, Oakland and L.A. after the cities increased the measures they were taking to block Fixed from accessing their parking ticket websites.

The company confirms it has suspended parking ticket operations in all three cities as of three weeks ago – a move impacting around 100,000 users. Going forward, Fixed will focus on its Traffic Ticket business instead, we’re told.

The startup has had issues with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for some time.

The agency was never all that receptive to the service, and the way it automated the ticket contesting process for locals. Using its app, Fixed customers could snap a photo of their parking ticket using their phone’s camera, and then Fixed would check against a variety of common errors before writing a customized letter to the city on the user’s behalf. The app also cleverly tapped into Google Street View to check to see if the city had the proper signage in place in the area a ticket was received… (more)

See the next story for a luck at how “fair” SFMTA is in its business dealings. They are very selective when it comes to picking winners and losers in their “sharing” game.

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Smart parking systems market is expected to reach US$ 177.10 million by 2022 globally according to new research report

whatech – excerpt

Smart parking system provides real-time information about the availability of parking space in a particular location, thereby enabling hassle-free vehicle parking while saving on time, cost, and fuel. It consists of low-cost sensors, real-time data collection and analytics, and automated payment systems that allow people to find parking in desired locations and pay for it in advance. the global smart parking systems market is expected to reach a value of US$ 177.10 Mn by 2022. The market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 20.2% during the forecast period from 2015 to 2022… (more)

This is the corporatization and creation of a new brand of industries that will charge us for everything that used to be free. Of course if the self-parking cars become a reality, it could be a short-lived industry. Who cars when it is all a hoax anyway, created scarcity aided by fear.

‘Airbnb for parking’ startup accelerates growth, spreading to seven cities

By Sara Castellanos : bizjournals – excerpt

The UpTake: Boston-based Spot Park, which officially launched its mobile app for iOS and Android last summer, plans to expand to Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle this year… (more)

Stay tuned… they will soon be joined by many more hopeful apps out to steal your parking bucks from the SFMTA.

‘Sharing Economy’ Stopped from Privatizing S.F. Public Parking Spaces

By S.F. City Attorney : capitalandmain – excerpt

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.

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… (more)


This app will guide you to parking — and may get you a ticket, too

SAN FRANCISCO — A parking app that reliably helps find open spots in this congested city was coded on a turn-of-the-century tugboat in Sausalito.

The Terrapin served David LaBua as a coding den for VoicePark, a free app that uses sensors to monitor parking spots. It’s the only one we’ve tested to date that guided us to viable public spots on the busy streets of San Francisco.

“Parking is probably San Francisco’s biggest stressor, and writing about it has been very therapeutic for me,” says LaBua, who holds a master of science in psychology. “I had no intention of getting into the app game, but there was a real need for it.”

LaBua became a self-taught expert on parking in the town known for its hills, restaurants and arbitrary parking laws while living in the notoriously hard-to-park North Beach neighborhood. Such was his obsession that he penned a book about parking titled Finding the Sweet Spot and writes a gripping column where readers ask him for advice on their most pressing parking conundrums.

San Francisco’s parking pinch is a sign of the city’s tech-fueled growing pains. While the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency counts more than 442,000 free and paid parking spots, it’s evident from a map the city produced that most spots are concentrated downtown, not in tech-boom areas like the Mission, where workers often circle pointlessly searching for a spot in a neighborhood that’s part residential, part industrial.

A bunch of parking apps — including the transportation agency’s own app, which gauges availability and pricing — aim to smooth over the bumps in finding a spot. Push came to shove recently when the city attorney cracked down on parking apps based on the concept of drivers selling spots, which means the race for the best parking app is still on.

Right now, the VoicePark app monitors 18,000 parking spots in eight pilot areas with about 11,000 of those spots on the street. Each spot knows its built-in rules (street cleaning times, passenger loading zones) so the app will never guide you to a spot that’s not legal. “Ideally, someday, it’ll drive you to every spot in the city,” LaBua says… (more)

Many SF residents differ as to why the parking in SF is such a problem. Many blame the SFTMA not the techies, for eliminating  parking spaces all over the city.  Their latest scheme is to privatize the streets by selling or leasing parking rights to corporations who “share” their profits with the SFMTA. That is where the “sharing economy” concept comes from. Only apps that “share” their profits with the SFMTA are allowed.
If you feel as many do that privatization and commercialization of our streets is wrong and want to  change that, vote yes on the Restore Balance Transportation Initiative in November. Passage of this ballot will send a strong message to city authorities that the citizens disagree with the SFMTA program of eliminating public parking from pubic streeets and are demanding a halt to these practices.

JerkTech Startups Shut Down Or Pivot. Good Riddance.

: techcrunch – excerpt

ReservationHop and MonkeyParking, the two startups last week called emblems of exploitative #JerkTech, have both changed their ways. ReservationHop announced Tuesday a “soft pivot” away from its site that stole and resold dinner reservations without compensating restaurant owners. Meanwhile, MonkeyParking has complied with its cease-and-desist order from San Francisco by temporarily shutting down its service that took a fee for letting drivers auction off public parking spots.

Sorry, I’m not sorry this happened. Cue the world’s tiniest violin. Check out my piece “Stop The JerkTech” to see what all the hubbub was about.

Yes, there should be a way to capture the value of people willing to pay for prime reservations at hot eateries. And yes, we need to find a way to improve street parking to reduce traffic and pollution.

But not like this… (more)


by Josh Constine : techcrunch – excerpt

“Go disr*pt yourself” is what I have to say to founders of startups like ReservationHop and Parking Monkey.

They’re emblematic of a compassionless new wave of self-serving startups that exploit small businesses and public infrastructure to make a buck and aid the wealthy. Let’s call these parasites #JerkTech. It’s one thing to outcompete a big, stagnant company with new technology. It’s another to screw over the little guys just because you can sell what’s usually free…

San Francisco’s tech scene already has some serious problems. Between techies belittling the homeless and women, being sexist and discriminatory in the work place, or comparing criticism of the 1% to Crystalnacht before bragging “I could buy a six-pack of Rolexes”, the rest of the country and world is building up a decent argument for hating us.

I don’t want to go all Uncle Ben on you…

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MonkeyParking founder to arrive in San Francisco — and take on city hall

By Richard Byrne Reilly : venturebeat – excerpt

MonkeyParking founder Paolo Dobrowolny will soon board a flight from Rome to San Francisco to take on city hall.

When he lands at San Francisco International Airport, Dobrowolny, the baby-faced cofounder of the app whose controversy has engulfed gentrification-sensitive San Francisco, will begin to launch his counterattack against the ambitious city attorney Dennis Herrera, who deemed MonkeyParking illegal and threatened to sue if the firm doesn’t remove the iOS app from the App Store by July 20.

Dobrowolny has lawyered up and vows to fight… (more)

For neighborly harmony, curb the parking app

By Caille Millner : sfgate – excerpt

All of this is just to say I have a deep understanding of the difficulties of street parking in San Francisco, particularly in neighborhoods where it can make or break your daily life.

Yet I have deep feelings of conflict about the new “sharing economy” apps being proposed by startups like Sweetch that would charge users for the privilege of being alerted to the existence of an open parking spot…

Did anyone consider the, um, antisocial aspects of an app like this? If someone gets alerted to a parking spot just as an innocent driver spots it and pulls in, then what? Will there be a refund or a fight?

There’s the argument that this is yet another attempt to make private profits off of public space.

Then there’s a less obvious but more important reason. By asking people to pay money for something that used to be free, yet scarce – an empty street parking spot – Sweetch is building yet another inequity into a city that’s currently exploding with inequalities of all kinds… (more)

Thank you for voicing a number of facts and feelings most of us share about the “sharing economy.” It is a misnomer to call it sharing. When money is involved in a transaction it is a commercial transaction. Sharing involves no exchange in funds. We agree with you that the streets are public property and object to the privatization an commercialization of public properties.

To this end a broad spectrum of San Franciscans who use our streets and sidewalks has joined to write a new Declaration of Policy which we hope to get on the November ballot so the voters can voice their opinions on the current anti-parking programs that are eliminating parking and causing traffic congestion, while claiming to solve our problems.

If you feel we need a new approach to parking and traffic management, we suggest you support our efforts to Restore Transportation Balance. By signing the petition to get this on the ballot you will be speaking out against the forces that are eliminating parking and causing the problems. We agree with you that the streets are public property and object to the privatization and commercialization of such.

The Future of SFpark

By David LaBua : 7×7 – excerpt

In 2011, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency established the SFpark pilot, using new technology and policies to improve parking in San Francisco. The pilot aimed to reduce traffic by helping drivers find parking spaces more quickly. More parking availability makes streets less congested and safer. Improved parking meters that accept credit and debit cards and phone payment reduce frustration and parking citations.
As the pilot phase comes to a close in 2014, the project will continue to operate and any major changes will be considered after evaluation is completed in Spring 2014. In the meantime, there will be some changes to the SFpark mobile app. and the data feed that some other private parking mobile apps also use.
As of January 1st, 2014, the parking sensors in the street will be turned off and their data feed will no longer be available as parking sensor batteries have reached the end of their useful lives. This means that the real-time information on parking space occupancy will not be available for mobile apps and similar uses(more)

How much has this experiment costs the taxpayers and what is the net revenue the SFTMA generated from this program? What will become of all those parking apps that are dependent on this system?

Looks as if the taxpayer spent $44 million dollars on the pilot program that installed 6000 revenue generating smart parking meters with a two year lifespan, (since SFMTA claims they have to replace all the meters).
Muni wants SF citizens to approve three billion dollars in new fees, fines and sales tax in November. How much of this is planned for replacement smart meters and other none Muni tech gadgets and planning for future projects, and how much will actually improve rider service?
Voters may decide to end the experiment in self-governing granted to the SFMTA instead of feeding the insatiable giant. Let your supervisors know how you feel. Demand a better system.

Why Some Parking Apps Can Get You in Trouble

By David LaBua : 7×7 – excerpt

A little more than 2 years ago, San Francisco demonstrated its pioneering spirit when it launched its innovative parking system, SFPark. Using a web of infrared sensors the SFPark mobile app shows a map with the locations of the blocks that have available parking spots.
I absolutely loved the idea, but was concerned that there would now be 100,000 people using the SFPark app, searching for a parking spot and looking down at their phones and deciphering the map while doing so. I approached San Francisco officials and asked if I could use the data from this amazing system and create an app that guided the driver by voice to available parking spots. With a non-territorial attitude, they invited me to knock my socks off. And four months later, the Beta version of VoicePark was launched… (more)