Is It Cool to Save a Parking Spot in JP?

Chairs and other objects always pop up in shoveled-out spots after each snowstorm. Legally, there's no basis for it, but: is this a neighborhood rule where you live? Do you abide by the "he who dug it" code?


Police have responded to numerous reports this week of neighbors fighting over one of the city's 'hottest' post-blizzard commodities: on-street parking. 

While there's no legal basis for the practice, residents will often leave identifying markers in the parking spaces they've spent hours digging out. As the city's emergency lots closed Monday morning, though, some residents seemed to ignore the informal rule. 

Readers, we wanted to ask you: is this an unspoken rule in your neighborhood? Have you ever had a parking spot marker ignored? Taken another's space in a fit of desperation? 

Share your story and opinion with other readers in our comment section below.  

Cheryl February 12, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Actually, I don't believe this is an unwritten rule. On the City of Boston's website about winter weather it says: "Don't use space savers more than 48 hours after a snow emergency has been lifted." I believe the parking ban is still in effect or was just recently lifted, so I think it's legit to use space savers.
Em February 12, 2013 at 06:23 PM
While there are limits on using space savers, there is no written rule you can use them. I totally understand saving a space you dug out, but if everyone chipped in and dug spaces (most don't) and didn't pile snow in the street, then there wouldn't be a parking problem. Anything marking a space when there's no official snow emergency or after the 48 hour limit should be removed. People are ridiculous.
yannaro February 12, 2013 at 06:44 PM
Well, when there's no snow there doesn't seem to be a problem with on street parking. So that must mean there are enough spaces. Therefore, if every one dug out their own space and reserved it we wouldn't have a problem. The people who are too lazy, or just don't care, cause the problem when they look for an easy out.
Rosa S February 12, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Karma is real people. Dont take a spot you didnt shovel. Period. Please carry a shovel in your trunk and shovel out your own spot. Its not too late!
Patricia M Thomas February 12, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I'm an older woman, and paid someone $45 to shovel my car out, plus spent 2 hours myself cleaning the car off and shoveling. I try not to use my car, because I'm concerned someone will take this space, and if that happens, I am in serious trouble. If I could even find a place, I would be unable to shovel it out.
yogasong February 13, 2013 at 12:50 PM
I'm with Patricia. I paid a young man $25 to shovel out my space because I have physical issues. There are definitely no extra spaces on my street because most everyone is able to take the T to work. While my preference would also be to work in the city I have yet to land a job there so off to the suburbs I go to earn a living. There's no easy answer to this issue.
Alexandria Holden February 13, 2013 at 02:36 PM
I feel as though if you can't beat them, join them- everyone on my street does this so if I didn't, I wouldn't have a spot. Although sometimes it's inconvenient and a little extreme (I've seen spot holders when there's only 2 inches on the ground) everyone really respects this rule. However, we are not on a main street that people other than residents park on, so I think this 'rule' is a little more practical. I think the line sometimes gets fuzzy when you are on a road that other people depend on parking for, but I'm not going to judge either way.
Erica Lewy February 13, 2013 at 02:50 PM
There aren't as many spots b/c the "empty" spots are now full of piles of snow - from people who dug out their cars and from snow that was moved out of the way from plows. Whether the rule is unwritten or written, it's obnoxious to take a chair, laundry basket, sign or other object out of a spot someone obviously shoveled, just so you can grab a spot on the street. That said, after a couple of days, it's time to move your stuff off the street and get on with regular parking.
Adam Sell February 13, 2013 at 03:53 PM
I spent three and a half hours digging my spot out, you'd better believe I'm going to put a marker there to retain it. I'd be less fascist about it if the city would clear the streets better (I live in central JP), but since there's only enough room to get by, I'm hanging onto this spot for as long as I can.
Scott February 13, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Bring Resident Parking to all of JP and it will solve the problem on Moraine Street. MA plates are in the minority, most of the cars have tags from NH, NJ, NY, RI, Oregon and Washington (wtf?).
melinda tillie February 13, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Scott, I agree 100%. My st is always M-F with cars from the burbs that park here and take the T. They dont respect the neighborhood in that they park right by the Fire Hydrant..no class. Resident parking would solve the problem.
Guy Pondside February 13, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Sorry: these are PUBLIC ways, meaning you don't "own" the space you cleared out. If you're going to be so intent on saving "your" space then perhaps you ought to look into renting a PRIVATE space. Woe to the person who opts to "save" a space in front of MY home with discarded furniture, crates, etc.: I'll be the homeowner who removes it and throws it away.
Jerry O'Connor February 13, 2013 at 06:23 PM
I have always been somewhat perplexed, and mildly curious, about this phenomenon. People say "I dug that space out" as if they had excavated a flat space out of a hillside, like a prairie homesteader. What really happened was (a) you parked for free on a public street, (b) it snowed, and (c) in order to drive away you had to get the fallen snow off of, and out from around, your car. Granted, it's a lot of work, but to me that seems insufficient, by far, to create a property right, even temporarily, in the free public space in which you happened to park. I also note that this right is known for being enforced via vigilante justice dispensed against the trespasser by the putative victim, which also, to me, cuts against its legitimacy. Legitimate rights tend to be enforced through legitimate means by a broader element of society, right? That said, I seem to be in the minority here, and in truth I don't really care that much, so I will go along with the custom, but it is very strange to me.
Chris Child February 13, 2013 at 06:38 PM
The parking ban was lifted on Tuesday, 2/12/2013 at 6 pm, so space savers should be removed by tomorrow Thursday, 2/14/2013 at 6pm. We'll see how long they remain. This was definitely a time that I felt relieved to not own a car.
Emily S. February 13, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Except for the elderly, disabled and those out with small children on their own I don't understand what rationale anyone in JP would have for not taking public transportation. It seems to me that unless you're paying "rent" or you've purchased a part of the street that it isn't owned by any individual. Agreed, if folks shoveled it wouldn't be an issue!
J. Johnson February 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM
The issue on my street in JP is: there are too many cars and too few spaces, even in fair weather. The neighborhood has been overdeveloped and oversold; coming home after 9 pm usually guarantees that I'll hunt for parking and settle for a space far from my house or on another street. Few people on my street have dug out, much less moved their car, for fear of losing their space. This issue provokes fear, anxiety, anger and uncivility. I wish there was a better solution than lawn chair grubstaking. I'm not convinced that, even if every resident helped clear the entire street, all parkers would be accommodated fairly.
Ben Boardman February 14, 2013 at 11:09 AM
Chris Child has the right idea. But even after the ban has been lifted, the snow will still be there. I also like the idea of residential parking. Baby steps...
yogasong February 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Residential parking sounds like a good idea to me. My street is the first street after the residential permitted streets near the Green St T and the Library at the other end. Many nights I come home and there's no spaces on my street to park. I would love to build a driveway but there's not enough room for a curb cut as deemed by the city. City life - can't live with it, can't live without it cuz I love it too much.
William Brokhof February 14, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I couldn't have said it better than Jerry O'Connor. Spot on. And Resident Permit Parking is a must. All you need are signatures from 51% of the residents on 5 contiguous streets. I actually have a pamphlet from the city on this process. Ill try and post it up on my blog this week at www.thebostonhometeam.com.
Peg February 14, 2013 at 02:20 PM
As a tradesperson with a van full of tools I can not take the T to work. I arrive at a job and find an empty street full of saved parking spaces. How about a sign saying when you will return and need the space, so others can use it during your absence?
Eddie G. February 14, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I don't drive so this is not a problem for me but I have seen many people argue over a space they dug out--even DAYS after a lot of snow... But this all bring up a good point about lack of parking in JP. I'm 2 blocks from Forest Hills and know for a fact that folks from miles, blocks away park on my street so they can then take the T. Some of them are morning commuters and some evening commuters. I feel that parking in this manner is very unfair to the people living on my street. May times I have friends visiting and their is no parking for them. Also, my neighbor downstairs is elderly and will often have to park on South Street to find parking. WE NEED RESIDENTIAL PARKING.
Zooloo February 14, 2013 at 05:58 PM
I'm grateful there AREN'T Resident Parking permits in most of JP! I feel that is another silly hurdle to have to negotiate in Boston. I certainly don't want it in JP! I DO however think that there has got to be SOME solution to the "Saving Spot" issue. I think that people who mark their spots should be able to retrieve them when they come home from work, but people who need parking in the middle of the day should be able to move the marker and park in it from 10-3. This obviously isn't fool proof, since there are people who don't work for one reason or another, who may get their spots taken in the middle of the day if they go out.
Zooloo February 14, 2013 at 06:08 PM
The hard part about residential parking permits is that when one goes to a party that is not in one's neighborhood, it is hard to find parking. I see the whole public transportation deal, but if I were going to Cambridge, where there are residential parking permits, It takes so much longer to take the T. 45 minutes by T is 15 minutes by car, add on an additional 15 minutes to find parking and most, and you still beat 45 minutes. There really has GOT to be another way. If JP ends up with residential parking permits, I will be VERY SAD! That is just another sign of gentrification! It seems that people got along fine without them until JP started seriously gentrifying!
Zooloo February 14, 2013 at 06:11 PM
THIS is a GREAT idea! Then people can have their spots when they come back! I am SO AGAINST residential parking permits!
Zooloo February 14, 2013 at 06:17 PM
I am SO SADDENED that people think we need residential parking permits! They cause SO MANY HEADACHES!!! -Going to pick it up -finding a spot out of your neighborhood, but still in JP I TOTALLY AGREE that people should just put signs out saying when they will return. THEN people can gauge at where they can park. We DON'T need more government meddling! We can figure out a way and WORK IT OUT! THAT is what I love about JP!
Scott February 14, 2013 at 08:30 PM
LOL, the burden of picking up a sticker! SO BURDENSOME! We don't need more parking for real, legal residents and their properly registered vehicles, JP MUST be a parking lot for COMMUTERS and out-of-state STUDENTS living 20 to a house!
Scott February 14, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Ronald P Monroe February 17, 2013 at 02:30 PM
Last week I witnessed an enraged woman peel out, pull her car into a neighbor's driveway, get out of her car, grab a shovel and start shoveling snow all over the automobile and around the tires, rear and front of the car...in essence shoveling it in...presumably because this vehicle was in "her" space. This is absolutely wrong on so many levels. Personally, I have always respected when someone has saved their space. However, I have rarely participated in the practice myself.
deviant rascal February 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Just another reason not to drive. Jesus saves, but not just parking spaces..


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