Neighbors for Neighbors

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Snow Removal Etiquette (or Lack of)

I get it.... we have A LOT of snow, and when digging out our cars, we're  not supposed to dump the snow back in the middle of the street. Again, I get it!!


But is it really a good (or nice) alternative to dump your snow next to or on top of the car on the other side of the street?  Is Jamaica Plain SOOO tight that there's no where else to dump snow?  Not cool!!  See pics below.  This really happens!



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Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on February 9, 2011 at 11:27pm

"Shovel out just a bit more thatn "your share" and we wouldn't have this problem."
Comment by Amanda Phillips Kennedy on February 9, 2011 at 10:13pm
I live on a tiny dead end street off of another small street. The spots have been saved since the first snowstorm this year! People have gotten angry at each-other. Yesterday the city came and picked up some of the markers. It was like a breath of fresh air. Tonight I parked in an empty spot. Late at night one of my neighbors that I really like a lot rang my bell to say I took their spot. I did not move their spot and my kids and husband down with the flu were woken up. I let my neighbors know that I did not move the marker, that I know that the city picked up markers yesterday and let them know that there is in fact a 48 hour rule. I then offered to move my car regardless in an effort to make my relations with people that I like remain smooth. They declined but seemed unhappy. This all sucks! Honestly we need to learn how to talk about this with each other and the city needs to enforce the rule. Without enforcement it will be hard to change. I don't mind snow but do not like hostility. I suggest that we start by letting our neighbors know of the rule and calling the city for enforcement. I also echo the sentiments of those earlier about where we put the snow. Shovel out just a bit more thatn "your share" and we wouldn't have this problem.
Comment by Matt on January 31, 2011 at 6:16pm

I don't see someone marking a spot for 2 days on a space they did the work to shovel out is a threat against anyone.  It seems like a lot of people are taking it as a personal insult, when it's just a small reward someone did the work to deserve.  I've seen more half-ass shoveled out spots that people leave, which is unfair to those who do the hard work.


If everyone did their part in shoveling out sidewalks and parking spaces we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

Comment by Terrell Gibbs on January 31, 2011 at 5:42pm
Matt, I simply am not going to stand by and let people make public threats against their neighbors. Not only is it illegal and antisocial, but seeing those markers causes people who do the public-spirited thing by leaving spaces they have shoveled open to all to feel victimized. I subscribe to the "broken window" theory here, in which public manifestations of antisocial behavior tend to encourage more of the same. Your post has reinforced my conviction that removing them is the right thing to do.
Comment by Matt on January 31, 2011 at 3:45pm
I agree that threatening and retribution is horrible.  However it is also realistic.  Adding to this problem (by removing someone else's marker) without actually taking their spot, only adds to the problem.
Comment by Terrell Gibbs on January 31, 2011 at 3:43pm

Matt has articulated precisely the reason I move markers--because I regard a marker as an implicit threat of vandalism or even violence against one's neighbors. I want the sort of criminal who would vandalize a neighbor's car for parking in his illegally claimed space to have to wonder if his marker was removed by somebody like me or Quinn and he is victimizing an innocent person (and I move markers routinely, so there's a pretty good chance that it was). Everybody looking for a parking space had to shovel out their cars, too. Shoveling doesn't make you special or entitle you to squatter's rights on public property. The fact that the city doesn't choose to enforce the law in the first couple of days when they are still trying to get the snow out of the middle of the street does not make it legal to threaten others for parking in a public way where they are legally entitled to park. 

Comment by Quinn on January 31, 2011 at 3:04pm

Why is everyone named Matt?

I've said all I want regarding space savers and I stand by it.I think Mattynabib's situation is unusual, most folks don't have to compete with an auto repair place for a spot. Just their neighbors, who also dug their cars out for hours lest they could not have been out driving.

But there is an app as well as a website for reporting unshoveled sidewalks and abandoned cars. I don't know how great they are about walks, but they do respond to reports of abandoned vehicles. The app is Citizens Connect, search for it on Droid Marketplace or iTunes. The website is here. I'd recommend talking to your neighbors before reporting them though, you never know if someone is disabled or in need of shoveling help.

Comment by Mattynabib on January 31, 2011 at 2:55pm

Amen, Matt. Thanks for that bit of sanity. I'd say the people who don't attend to their sidewalks are a MUCH bigger public hazard than space-savers, and I haven't heard of anyone doing much to enforce that.


Or, for that matter, doing much about derelict or unregistered cars that get parked and left in spots for sometimes weeks and months on end. That's a live issue for us, too, since the house directly across the street from us appears to run an under-the-table auto repair shop out of their front yard, and more often than not those cars end up parked - thoughtlessly - on the streets, sometimes literally for months at a time. One of them sat directly in front of our house, on the sidewalk, taking up TWO spaces, for weeks, regardless of our calls to the police. Another one, parted on the street, actually blew up! But no matter how many disturbances there are, no matter how long the cars sit around for or are reported, not much seems to come of it.


If we shovel a spot out and leave it untended for even a short time, it will likely be (and has been) filled in short order by a car that probably does not belong there and may not move for a long time.


How neighborly is that? In the face of that and other challenges I noted previously I think we are well within our rights to try and preserve the space we shovel out along our fairly well-tended and walkable sidewalk. Anyone who arbitrarily decides otherwise, without knowing anything about the situation or the neighborhood, is stepping way out of line and is only adding to the problem.

Comment by Matt on January 31, 2011 at 1:52pm

I will gladly answer your question, Quinn.


Neighbors "reserve" public spots because they take the time to shovel them out.  It's snowed what... 5 or 6 times in the past month?  This past time, I had to chip out ice and show from around my car, which took me approximately 1.5-2 hours.  I think I'm entitled to park there for 48 hours following a snow emergency.  When that time period is up, I gladly move my parking space marker.  Fair? Fair.  Do you own a car?  Have you spent hours shoveling that car out of snow?  Also, while these spots are public, the city of Boston isn't shoveling all of the parking spots out, correct?  I am.  Your neighbors are.  Furthermore, according to, all space savers must be removed 48 hours after the end of a snow emergency.  This means that the City of Boston allows us to do this. It's up to them, not you.  The city of Boston required that I shovel off my sidewalk, or I get fined.  I understand that - but many of your neighbors don't.  Why don't you bring that issue up?  If I was in a wheelchair, I couldn't get very far in this city right now.

My second line of reasoning - in response to "leveling the playing field."  You don't know me.  You know know the back story or situation of every space saver you move.  Please don't use works like "selfish" for neighbors you don't know.  Maybe the person who marked that space also shoveled their neighbor's walkway.  You have no idea.  Did you shovel your neighbor's walkway? You are entitled to your opinion, but I don't think it's your place to 1) judge everyone because of a space-saver and 2) seek your own little revenge at the expense of your neighbors.  All you're doing is adding to the existing parking issues people are having.  That, in my opinion, is irresponsible, selfish, and vengeful in and of itself.  Why would you get involved in something that isn't your business?  If you did not leave something to mark your space and you don't intend to take the space after the 48 hour period in which we are allowed to mark spaces, then LEAVE IT ALONE. Please, I'm asking as a neighbor.

I don't think you realize the consequences of your actions.  If I leave something to mark my spot (again, within the timeframe that the city of Boston allows), and I see it is moved, I assume the person who is now parked in my spot moved and took it. But maybe it was you, or some other neighbor who moved it.  If I were a jerk and I wanted to slash tired or seek revenge on the person who innocently parked there, wouldn't you feel somewhat responsible for that?  You should.  This is what I mean by exacerbating the problem.  When I put it that way, I also I think moving space markers without taking the spot is passive aggressive.


I understand why you don't agree with it.  I can see why it's annoying.  But since I've spent hours and hours shoveling out my property and my car in the street, please allow me the one little benefit of saving my space as a reward. Please, respect your neighbors. Luckily this type of weather is only severe part of the year and things can go back to normal.  Unless you come up with sound reasons to justify what you're doing, I think just leaving it alone is a better and more responsible option than getting involved.

Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on January 31, 2011 at 1:07pm

What if everyone who shoveled, where possible - given there is yard to put the snow, moved the snow from around the car into off the street completely?

While it's "easier" to shove the snow into piles infront of an behind cars at first, it certainly make it "harder" to deal with in the long run. 

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