Haystack is one of latest “parking spot poaching” apps to hit the market. Haystack lets people “sell” their parking spaces to drivers who are looking for a spot. While this might be a cool way for some people to make money, some cities are cracking down on this dubious practice. Here’s what you should know about the legality of Haystack and other apps like it.
1. Haystack Lets People Pay to Swipe Someone’s Parking Spot
Learn more about how Haystack works in the video above.
Haystack is an app that connects people who are looking for a parking spot with people who are willing to give up their spot in exchange for some cold, hard cash. Haystack takes a little off the top from each transaction. At the end of each month, Haystack users can “cash out” their earnings…as long as they have at least $10 earned.
2. Many in Boston Are Against Haystack
— Martine Powers (@martinepowers) July 16, 2014
Haystack recently opened up availability to Bostonians, but not all Boston residents are happy about Haystack moving in to their territory. Boston’s Mayor Walsh recently issued a statement that took a stance against Haystack and other apps like it. The statement reads, in part:
“By inviting users to transfer the occupancy of a particular parking space for a fee, these apps may subject public spaces to private regulation. Use of these apps while searching for a parking space may also lead to distracted driving…
[The Boston Transportation Department (BTD)] will continue to evaluate any and all systems that may infringe upon the public’s right to equal access and/or those that may artificially inflate the cost of spaces on Boston roadways and in municipal off-street parking lots, and BTD will take appropriate measures to prohibit any such app that is determined to do so”
Boston isn’t alone in its opposition of these types of apps. The Boston Globe reports that the City of San Francisco threatened two other “pay-to-park” apps with fines, and succeeded in pushing those app out of town.
3. Haystack Is Part of ‘Predatory Parking’ Trend
Check out the video above to learn more about these types of apps.
Haystack is just one of several “predatory parking” apps out now. Valley Wag notes that MonkeyParking recently raised some eyebrows in San Francisco. MonkeyParking, along with the apps Sweetch and ParkModo, were included in a cease-and-desist letter San Francisco officials issued last month. The companies were given a deadline to cease operations, or else they would be fined.
Oddly enough, San Francisco has experimented with the idea of “surge pricing” for its city parking spaces, just not through an app. A federally-funded project called SFpark recently got some press. Here’s how it works:
“If parking is in high demand on Friday evenings in one block, for instance, rates would increase. A block away, if spaces are typically empty, rates would be reduced. The concept was to spread out demand by tinkering with prices, making it easier for drivers to find spaces.”
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4. Apps Like Haystack May Appeal to ‘Green Drivers’
One benefit Haystack specifically touts in its App Store screenshots is the ability to “Save Time & Emissions.” Some eco-conscious drivers hate the fact that circling the block looking for an open spot is sending emissions into the air. Haystack may be a controversial app, but it may have some appeal for drivers who want to either save the environment, or just hate wasting expensive gas while driving around in search of a place to park.
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5. Boston Has Been Slow to Adopt Haystack
— James Gill (@techsavvywriter) July 26, 2014
A report about Haystack on Boston.com mentioned the app in conjunction with the term “jerk tech,” referring to any type of tech “innovation” that is essentially mean-spirited.
Haystack may have been singled out by Boston officials, but the use of the app hasn’t yet been banned there. However, Bostonians have been slow to adopt Haystack. The Boston Herald reports that Haystack seems to be a ghost town, at least in Boston. Herald writer Jordan Graham shares his experience with using the app to make a profit:
“I drove to Newbury Street, hoping to make a killing. I found a prime parking spot…but even on a bustling Friday afternoon where no empty space on Newbury Street stayed vacant for more than 20 seconds, I had no takers. My original offer expired after an hour or so, and an hour later my second offer expired too…
A handful of spots did begin popping up yesterday evening, but many were permit parking only, and I found none close to where I wanted to go.”