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Boston Haystack app banned by city

Boston Haystack app, a new mobile technology that allows users to buy and sell public parking spaces, was banned on Wednesday by the City Council.

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.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

Boston Haystack app, a new mobile technology that allows users to buy and sell public parking spaces, was effectively banned on Wednesday by the city.

The Boston City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the selling, leasing, or reserving of public ways in thecity,according to BetaBoston.The ordinance also states that only the Boston Transportation Department has the authority and jurisdiction to regulate parking.

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The vote came after heated discussions between the app's creators and city councilors after its local launch. At today's vote, councilors discussed concerns that if apps like Haystack allowed the private sale of public parking spaces, more companies may try to profit from other types of public property, such as benches.

The Baltimore-based startupwent live in Boston last month, allowing users toconnect with others in their neighborhood who are either searching for a parking spot, or leaving one. Space buyers were charged $3, with $2.25 going to the space sellers and 75 cents going to Haystack.

Haystack app Founder Eric Meyer said the technologywould reduce emissions and traffic congestion, as users will spend less time searching for those coveted spaces.

A representative for Haystack was not immediately available for comment, but in a statement published by The Boston Business Journal, Meyer said the service may find a new use in the city down the road.

"Haystack will suspend service in Boston this week until further notice in the hopes of engaging with the Office of New Urban Mechanics and local lawmakers to identify a modified approach to parking issues that can be supported by City Hall," Meyer said.

Kate Norton, a city spokeswoman, said last month that the city encourages innovation that addresses transportation challenges, but that services like Haystack “artificially inflate the cost of parking and allow individuals to profit from public space.”

“Neither of these activities are in line with the city’s effort to keep parking as open and publicly accessible as possible. These spaces are publicly owned, and cannot be privately sold,” said Norton.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS

 
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