Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A City Council panel is expected Wednesday to consider a ban on smart phone applications such as MonkeyParking that allow users to auction off parking spots.

The council’s Transportation Committee will consider an ordinance that would prohibit the sale, lease, reservation or any efforts to facilitate reservations of parking spaces and other public spaces without permission from the city.

Violators of the ban would face fines of at least $250 and potential jail sentences of no more than six months.

City leaders said last month the practice of selling parking spaces amounts to extortion and instructed city attorneys to write the ordinance that would prohibit such phone-based services.

The MonkeyParking app was offered in San Francisco, but was disabled after government officials there sent out a cease and desist letter citing an existing law prohibiting the practice. The app-maker has since announced plans to launch its service in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and other parts of Los Angeles County.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who pushed for the ban, described the practice of squatting on park spots and selling them to the highest bidder as “extortion masquerading as the sharing economy.”

The apps also hurt the city’s own efforts to ease parking headaches in Los Angeles, including installing smart parking meters and managing pricing based on demand, he said.

Santa Monica already adopted a ban on such apps, and Los Angeles is hoping to do the same, city officials said. Beverly Hills and West Hollywood also are considering bans.

City News Service

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