By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council today took a first step toward outlawing the new practice of drivers using a mobile app to auction off their parking space before they pull away.

City Council’s “Streets and Services” Committee approved a bill that makes it illegal to sell or lease an on-street parking space.

The measure was prompted by mobile apps like “Parking Monkey” and “Haystack,” which connect drivers leaving spaces with others looking for a spot — allowing the driver who’s leaving to essentially auction off his spot for a fee.

At the hearing, Andrew Stober, of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation, testified that on-street parking is owned by the public, not an individual.

“Mobile applications of this kind perversely facilitate the exploitation of a scarce public resource solely for private gain,” he said.  “They would frustrate drivers who might believe a parking space is becoming available only to be told by the incumbent that it is reserved.  It’s conceivable that these interactions would create dangerous conditions on the streets, and foster needless disputes, or even confrontation.”

Rick Dickson, of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, said that agency supports the measure.

“These are public spaces and should be available to the public on an equal basis,” he said.

(Rick Dickson of the PPA.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Rick Dickson of the PPA. Image from City of Phila. TV)

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The sponsor of the bill, councilman Bill Greenlee, says the “Parking Monkey” app is becoming quite popular in other cities and he wants to nip the practice in the bud here in Philadelphia.

(Councilman Bill Greenlee.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Councilman Bill Greenlee. Image from City of Phila. TV)

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No one from the firm that developed the app appeared at the hearing.

The measure now goes to the full City Council for a vote.