Saving parking spaces is thuggery

February 11, 2010

The Sun reported Wednesday that Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake says she will not enforce the ban on saving public parking spaces with household goods. Ms. Rawlings-Blake seems to be under the delusion that this is a Baltimore tradition. On the contrary, this asinine practice is a feature of snow storms in cities and suburbs nationwide.

I shovel snow from around my vehicle to get it out of the space. Anyone that thinks this entitles them to exclude others from that space has a deep lack of respect for property. If the space is a public street, then you have no title to it. If the space is a private lot, then you only have title to it if it is granted to you by the owner in an enforceable contract. If you want a space to call your own, then you must buy it, like everyone who buys a home with a garage or a driveway or a row house with an assigned space that is written as theirs.

The real truth is that only people who are willing to be obnoxious to their neighbors enough so that they intimidate them into moving their vehicles from where their chair once was can enforce their space saving nonsense. This is simple thuggery. I, for one, haven't the time to go banging on doors, nor do I have so little respect and decency as to claim what is not mine.

When it snows, I usually have to go out and plow. That is part of my job, so I am not around to save a space with my vehicle, shovel it out (although I have to shovel it out of some lot once my shift is over), and then place a chair as claim to use of it through the duration of the storm. So when I get home from work, I can't park because all spaces are occupied by chairs or the snow people kindly shoveled into the empty spaces to get their cars out. What about other residents who have to work in the snow -- police, firefighters, nurses, doctors, volunteers at various organizations, or snow removal personnel? Do the residents know who all these people are and save spaces for them? Probably not often.

People who try to claim spaces with household goods are bereft of respect and common sense. They want something free at the expense of others. It is as much of a tradition in Baltimore as robbery. It is also a tradition wherever people want something scarce, specifically parking, at the expense of everyone else.

I will not go so far as to say that the city or any municipality should expend scarce resources to battle this phenomenon. However, if you need a space and a chair is there, move it. If a chair is in the way of your plow, plow it. If you think you need a dedicated space, buy one.

Gavin A. Kitchens, Columbia

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