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Desperate for a parking spot? There's an app for that

ParkModo, a new app designed to help people find open parking spaces, is causing controversy in San Francisco, where the product is being tested
New parking app aims to put a price tag on parking info 02:04

SAN FRANCISCO - Rudyard Kipling said "San Francisco has only one drawback-- tis hard to leave."

These days, there's another--tis hard to find a parking space.

Some entrepreneurs have found a solution which is giving city government road rage.

At some time every driver about to pull out of a parking spot has thought: "I could sell this space." Now there's an app for that.

For a price, smartphone apps will match a driver searching for parking with someone about to leave a space CBS News

So, this would be saying, "Here's my parking spot that I'm about to leave?'"

"This spot is available," explained Dan Shifrin, the co-founder of ParkModo, a smart phone app. "I'm about to leave. I posted it for $5."

For a price, the app will match a driver searching for parking with someone about to leave a space.

"Why not meld the efficiencies of a marketplace that ultimately can make a very bad situation like parking in the city better for everyone," Shifrin asked.

The solution to the problem of too few spots has upset city officials CBS News

ParkModo along with two similar apps, MoneyParking and Sweetch, have chosen San Francisco as their first test market. This city, crowded with technology companies and never enough parking, would seem the perfect place to launch a smartphone parking solution. But San Francisco has declared the parking apps illegal.

"This is trying to take a public asset that doesn't belong to them and make a profit off of it," said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the city attorney. "That's all this is."

ParkModo's co-founder argues that his app doesn't charge for a parking spot. It charges for knowledge.

Dan Shifrin CBS News

And there is money exchanged?

"There is money exchanged -- if you want to purchase my information and I want to offer you my information," he said.

So that's his point -- he's selling information, he's not selling a parking spot?

"I'm just saying when I'm leaving," Shifrin said. "That's all we're doing."

San Francisco is threatening to slap a $300 fine on anyone using the apps. In a city where cable cars are part of the public transit system, changing the way drivers find parking is turning into an uphill struggle.

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