Haystack: City will prohibit apps that inflate Boston parking cost

Metered parking in Boston can be hard to come by. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
Metered parking in Boston can be hard to come by.

On the same day a Baltimore-based parking app was set to hold its Boston launch party, the city issued statements that threatened taking actions against apps that it says inflates publicly owned parking spaces.

Haystack, a mobile app, lets Apple iOS and Android users buy and sell street parking spots in real-time. It was expected to launch in Boston this week and was scheduled to have its launch party Tuesday night.

Hours before the launch party, Mayor Marty Walsh’s office issued a statement about the controversial app, saying ‘pay-to-park’ apps may impede access to public spaces.

The Boston Transportation Department “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,” Walsh said in a statement.

Haystack users are able to connect with others in their neighborhood who are either searching for a parking spot, or leaving one. Space buyers are charged $3, with $2.25 going to the space sellers and 75 cents going to Haystack.

Haystack’s 24-year-old founder, Eric Meyer, told Metro this week that the app helps reduce congestion and emissions.

“We had several Haystack members here in Baltimore who said, ‘Oh my God, if there is one city that needs this more than any other city in the country, it’s Boston,” said Meyer.

In a separate statement Tuesday, the city said metered and residential parking spaces are publicly owned and cannot be privately sold.

“City representatives have met with Haystack to explore their service, and at this point, we remain concerned that their app, and apps like it, artificially inflate the cost of parking, and allow individuals to profit from public space,” the city said. “We are exploring our options to protect the residents and consumers of Boston.”

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.



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