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MonkeyParking FLINGS AWAY San Francisco service

Spot-broker halts operations following threats from City Hall

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Embattled mobile app vendor MonkeyParking has suspended service in San Francisco under threat of legal action from City Hall.

The company said that users in San Francisco would no longer be able to bid on parking spots through the mobile app. The move leaves Rome as the only city in which MonkeyParking currently operates.

MonkeyParking found itself at the center of debate last month when the San Francisco City Attorney's office issued a cease and desist order with the threat of fines for both the company and its users.

According to authorities, MonkeyParking and other parking spot apps violate local laws against selling or renting public street and sidewalk space. The City Attorney's office had threatened to fine users $300 and the company $2,500 for each transaction.

The company said that it would continue to pursue a deal which would allow its service to legally operate in San Francisco.

"Our mission is to get rid of circling the block turning a random parking process into a predictable one, saving people time while also reducing traffic congestion and generated pollution," the firm said in a statement announcing the shutdown.

"We want to achieve our mission within the intent and letter of the law and in full cooperation with the local authorities."

MonkeyParking had briefly objected to the order, claiming that its app dealt in information, rather than actual space. Developers argued that users were not selling off their parking spots, but rather the details on when they would be leaving a space. Thus, they claimed, attempts to stifle the app would be a First Amendment violation.

The City Attorney's office didn't buy that claim, saying "it's like a prostitute saying she's not selling sex – she's only selling information about her willingness to have sex with you."

Clearly, MonkeyParking will face an uphill battle in convincing officials to allow it to operate. ®

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