Monkey­Parking defies City’s cease-and-desist

The smartphone app that lets registered users offer their on-street parking spots for a price is not backing down after San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a cease-and-desist order earlier this week.

MonkeyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny said in a statement Thursday that the city attorney’s assumptions of the app were wrong in his letter and that San Francisco law has been “misapplied” to the company:

“The cease and desist letter that we received from the City of San Francisco is premised on a fundamentally wrong assumption: that our application purports to allow users “to buy and sell” parking spaces. That is not the case.”

Dobrowolny went on to say that the cease-and-desist letter is a violation of free speech. He said for example that drivers have the right to tell other drivers when they are leaving a parking space and for them to pay for that information:

“The shared economy trades on information, not on goods or services or other commodities.”

Herrera said the company, based in Italy, Rome, has until July 11 to stop operating in the City or face fines of up to $2,500 per transaction under California’s Unfair Competition Law.

The City’s police code also prohibits individuals and companies from buying, selling or leasing on-street parking spots, said Herrera.

Drivers who continue to use the app could also face fines of up to $300.

The city attorney also told the Cupertino-based Apple, Inc. to remove the app from its App Store.

Dobrowolny told SFBay that the app is still operating though the app is no longer available to download off Apple’s iTunes App Store, where it was free.