Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your Own Private Street Parking

I have noticed that people are still using orange cones to reserve public parking spots in the streets (have noticed them specifically around the 3400 block of 14th St). Now I appreciate that during Snowmageddon, if you dig out a space you should reap the rewards from that effort. However, the blizzard is over and the parking reservations should have gone along with it....Is there anything we can do?

So goes a message on the Columbia Heights listserv.

Hotly debated during Snowmageddon was the question:  If you dig your car out of the snow, do you have a moral right to that space and can you "reserve" it by putting chairs, brooms, tables, cones, replicas of the Eiffel tower or other objects in the space?

There are arguments pro and con. On the one hand, it's definitely illegal to claim a public parking space as your own.  No ambiguity about that. And parking spaces belong to everyone: Parking spaces belong to the people. (OMG that sounds hokey, but it's true.)

And yet, when you spend an hour or more digging out your car and turning what was a glacier into a place that car can roll into and out of, when you did what the city couldn't, don't you deserve something for that? Don't you deserve to call that space your home? And what happens if you come home and somebody else is inhabiting your space? Then you have to dig for another hour or so. Is that fair?

What should the system be? On clear sky days, there's really no moral basis for somebody to steal a public space. But if and when Snowmageddon #2 arrives this winter, we should have a law in place that allows people to reserve a parking space that they've dug out for 48 hours after six or more inches of snow has fallen. A reasonable compromise that would encourage people to dig out their cars and get the city back moving again after a major snow storm.


  1. Move the cones off to the side. If anything is done to your car then file a police report. There are no reserved spots when it is a public spot.

  2. Do you have a 'moral right' to a shoveled out parking spot you paid for with sweat equity? No. However, you have a 'karma right' for about 72 hours and then that is it. And, yes, I know that my karma will still get me ticketed should MPD decide to ticket, but that would probably signify that they are ticketing people for not shoveling their sidewalks, which I am all in favor of.

    I am seriously considering buying a snow blower and removing snow on my street myself this year. I might even plow people’s cars out and have that pay for the machine. But then DC might make me get a business license.

  3. I just saw a truck do this today on M Street in Georgetown, across from Georgetown Park! The driver pulled out into the traffic lane (which was blocked anyway by other delivery vehicles, as is so often the case) and placed an orange cone in his parking place. The nerve! I agree - move the cones! Just because someone's got a lot of chutzpah doesn't mean they have to get away with it!!!