It's time to stop saving parking spaces
OK, it's been eight days since the last of the big snowflakes fell on Baltimore and now many feel it's time to get on with life and stop saving parking spaces with chairs and other furniture. I took these pictures on West 37th Street in Hampden.
Yes, the mayor suspended enforcement but now her spokesman tells me the respite is over. While cops aren't ready to fan out and slap the cuffs on homeowners saving spaces with ironing boards, officials are urging a quiet, respectful retreat.
"At this point, the mayor believes that people should do the right thing, be good neighbors and take the lawn chairs off the streets," the spokesman for Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said Thursday.
There are reports that things are getting out of control -- neighbors fighting neighbors over saved spots and who cleared them and who has the right to them. Many aren't even saving spots they've cleared anymore, they're saving spots someone else has cleared, and angry citizens are taking it out with threats and force.City Councilman James B. Kraft said he has received several complaints of vandalism over parking and he’s urging the mayor to face the public and announce a firm deadline for removing chairs from the streets. But he stressed police have better things to do than "be out there writing citations for this."
"I know the frustration of people out there," the lawmaker said, noting he saw three streets on Thursday "that have not seen a plow. How do you tell people who dug out their cars that they can’t save five spaces?" Just the same, Kraft said, "Folks have to realize it’s time to bring the chairs in. We can’t have a Hatfield and McCoy enmity that can come out these neighborhood situations."
Residents have taken to Facebook to sound off on the issue and argue with each other -- far better then fistfights in Hampden, but still not the image we want. Technically, blocking a public street carries a $140 fine and two points on your license.
City police tell me they're urging officers to use common sense and not start a blanket ticketing or enforcement program. They have better things to do. It would be nice if residents banded together, like they did when the snow first fell, and decided street by street what the rules should be. Housing inspectors could also go out an issue citations or simply seize the potted plants and chairs used as place-holders.
The frustration is understandable. Snow still covers streets and blocks roads and some city streets haven't seen a plow since the last snowstorm in December. And city didn't exactly follow through and tow cars from snow emergency routes and plow them as promised. So people are angry with the city and with each other.
But it seems it's time to bring the furniture inside.