LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: The MonkeyParking app could turn us into monsters

Originally published at The Los Angeles Times:

Monkey Parking



San Francisco kicked them out of Baghdad by the Bay. Now the controversial app MonkeyParking may face a similar fate in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.
Got a good parking space? You could sell it with the MonkeyParking app

Bay Area TV station KRON explains how the app works: “If you launch the free MonkeyParking app on your phone and click request a spot, monkey faces pop up. Those are street parking spots near you that other MonkeyParking app users currently have their car parked in but they are willing to sell. You can offer them $5, $10, $15 or $20 for that spot. If they accept, the two of you switch out your cars in the parking spot.”

Not since Los Angeles and other cities announced that they would install sensors in on-street parking spaces that would reset the meter to zero when a car pulls out — depriving the next motorist of the occasional extra few minutes left, and transferring the “extra” cash into city coffers — has a parking story made my blood boil more.

Some members of L.A. City Council seem to agree with me.

They’ve proposed a ban on MonkeyParking and similar apps.

As The Times reported last week, “Councilman Mike Bonin, who asked for the legislation, likened [the MonkeyParking app] to ‘pimping out public parking spots.’

“‘This is not the sharing economy, it’s the stealing economy,’ Bonin said. ‘They are taking a public asset and effectively privatizing it.’”

To paraphrase Elvis Costello, I can’t decide whether to be disgusted or amused. On one level, you have to admire the ingenuity of people who figure out a way to use technology to further separate society into haves and have-nots in order to skim a profit. They sure are smart. Like a mad scientist.

On the other hand, there are certain things that, if you come up with them, you should decide not to invent. Atomic bombs. New forms of torture. How to monetize public space for private gain.

As far as I can tell, no one has brought this up yet, but I foresee a public safety threat if this app is allowed to proliferate. I’m a gentle, nonviolent guy, but even I couldn’t guarantee my reaction if I pulled up to a parking space where a dude is sitting in an idling car, clearly ready to leave but refusing to go until his $20 parking app appointment shows up and swoops in ahead of me.

This is especially true if he tries to explain it.

Me: “Who’s this guy? I’ve been waiting for your space.”

Idling driver: “This is part of the new ‘sharing economy.’ Like Airbnb and Lyft. This guy either needed the space more than you or is able to afford it more than you, because he was willing to pay $20 for it. I’m very sorry you’re going to miss your job interview or your pitch meeting or your audition or your last chance to visit your dying mother. Life is tough, but $20 is $20.”

But this is a big world and a big city, and there are lots of people who just had a very bad day. Some of them are big and some of them have guns. This can’t be a good idea.

12 thoughts on “LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: The MonkeyParking app could turn us into monsters

  1. Right on Ted. First, if I came up to a space with someone idling, waiting to pull out until the paying customer got there, I would simply park in front of them and refuse to move. Second, this is a very old battle, going back at least to the battle over the Commons in England hundreds of years ago. Check out the Levelers and the Diggers. Same exact thing, only its cars and not livestock and farming.

  2. I have decided that you, Ted, are not allowed to make money using the English language. It is something that we all share and you may no longer use it to make a profit like the rapacious, robber baron one-percenter you are. English for the people and not profits!

    • I’m always leary of those whose first impulse upon learning of something they dislike is to pass a law banning it. Don’t we have more than enough laws already, often onerous or frivolous?

      • What so many people these days can’t come to grips with is that life just sucks sometimes. Rather than dealing with outrageous fortune, people of all political stripes demand that government make it better. And if it leads to more cases like Eric Garner, Kelly Thomas or Tamir Rice…oh well.

        But the liberal perfect-worlders never put it all together. They demand law after law and when someone gets killed over a trifle disclaim their responsibility by shouting “Oh, I never meant *that*!” when they get what they wanted.

      • The assumption is certainly there in mainstream thought that THE thing to do is go to government for any problem. I trace this mentality at least back to the Progressive Era and certainly to FDR. There is almost nothing in people’s minds today that is beyond the scope of government. And as you say, little consideration is given to costs or unintended consequences. The recent examples that come to mind (which at the time of passage, were warned of):

        Obama’s ‘Credit Card Bill of Rights.’ If you cut rates, they’re make it up with higher fees.

        Obamacare. This will do nothing to address costs and employers will cut hours for many employees to under 30.

        Minimum wage increases. Unemployment will increase.

      • But what makes it worse coming from the left is that they genuinely believe they’re doing good. The conservatives who demand social engineering are honest, or, at least unapologetic about their intentions. They’re out to screw certain types of people and don’t care who knows.

        Eric Garner’s death is the result of a perfect storm of progressive policies but don’t you dare try to point that out to a progressive. First, he was dealing with cigarettes (worse than the holocaust, black plague and the Ice Capades combined), next he was (gasp!) making money! And doing so without a government permission slip and giving the government a cut at that! And last, he was an Ignorant Negro who needs, at all times, the guiding hand of upper-middle class white people who know more about blacks from their sociology courses than actual black people. But no, it was the racist cops and not the government that gave them such broad power in the first place.

      • Excellent points about Garner. The persecution of smokers has really been getting to me lately.

        It really blew my mind when I had it pointed out to me that these white liberals, supposedly so against segregation, actually de facto self-segregate much of the time. They really do feel and want to feel separate and superior to blacks. In fact, the only states in America in which the majority of white males identify as Dems, are in the northwest and northeast…the regions with the least blacks…so much for the theory that people are only racist because they don’t know any blacks.

  3. “Turn us into monsters”? Do you mean the monsters that we already are, or some new kind of monster?
    Ya’know, this kind of app couldn’t work if their weren’t people who wanted it and used it…

      • So you’re only in favor of legalizing pot and not other drugs? I’m sure there are other things that shouldn’t be sold, but the only one off the top of my head is…wait for it…people.

  4. Too late to warn on this for Chicago.

    Chicago has already sold its street parking to a private corporation that now charges multiples of the old city meter rates. And worse yet, the somewhere in the billions the city received has already been spent so the city gets nothing for the rest of the 99 year lease. Plus , if the city closes of the street for a festivities the city has to pay for obstructed spaces.

    I think Daley decided not to run again to get out of the way when the feces hits the fan.

  5. I can see this working, or not, at family get togethers like Thanksgiving.

    Instead of the sharing at the table in the communist way (Please pass the turkey, I can’t reach it. OK, I can.) to the capitalist way (Please pass the turkey, I can’t reach it. I can. What’s it worth to you?)