Find a sweet parking spot? A new web app lets you monetize it by auctioning off the rights to take your place when you leave.
Parking Auction is a fairly brilliant idea: you're about to head home from a night out on the town. Things are hoppin', and parking is scarce. As you're walking back to your car, you take out your phone and start accepting online bids for your spot from other drivers in the area, and as soon as you get to your car, you accept the highest one. The other driver heads straight to your spot, you pull out, they pull in, you make some money, and they get immediate parking. Nice.
At least, nice in concept. It would be great if it worked, and it's currently being tested in NYC to see how it goes. But we'm not entirely convinced that auctioning off parking spaces is a good idea. Is selling a public parking space even legal? Sort of. Here's what the Parking Auction FAQ says:
U.S. & World
How is this legal?
• You are not actually selling your spot. You are selling information — that a parking spot is about to become available.
• A logistics company selling information about the fastest route to take isn't selling the road.
What happens if another car tries to take the spot I'm selling?
• You quietly drive away and lose the sale. It's no different than trying to give your spot to your neighbor and someone else pulls up first.
The difference, though, is that the logistics company in the above example isn't sitting in the middle of the best road, forcing people to find another route unless they pay for you to move. And really, it IS different than trying to give your spot to your neighbor, because it's not about "giving" anything: Parking Auction is an auction. It's about making money. And if you're trying to sell your parking spot to your neighbor, and some other dude drives up and wants to take the spot for free, what do you think is going to happen?
The issue here is that there's just no incentive not to abuse the system since you can't force people out of parking spots (with them being public and all), and since the spot was free to begin with, all it costs the person waiting for a bid is their time. Meanwhile, people who don't feel like shelling out cash for something that's legally free are stuck circling the block, waiting for you to just leave already. Is it a waste of everyone's time? Of course. Is it technically illegal? Apparently not.
Next up: Toilet Auction! "Sorry, I'm using this public restroom right now, and I'm not coming out until I get a high enough bid. Pay up!"