Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin. Photo by John Schreiber.

A Los Angeles City Council panel on Wednesday backed a proposed ban on smart phone applications, such as MonkeyParking, that allow users to auction off parking spots.

The ban is being pushed by Councilman Mike Bonin, who said last month the practice of selling parking spaces amounts to extortion and instructed city attorneys to write an ordinance that would prohibit such phone-based services.

Bonin, who chairs the Transportation Committee, earned the panel’s support to bring the draft ordinance to the full City Council for a vote.

Bonin said the proposed ban isn’t directed at people who reserve spots for friends and family, but rather is aimed at preventing app users from “pimping out a parking spot in the city of L.A. — taking something which is a public good, something that all of us own, and privatizing for a period of time.”

The proposed law would prohibit the sale, lease, reservation or 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.

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 subsequently announced plans to launch in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and other parts of Los Angeles County.

Santa Monica has 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.

Bonin noted last month that 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.

City News Service

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