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That’s MY space! (not to be confused with MySpace)

January 29, 2007

This winter in Lancaster County, Pa. has been uneventful so far (knock on nearest wood surface) and we haven’t had a significant snowfall to speak of. Which makes me think fondly of this story…

snowed in car gets ticket (LNP picture)Al Tompkins from Poynter.org pointed out a story in the Rocky Mountain News that details the lengths people go to save their freshly plowed or shoveled-out parking spaces in cities where snow removal tends to bury cars in their spaces.

The witty headline, “Park place: Digging it out doesn’t give you monopoly,” tells of the struggle of city residents who save their spaces with “markers” like plastic lawn chairs to keep others out of the space that they shoveled out.

The problem is: It’s illegal in most places to do this, since the street is a public right-of-way.

More after the break, with pictures of some locally used “markers”…

From the article:

Detective Virginia Quinones, a police spokeswoman, said common sense and consideration can go a long way in these situations.

“The city street’s are public roadway,” she said. “When it’s a public street, you do not have reserved parking.”

Moving other people’s chairs from the right of way is not a crime, she said.

“It might certainly cause some ill feelings between the neighbors,” she said, “but it’s not a criminal act.”

Pachecano, 42, said if you shovel snow from a parking space in front of your home, it should be there when you need it.

“It’s not right that we cleared out our space and others just come and park,” she said. “It was a lot of work. My husband still has chunks of ice that we cleared on the back of his pickup truck, waiting for it to melt.”

Here in Lancaster County, it’s the same thing. Lancaster City residents traditionally use anything around the house or from their garage to mark their self-shoveled slice of streetside parking, even though it’s an illegal practice.

In 2004, the city begged residents to pick up their markers so the roads could be plowed after a record snowfall. And one marker cost the city a pretty penny.

From John Spidaliere’s story in the Jan. 30, 2004 Lancaster New Era:

The mayor said he understands that reserving the spot you cleared is a “time honored Lancaster tradition.’’ But “we can’t clear the snow with your chairs on the road,” (Mayor Charlie) Smithgall said.
Some chairs have been hauled away as crews try to clear the snow. Residents who lost their chairs are welcome to collect them at the streets department building, at the corner Hershey Avenue and Prince Street.

Last year, a cinder block used to reserve a space was sucked into a city snowblower. It destroyed the machine’s drive shaft, said the mayor, and cost the city thousands of dollars to fix.

Smithgall’s pleas were ironic to some, since the mayor’s neighbors accused him of the same practice the year before, using city police traffic cones to stake out his parking space.

In that instance, the police chief gave the mayor permission to do so, since he was considered an “emergency” worker during the city’s snow emergency. (Carrie Caldwell, Intelligencer-Journal, Feb. 22, 2003)

OK, fair enough … I’ll buy that.

Digging through the Lancaster Newspapers photo archive, I found a few parking markers that you may get a chuckle from (all from Richard Hertzler, New Era, February 2000):

  • This one on North Mulberry Street was at least courteous. It says “thanks.”
    parking markers 1
  • Some kid was very sad to lose their toy for the sake of parking on North Mulberry Street…
    parking markers 2
  • This driver got a warm welcome when he came home to North Shippen Street.
    parking marker 3
  • And finally, Chris Benner wants you to know that’s HIS space on North Shippen Street.
    parking marker 4

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