Thursday, January 27, 2011

Snow Storm Parking Wars

Posted by: Noël Jones

We've been hit by several snow and ice storms in succession now, and what initially brings out the nice side of human nature (neighbors shoveling a few inches of pretty white snow, waving and griping in solidarity) now has begun to bring out our dark sides over differences in perspective on what proper snow removal is, and what the parking rules are.

The written parking rules are clear: all spots on public streets are available to any driver who desires to park, regardless who lives in the houses on a given street. But the unwritten parking code among neighbors is more ambiguous. Residents commonly feel that if they have done the hour of shoveling that it takes to get one's car out after the city snow plow has come through and buried it, that they should be entitled to saving that parking space for themselves when they get back. Sometimes they try to save their spaces by putting chairs or trash cans out in the street to mark the spots in front of their houses until they get home. Sometimes neighbors honor that, sometimes they don't. 

A couple of situations came up today that illustrate how these parking wars take place. In one case,
a resident paid another neighbor to dig out her car, and then, because she lives on a hill where people do not shovel out properly and she has great difficulty getting out of a snowy spot in the morning, she asked her neighbor, who has a habit of parking a few of his large vehicles right in front of her house, to please not park there since she had paid someone so that she would be able to park when she got back. He informed her that he planned to move into that spot as soon as she left. Not nice, but legal.

Across the street from my house today, an angry youth began digging his car out after the plow had buried it up to the windows. He was understandably frustrated, but unfortunately began shoveling all the snow back into the middle of the street that had just been plowed. As the piles began to accumulate in the middle of the road, I went out and said, as nicely as I could, "you're going to move that snow to the curb, right?" To which he answered in a very snotty voice, "we'll see about that," and kept shoveling snow into the street. I said, "you know that you can't do that right, that it's illegal to dump a bunch of snow in the street for everyone else to drive over?" To which he answered, "it's fine! They'll push it down!" To which I replied, "they just cleaned the streets so that residents won't have to drive through the snow, and you're dumping it back on the street instead of taking a few steps to the curb with it." He said, "so what, call the cops!" 

So I did. A ridiculous waste of an officer's time, in my opinion, but when a neighbor is intent on being a self-absorbed jerk with no respect for his neighbors and actually tells me to call the police when I am trying to work it out neighbor-to-neighbor, then I'm afraid I have to make that call. A few minutes later an officer came by, the kid vented his frustration at the plow having buried his car, and the officer seemed sympathetic but told him he needs to remove the snow to the curb, not to the middle of the street, which he did. 

On a brighter note, I had enjoyed a rousing round of back spasms for a couple of days, and was dreading shoveling around my corner property. Two neighbors boys stopped by and offered to do it for me, and for the first time in four winters, I didn't turn them away, and everyone was happy.

What's your snow story/parking story? At least we didn't get the 19" that New York got.


Kathy said...

Oh, man. I used to live in Wilson Borough and we did try to save spots if we could. I feel like anyone who practically has a heart attack cleaning out a rather large amount of snow to park deserves to have a place to collapse when they have their coronary.

My .02.

tachitup said...

Great picture! Did you take it this morning or find it elsewhere?

We have a guy from the Southside that rides his bicycle here to ask folks if we need his lawncare/shoveling services. Sometimes you have to say yes, just to reward his spunk.
I'm lucky I have a couple off-street spaces. Tough shoveling, but they're mine then.

ikindle said...

My winter frustration has been living on a snow emergency route. We have to move our cars off the street, but the road doesn't get plowed any wider than the 1 car travel lane. SO rather than digging out our cars and then having a parking space where the car was, we have to dig out a whole car's worth of plowed and packed and often icy snow. Can anyone help me understand the reasoning? Why require cars to move if you don't plan to plow up to the curb?

WWhomeowner said...

frustration comes from homeowners getting together to move their cars, spend a few hours together clearing their side of the street, only to come home and find the lazyass renter (who only pulled his car out, never shoveled) from across the street park his car in the middle of the spots!
one renter actually had the audacity to park in the middle of the cleared spots to save a spot for his girlfriend to park!
I had a bit of joy yesterday when the neighbors boyfriend (who doesn't live here) was forced to shovel out a spot for himself (since I was now in my shoveld spot which he occupied for TWO DAYS).
I went many years not saving a spot, because I felt it was rude and selfish; but now, I've got ONE CAR, and I'll be damned if the lazy inconsiderate renters w/ the 5 cars, who refuse to come out and help will take the one little spot in front of my house.

tunsie said...

I live on snow emergency...i park at the city garage for free.then the city clears the snow and we get to come back...if anyone takes my noels parkig spot I am gonnna beat them up........tunsie

David Caines said...

It's horrible to admit, but I fill a pair of garbage cans with snow and that usually gets the job done. People don't want to put in the effort to move heavy garbage cans full of snow.
I've seen heated arguments here that only due to the police being called didn't turn into fist fights.
And the area's pretty ghetto with it's renters, I think I'm just happy no one has been shot over one yet.
Still, we don't actually have the legal right to hold a space , and anyone who wants to take the space when cleared does. It stinks, but that is the law. Perhaps we'll change that law in time?
We definitely should, but in the interim it's just one of those little unfair things in life that get on all of our nerves.
Hopefully we all get through the winter without too many of these annoyances.

Amy said...

Thought/Solution - Since the City does such an amazing job from April 1 - December 1 of having street cleaning, and having the neighbors park on alternate sides of the street from 9am - Noon (when we're at work), then why not keep the cleaning coming! I'd gladly move my car for a clean, snow-free street. (And I'd like to see my neighbor move their car, which hasn't been moved in the last three storms, so the water can drain from "my" spot!)

P.S. I <3 Tunsie!!

tunsie said...

we called the police a couple of times,because the plow put the sow on the gutter,and the snow would melt and freeze o the street....if anyone parks in noel or amy parking spot.....I will beat U up...tunsie

tunsie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
noel jones said...

A neighbor emailed me this testimony:

"Great post about the saving of parking spaces, seems like we all have a neighbor on our block, that drives us crazy with their parking rituals. Mine keep three cars on the block for 2 people. One car is simply a place saver that they move to take up two spots when their gone. They do this all year round! I thought the street cleaning would cure them, but they continue…"

noel jones said...

i have my own method for saving my parking spot--i own a Subaru--it's terrific in snow, just climbs right over and through. so i shovel just a little by my outer front tire, climb right out and leave the snow there. when i get back, the spot has remained unattractive to less snow-worthy vehicles and i climb right back in. eventually it melts. then again, i'm from alaska, so this idea of complete snow removal is less of a passion with me than it is with most. the subaru could have plowed through all the snow my neighbor was dumping into the middle of the street the other day, but my roommates and other neighbors would have had a hard time.

my roommates, in their mere mortal cars, spin their tires and have to dig themselves out completely to get out of a parking space after a storm. they marvel at my old subaru--best car ever.

FYI: best trick ever for getting out of a spot is to put your floor mat in front and under the outer front tire and drive up onto it. it works best if you HAVE NOT been spinning your tires for a long time (spinning tires just turns a snowy surface into an icy surface).

man, am i ever ready for spring this year...!

noel jones said...

i cannot believe that my roommate--who only moved here two weeks ago, was given a ticket for parking in the yellow, close to a corner in this snowstorm!

first of all, she couldn't even see the yellow paint under a foot and a half of piled up snow, but secondly, parking becomes a problem in the WW during snowstorms because with so much snow piled up in the streets, both from the storm, the plows, and the neighbors shoveling around their cars, space becomes even more limited than usual. sometimes all that's available is a spot by the corner. and on a non-snowy day, people park close to the corners all the time and the city doesn't issue tickets because they know that parking is tough in certain areas of the WW. i have no idea why they picked on her car.

i just can't believe it. it is so mean to ticket someone in a snowstorm.

Untouched Takeaway said...

Being (A) a native of Florida and (B) always having lived where there's a dedicated driveway, this "parking rage" is a new thing to me.

I started frequenting Easton about 3 years ago when I started dating a man who lived on Raspberry Street. I quickly learned to park at the CVS on 14th and walk the block to his house as I even had difficulty parking my Taurus on Raspberry (forget my Explorer - I literally had to park on the sidewalk)

My current SO lives in South Side. The first time I went to his house for dinner, I rang his doorbell. When he answered - no "Hi!" no "Wow - you look great". I got a feverish, wild-eyed "Where'dyaparkyourcar!?!?" I said "Right over there - on the street" He looked anxiously, and breathed a sigh of relief; apparently I had parked "correctly" where I wouldn't incur the wrath of a neighbor by actually possibly parking within, you know, sight distance of their front door!

These experiences helped explain the breathless "offstreet parking!" notations on realtor ads for homes for sale in Easton. The house might have 1/2 a closet and have last been updated during the Eisenhower administration, but by God it has offstreet parking! :D

I am sorry, but if I am visiting someone in Easton, and I find a legal, usable parking space, I am going to legally use it! I love Easton, and happily patronize its businesses. I'm also going to happily patronize its legal parking spaces when I visit.

Oh - if I see you shoveling out your parking space, I'll probably ask if I can help.


PS - I suppose it's worth noting, but probably really obvious that this parking problem stems from the obvious age of Easton streets (some probably go back to horse & buggy days), the apparent unchecked and unregulated (?) permitting of single-family homes to be converted into multi-family units, and the unavoidable fact that many households have more than 1 driver.

Anonymous said...

the motor vehicle code does not mention yellow lines -- it says no parking within 30 feet of a corner. The yellow line is there as a reference, nothing more. Pay the fine, I can't stand coming to an intersection and having to get half way out to see if traffic is coming.

noel jones said...

Anon 9:45--I hear you, but this was an extreme storm situation where already limited parking was reduced by the accumulation of plowed snow.

I too, hate having to pull out to see if anyone is coming too, but this was on a one-way street and she was on the corner that didn't block the view of oncoming traffic. my point is that people park this way consistently in the WW without getting ticketed, presumably because the city understands the parking situation around here, so to ticket someone for doing it in the middle of a snowstorm and not do it all summer to any number of vehicles parking near the corner doesn't make sense.

and UT--yes--100% right--it is the city's willingness to allow to developers to buy single-family homes and convert them into multiple apartments (each bringing 1-2 cars along with it) that has created the parking issues and led to the "parking rage".

Anonymous said...

More then 10 years ago or so, during an equally as brutal winter, the parking situation on my street excalated into an almost block wide brawl. 3 neighbors started fist fighting and others came out to see what was going on and some were trying to stop the fight. To make a long story short, blood was shed and the police had to break it up. All over parking.

WWhomeowner said...

anon 9:45- you are incorrect; the so-called 'vehicle code' refers ambiguously to "no parking within 20ft from a crosswalk at an intersection", which the parking enforcement officer translates as 20 ft from the corner.
I know, I got a ticket for this one! I fought it and won!
I measured; I was actually 13ft from the assumed 'corner' (the corner is a radius, where do they measure from?)when the ticket was written as 6ft IIRC.
whether the corner is painted yellow or not doesn't matter. the city says they are not obligated to paint the corners (because really, it would decrease their revenue flow if they did)
the city randomly enforces the whole corner parking thing, w/ no seeming rhyme or reason.
the best thing to do is fight it; put the burden of proof on them! especially if they put a supposed measured distance on the ticket, I want to see the tape measure they used!

noel jones said...

This comment was emailed to me by Marty Jones:

"in regards to parking problem you had an anonymouse write in that the motor vehicle code says 30 ft from a corner is no parking. This may be well and good out in the country somewhere, but here in the city, like Judge Mike Koury told me when I went to fight an unjust ticket( parked on a yellow- no yellow in sight) and said the city ought to paint the curbs(or not write tickets) that "if all the curbs were painted yellow 30' from the corners, there wouldn't be any room left to park". And he was right. Still had to pay the ticket plus court fees. So go look at the " No Parking From Here to Corner" signs newly installed with yellow painted curbs on S. 7th. Way short of 30'. Does the city have its own rules that supercede the motor vehicle code? If so should they inform the parking enforcement division? I know how Carinne feels about this, What about the rest of you?"

Anonymous said...

I have lived almost my entire 46 years with on-street parking and neither my parents, nor myself have ever even attempted to "save" a parking space. In the winter, after a snow, in the summer, spring, or just can't do it. It's a public street with public parking. Is it obnoxious and rude for someone to take a space you just labored to shovel out...Yes! It is!'s just to darn bad for you and too darn bad for me. Find a home with off-street parking if you are going to become apoplectic every winter over parking spots that are really not "yours" in the first place.

n03l c@n eFf 0fF said...

If people had better things to do rather than attempt to govern their neighborhood in such a manner which seems to be a waste of time...when their vehicle had been parked in front of a stop sign illegally for 2 days in the yellow...maybe there would be no problem?

and did I mention....the said vehicle was still buried under feet of snow? So why was she not out there doing this manual labor rather than being a neighborhood snow nazi?

John M said...

Regarding the youth in this story, I doubt the police would have done nothing if he was as guilty as portrayed in this story. Seems like a bunch of crap