Lawn ornaments no longer entitle Bostonians to parking spots

March 4, 2015

Christmas decorations, traffic cones, deck chairs, children’s outgrown toys and old appliances: Following record snowfall, Boston residents have been using whatever they can get their hands on to claim their shoveled-out parking spots while they’re not using them. The unofficial rule, as NPR reports, is “[W]hoever takes the time to dig out a parking space gets to keep it for 48 hours.” Yet, as the city recovers from being pummeled by 100 inches of snow — and anticipates another snowy hit later this week — that informal decree is being upended by the city’s mayor.

space saver note

In Boston, shoveling the snow out of a parking spot no longer entitles you to sole usage of that spot until the March melt-off. Image from pjmorse.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh ordered the city’s public works department to begin removing parking space savers this past Monday. “I’m asking residents to remain respectful of their neighbors and their property as the process of space saver removal begins, and as we continue to clean up from nearly 8 feet of snow in less than 30 days,” said Walsh. (Check out a sampling of the miscellany people have been using to save their sought-after spaces in this photo.)

Some residents have also posted signs on their space savers, reading, for example, from the weary “Old people dug this out. Please don’t take!” (attached to a lawn chair) and “Please shovel your own spot. This was exhausting!” (written on a paper bag attached to a wooden chair) to the threatening, “Out of respect you don’t park in a spot that you haven’t shoveled out. If so there will be a price to pay! Thank you.”

Parking is precious in many of Boston’s “tightly packed” neighborhoods, reports WBUR. Neighbors have retaliated against space-stealers in a number of unsavory ways: nasty notes placed on windshields and snow purposely piled on top of cars, or even keyed cars, punctured tires and smashed windows. The problem isn’t common only to Boston: Space-saving drivers in Philadelphia have been warned by the police department that the practice is illegal there.

“If I’m going to pay $40 to have this dug out it’s gonna be mine — believe me!” 73-year-old Arnold Gatto told the Boston Globe. Gatto lives on a street in South Boston where the space savers will be removed at the end of this week. “It’s always been you have [two] days. It’s supposed to snow tonight. I should have [two] more days.” Thirty-year-old resident Matthew Wall agreed, saying he wasn’t planning on removing his orange cone. “I don’t understand why if we put that much work into it we can’t keep the spot until the snow is gone.”

Because of this year’s snowfall, city officials have allowed residents more than the average 48-hour period to remove their space savers, and the city hasn’t ticketed anyone, “even when workers seize them — as code enforcement staffers focus on getting sidewalks clear and passable,” notes the Globe. But following the mayor’s announcement, the public works department has begun removing space savers in the North End, Beacon Hill, Eagle Hill, Wellington Hill, Oak Square and Fort Hill.

Some public works employees are worried about potential spats with residents over their marching orders. As the Globe reported, trash collector Vladimir Diaz said that he had once been threatened with a knife after taking away a parking space saver. “You see this? They use anything,” he said, pointing out a cooler stocked with ice and sand. “They think we won’t take it away, but we have to take it away.”

Other residents, however, welcome the mayor’s dictate. “It’s time for them to go,” Mark Nadolny told WBUR. “I guess the mayor could have waited another week or two, but you’ve got to do it at some point.”

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Category: municipal, Regulations

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