Boston City Council Officially Bans Haystack

By David Bloch | 08/20/2014

After a contentious public hearing last week, the City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday to prohibit the “selling, leasing, or reserving of public ways in the City of Boston.” The council says the ordinance will ensure that, “public property and public spaces […] remain assets of the city that are accessible for all residents and visitors.” Haystack has indefinitely ceased operation in Boston.

The concept of preserving public space for, y’know, the public, seems to be lost on #disruptors and #innovators like Haystack CEO and Founder Eric Meyer. The mentality that drives startups like Haystack leaves no room in their worldview for anything other than tech-industry-driven disruption, at all-costs.

Meyer insists that they don’t sell parking spots – they just allow customers to share information about parking spots. This is true, but they also make money from the sales (or whatever they want to call it) of parking spots. No matter how he attempts to frame it, Haystack profits from the buying and selling of public spaces. (I’m sure he has no qualms about that anyway.)

However, I do hope that any future collaboration between Haystack and the city produces a solution that keeps parking accessible and doesn’t attempt to profit from public space.

Meyer at last week's hearing.

Meyer at last week’s hearing.

Here is the full statement released by Meyer today:

“Although we think that Ordinance 1310 should not apply to Haystack (as Haystack does not sell, lease or reserve public parking spots), it seems clear to us that City Council has passed Ordinance 1310, at least in part, to challenge and end Haystack service in the City of Boston.

We believe that taking actions against new ideas and passing legislation based upon hypothetical concerns that have not materialized in the actual implementation of the Haystack app is premature and does nothing to help solve Boston’s acknowledged parking issues. The passage of this ordinance is a step in the wrong direction for parking innovation, and for innovation of every kind.

Nonetheless, it is our company’s mission to solve parking issues collaboratively. Accordingly, 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.”