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After city crews leave, the space savers return

A bed headboard that was used as a space saver was carried off by Vladimir Diaz in East Boston.
A bed headboard that was used as a space saver was carried off by Vladimir Diaz in East Boston. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Trash collectors rolled through East Boston early Monday morning, seizing lawn chairs, joint compound buckets, and traffic cones as the city launched its offensive against parking space savers. But a few hours later, it was hard to tell the trucks had ever been there.

A new wave of markers stood boldly in the gaps in the snowbanks of Eagle Hill — a clear challenge to Boston’s effort to return neighborhoods to normal after a month of unprecedented weather.

“I think because there is so much snow, and people feel embattled, some people will keep using them,” said Eben Sorkin, who has lived in the area for five years. “But I think the mayor is right to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ There has to be a limit to these things and it is public space.”

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh directed public works crews to begin treating space savers as trash starting Monday. Workers will remove them on regular collection rounds, and Walsh urged Bostonians to relinquish their reserved spots.

“I’m asking residents to respect their neighbors and the Public Works crews removing space savers after the reasonable time period has ended and our snow is beginning to melt,” he said in a statement.

But as the crews passed through East Boston after another fresh snowfall, some complained that they should be able to keep the fruits of their labor.

Eric Galdames, who was parked on Monmouth but lives on nearby Marion Street, pulled his car out, cleared it off, and placed a milk crate in his space, despite the news that trash collectors would scoop it up.

“I know it’s going to be gone when I get back,” he said. “But I think the city should let people leave them out longer. These people around here — they’re mean,” he said, referring to reports of vandalism over parking disputes.

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Nearby, George Haskins ran out and pulled his neighbor’s orange cone from a garbage truck.

“I didn’t want them to take it. It’s . . . ridiculous,” said Haskins, who has lived on Monmouth Street for almost two decades. “The city hasn’t even cleared out the snow! I have spent more than $250 to clear out my space because I have a bad heart.”

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Haskins and John Burton also saved a bucket for a neighbor, and said they would continue to use space savers.

Complicating matters for the city, many residents hadn’t left their houses for the day when trash collectors came through around 7 a.m., giving some the opportunity to secure their spots once the crews passed.

Giuseppe Passanisi said people in East Boston are “like eagles” when it comes to vacant spots. “They come right in and they take it right away,” he said, making a swooping gesture.

He said the city should ease up and let people keep space savers until spring. Cleaning his car with a broom, he said, “This year it was really bad. They should let them stay longer.”

This winter, the city has been more lenient on the practice of holding spaces, giving people much longer than the normal 48 hours after snowstorms. Boston is still not ticketing for space savers — even when workers seize them — as code enforcement staffers focus on getting sidewalks clear and passable.

Rosana Souza, on Glendon Street, cleaned off her car outside her house. She said she was OK with the ban on space savers, because the streets need to be fully plowed.

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“I think it’s great. It’s a chance to clean it all up. I hope everyone understands that. It’s fine with us,” she said.

Trash collectors Vladimir Diaz and Arturo Flores said they were just carrying out their instructions.

Scooping up chairs and other space savers on West Eagle Street, Flores said, “We have to do it. That’s it.”

Diaz said he gets nervous about confrontation with residents. One year, when he was collecting trash in South Boston, he said, someone came after him with a knife when he took away a space saver.

A man in a red minivan pulled up to Diaz to ask him if he was collecting space savers. When Diaz told him yes, the driver said he was going to repark his car, stay until they passed, and then put his cones back in place. “What can we do?” said Diaz.

Diaz, who has been a trash collector for eight years, said he had seen it all.

“You see this? They use anything,” he said, showing off a foam cooler filled with sand and ice. “They think we won’t take it away, but we have to take it away.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.