Thursday, February 11, 2010

Anti-social claiming of parking spots in South Boston (before snow has started)

A social norm in South Boston that allows people to reserve public parking spots that they have dug out of the snow is unraveling, the Globe reports: Claiming a spot before shoveling? That’s not Southie

"The trash barrels, plastic crates, and lawn chairs lining the streets of South Boston yesterday morning were hardly unusual in a neighborhood famous for its you-shovel-it, you-own-it moral code in claiming curbside parking in snow storms. But there was a difference yesterday: The place-holders were out before a flake had fallen.
Even though commuters woke up hearing forecasts for up to a foot of snow during the day, the fact that so many had staked out spots without earning them by shoveling first was too much for some longtime residents.
“That was not the original idea,’’ said Kelly Watts, a 40-year-old lifelong resident, as she frowned at a wicker stool saving a spot of dry pavement on Emerson Street near Tynan Elementary School. “We would never have done that growing up. Claiming a spot you haven’t even dug out? That’s just lazy.’’
Laying claim to curbside parking is practiced around the city, but in Southie, where residents defied mayoral orders to stop - and an army of garbage trucks he sent to dispose of place-holders - it’s considered a birthright.
Protocol has long held that shoveling is a required down payment, but increasingly drivers are snatching up spaces in advance, knowing they will be harder to come by after the snow falls. Residents say the preemptive strikes are exposing rifts.
“Whoever did this is new Southie,’’ said Eddie Phillips as he walked his dog past a claimed spot on N Street near East Broadway shortly after noon.
By then, a gallery of household items lined the streets - a plastic recylcing bin on N Street, a turned-over trash can on P, lawn chairs weighted with bricks on West Ninth.
Each makeshift marker rested on bare asphalt, untouched save a preventive dusting of salt. The anticipated storm hadn’t arrived.
“You would never have seen this in the old days. Not in a million years,’’ said Phillips, a 66-year-old who said neighbors used to stick together, not selfishly scramble to get theirs. “Back in the day, you’d shovel your spot out, then you’d shovel your neighbor’s out, then you’d save it for him so he’d have it when he got home. That’s old Southie.’’ "
"When she first arrived in South Boston, she respected the sanctity of parking barrels and paint cans. But then people started stealing her hard-dug spot, so she took someone else’s. Retribution was swift.
“My car got boxed in so badly I couldn’t wedge out,’’ the 49-year-old recalled with a sigh. “I went back to following the rules.’’
Paybacks like the kind Medina got led Mayor Thomas M. Menino in 2005 to declare war on the claiming of parking spaces, and he ordered city workers to remove all the markers. Furious South Boston residents, led by the late Councilor James M. Kelly, revolted.
Menino compromised, with a rule that allowed the practice as long as the markers were cleared from the street 48 hours after the end of a snow emergency.
Even with many residents dismayed now at the claiming of spots before snow has fallen, the deck furniture and picnic coolers that show up on the street go undisturbed.
“You move it, you might find it tossed through your windshield,’’ said Kevin Watts, 38."


Andrew said...

When the city was picking up the markers to discourage saving spots, people were putting out old TVs and computers to mark their spots. That way if the city removed the marker, they wouldn't have to pay the city to dispose of their old electronics.

"Mahrk ya spoht with'a toasta, guy"

Anonymous said...

hmm... Interesting stuff. I was just doing research on this subject and came across a blog, where you can send in photos of the junk people put out on the streets. It's amusing.