scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Bostonians to fight for staked-out parking

Many Bostonians say they plan to keep their savers right where they are. Pictured: Chairs were used as space savers in the South End this winter.Sean Proctor/Globe Staff/Sean Proctor

Bostonians in some neighborhoods say they plan on digging in their heels by keeping their space savers despite the mayor’s announcement to remove the parking spot holders starting Monday.

“I’m not going to take it out,” said South Boston resident Matthew Wall, 30, who removed his orange cone before pulling into a space on West Sixth Street. “I don’t understand why if we put that much work into it we can’t keep the spot until the snow is gone.”

And with up to 4 more inches of snow on the way — on top of the more than 100 inches of snowfall this winter — many residents plan to protest by keeping their savers right where they are.


“If I’m going to pay $40 to have this dug out it’s gonna be mine — believe me!” said 73-year-old Arnold Gatto, who lives on East Sixth Street in South Boston, where parking savers will be removed Friday. “It’s always been you have [two] days. It’s supposed to snow tonight. I should have [two] more days.”

Gatto, who drives a red Dodge Dart and has a handicapped space, said he intends to keep his recycling bin — which has played a dual role this winter as a space saver — in the spot that he has paid to have shoveled out multiple times.

“If the mayor can dig out all of Boston for a Patriots parade, well [he can] dig out all of Southie so we can have our parade, too,” Gatto added.

Public works will begin removing space savers during regularly scheduled neighborhood trash collection starting Monday in the North End, Beacon Hill, Eagle Hill, Wellington Hill, Oak Square, and Fort Hill.

An assortment of orange cones, trash bins, boxes, folding chairs, stools, tables, and even a decorative holiday reindeer claimed blocks of spaces in South Boston that residents had spent several back-breaking hours digging out.


The mayor’s call to remove those holders has come too soon, some say, adding that the city needs to step up its snow-removal effort before butting in on a longstanding tradition.

“I think he should hold off,” said Evan Butler, 31, who also lives on West Sixth Street. “Until the city removes the snow and actually frees up parking spots people should be able to save their spots.”

Mounds of snow piled 6 feet high sat on West Fifth Street near E Street covering at least two potential parking spaces, a familiar sight throughout the city.

“The mayor should be doing a lot more to get the mounds,” said Kelly Armstrong, 36, who lives on West Fourth Street. “What about the neighborhoods? I’ve seen so many almost accidents and people get hurt, fall on ice, and I don’t think enough has been done.”

The city has been working hard to remove the towering mountains of snow and melts 950 truckloads nightly, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at a public event Sunday at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Walsh has said the savers were to be used temporarily — no longer than 48 hours after a major storm, but many of the claimed-for spaces have been held since the first blizzard. And even with more snow on the way, he said he intends to move forward with Monday’s space saver collection.

“[Parking is] difficult right now in the city and in the neighborhoods it will continue to be difficult probably for the next month,” Walsh said Sunday during the event. “It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be a thaw any time coming to the city. So, we’re going to be living with these large storm piles for a while.”


But some residents are worried that removing parking savers will just cause problems among neighbors, who, saver or not, believe the space is theirs. The controversial practice has sometimes turned violent, resulting in vandalism including broken windows, slashed tires, and worse when drivers park in the claimed spaces.

“If we leave and put our saver out, the saver gets taken [by the city], someone else takes our spot and we have to take someone else’s spot.  . . . We worry about what people are going to do to our car,” said Nathan Kono, 26, who lives on East Fourth Street. “It’s a little scary.”

Kono, who has used a white laundry basket to claim a space for his silver Mazda CX5, said he’ll take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to whether he will leave his parking saver in the spot.

“I have a feeling people will keep using their space savers here and just ignore it,” he said.

That’s what James Ross, 52, plans to do.

“Damn right and that’s not being selfish,” Ross said. “I’m the one who cleared it. [The mayor] didn’t think about the thousands of people in this city who have a spot because they cleared it out. It’s not fair.”



South End bans parking spot savers

South End space-saver ban has first victim

Editorial: Boston should have clear rules for space savers

Video: The informal rules of parking in Southie

Jan Ransom can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @Jan_Ransom.