Welcome to Curbed Cuts, a tri-weekly digest connecting the dots between shelter, structure, parks, transportation, and more.
Can an app save you from tickets?
You might recall Sweetch, the 2014-era app that let users pay each other for vacated San Francisco parking spaces and was subsequently the object of vocal derision and, eventually, a cease and desist letter from the City Attorney. The app went “on hiatus” and eventually offered up the app’s code “for any developer looking to solve the Bay Area’s public parking issue,” CEO and founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi told Business Insider in 2014.
Around that same time, Chahdi, a Mission District resident, launched VC-funded company “Vatler,” an on-demand valet service that provided “a way for you to order a valet through a mobile app, enabling you to drop your car off in front of your office and then request it whenever you’re ready to leave,” TechCrunch reported at the time.
That, too, tanked about a year later, after deciding instead to focus on nighttime parking for restaurants.
In a Medium post, Chahdi explained what went wrong:
[…] We received a phone call from the city explaining that traditional parking companies were not happy with the way we were poaching business from them and that we had to slow down our growth. We ignored this warning. Ten days later, we received a phone call from the police department telling us that our permits had not been granted and they gave us a warning because we were operating illegally in most of our locations.
We were paying thousands of dollars in taxes to the city each month and were complying with all of their requests. We wanted to understand why the city officials changed their minds and tried reaching out to the decision makers find a way to comply with their potential new requirements. No one wanted to meet with us.
It was impossible for us to grow and add more restaurant partners. New restaurants knew we didn’t have…