Parking App Faces Boston City Council's Scrutiny - NECN


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Parking App Faces Boston City Council's Scrutiny

Councilors had tough questions for Haystack's CEO



    Parking App Faces City Council's Scrutiny

    Councilors had tough questions for Haystack's CEO. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014)

    Boston City Councilors are looking to get ahead of a potential parking problem.

    At a hearing Wednesday, they discussed a proposed ordinance aiming to prohibit the sale and resale of public property. The proposal comes as a response to a new company called Haystack operating in Boston. Haystack's app allows drivers to alert other users when they are leaving a parking spot and then swap with them - for a fee.

    Councilor Frank Baker is behind the proposal.

    "It would help the individuals find spots, but it's not going to alleviate any of the parking issues or the parking crunches," he said.

    City leaders raised a number of concerns at the hearing, including what police say is the potential to lead to fights as well as distracted driving.

    Eric Meyer, Haystack's founder, addressed the concerns and says they've had no reported problems so far.

    "It does seem a bit silly and a bit foolish to have a councilman introduce a piece of legislation to try to ban something that he's had no time to thoroughly study or analyze its effect on the city," he said.

    "When you go to more congested neighborhoods, we have elderly people that don't have a smartphone, that won't have the app and will lose out," Baker countered.

    Haystack launched in Boston in July. Meyer says they have close to 5,000 users to date.

    According to him, the standard cost of a spot is $3, but users do have the option to set their own price of up to $15 dollars. In his eyes, the company offers a solution to one of the city's biggest problems.

    "Haystack does not sell or reserve public spaces. It's simply a platform that allows neighbors to communicate with one another," Meyer said.

    "In this case, a lot of the discussion was around parking spaces, but I think it's to prohibit further down the line, whether it becomes parks, park benches, flag poles, anything like that," Baker said.

    Wednesday was just a hearing to discuss the subject, but a vote on this ordinance could be coming as soon as the next council meeting.  

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