It is one of the most controversial, and sometimes highly personal, debates in wintertime Boston: What rights does a citizen have to a parking spot he or she has liberated from the snow? Although snowy winter streets can bring out survivalist instincts when it comes to parking, holding a piece of public property with an orange cone, lawn chair, or box is a basic violation of Boston’s snow etiquette — no matter how long it took to shovel out.
Now, South End civic leaders have upped the ante with an announcement that the practice of space saving will not be tolerated in that neighborhood. That’s a step in the right direction, but it’s important, in an increasingly crowded city, for Boston to adopt such clear regulations for all neighborhoods. Mayor Marty Walsh has expressed empathy for those who work to shovel out their spots. Indeed, snow parking regulations in the city’s website state that residents shouldn’t use space savers more than 48 hours after a snow emergency has been lifted, a guideline that the previous administration favored as well and one that tacitly accepts space savers during those 48 hours. In the Menino era, space saving was generally tolerated as a practical necessity, though the late mayor would at times tighten the reins on the practice by sporadically deploying crews to clear out errant lawn chairs after the deadline. The city should clearly ban space savers and enforce the rules consistently.
“Nobody wants this nastiness. It’s antithetical to the neighborly approach we’re trying to encourage,” Stephen Fox, co-chair of the community group South End Forum, told the Globe. “South Enders believe that the streets are a public resource and nobody has a right to claim them.” It’s not entirely clear there will be the resources to enforce this ban, but give the South End credit for trying to adopt a more civil approach.