The city of Boston will begin removing space savers, used to mark off parking spots that residents have shoveled out, on Monday, the mayor’s office announced.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the Department of Public Works will pick up the controversial markers, which have ranged from chairs to tables to buckets, during the regularly scheduled neighborhood trash collection next week.
“The City of Boston has seen an unprecedented amount of snow in the past month, impacting many aspects of our daily lives, including making parking difficult,” Walsh said Wednesday in a statement. “If you spend hours digging out your parking space, you should have access to that space for a reasonable time period. 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.”
The mayor said that space savers are to be used on a short-term basis, with 48 hours as a guideline.
In South Boston there have been a number of incidents of vandalism to cars that parked in shoveled-out spaces.
Gary Murad, president of St. Vincent’s Lower End Neighborhood Association, expects reaction to the mayor’s directive to be mixed.
“I think people who have saved spaces are going to be very upset,” he said. “But I think people who are not lucky enough to have a space at the time will probably be pleased, because parking spaces are very limited and competitive in general any time of year.”
Murad said he stands by Walsh’s decision.
“I sincerely hope nobody reacts in a way that harms other people’s property,” he said. “It’d be a shame and disappointing for everybody. [Walsh] is the mayor and is responsible for all the people in the city, and the parking is public space. How long can you tolerate the privatization of the spaces?”
Boston’s South End neighborhood, which has a pilot program that effectively bans space savers, has been challenged through the winter by similar acts of vandalism.
Stephen Fox, the chair of South End Forum, an umbrella group of community and business associations in the neighborhood, said the pickup is a good development.
“As a Bostonian, I’m truly delighted to hear that the city has decided not to use space savers,” Fox said. “This is what we’ve been doing all winter. Every Tuesday and Friday our trash contractor picks up any space saver in the street.”
Fox said he thinks vandals are less likely to strike as a result of space-saver anger if they know city officials have picked up the marker.
“From what I can tell, 85 to 95 percent of the South End has remained space-saver free, but there is a small group of people who have continued to use them,” he said. “If your space saver is missing in the South End, in all likelihood it was not removed by the person parked in your space; it was removed by a trash collector or a neighborhood association person.”
Corey Allen, of the Cummins Valley Neighborhood Association, which encompasses parts of Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roslindale, said he is concerned that removing space savers without clearing more snow could raise tensions, adding that Walsh’s extension of the generally accepted 48-hour rule earlier this winter had people feeling “relieved.”
“If the space savers are taken away without more snow being cleared, I’m a little concerned that may cause some conflict,” he said. “But I do have confidence in the mayor and the DPW.”