Parking is for public, time to put stop to dibs

By Editorial Board

Laundry baskets, orange cones, lawn chairs or milk crates-whatever it is-it’s time to go.

Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation recently said it would begin cracking down on the long-honored tradition of dibs-where people claim parking spots on the street by placing random objects in the street after shoveling snow out of a spot. But even weeks after a snowstorm, people continue to claim spots.

Although the penalties are little-to-none, and there’s no way the Department of Streets and Sanitation could clear out every spot in the city, people should take this as a cue: a few days after a snowfall is somewhat understandable, but claiming dibs a few weeks afterward is ridiculous.

The city has said Streets and Sanitation workers will remove dibs placeholders and possibly throw them away, but aside from this, penalizing drivers is next to impossible.

Although there are inadvertent risks to innocent car owners by removing dibs-such as an unknowing motorist parking in a spot where the city has removed the dibs, only to have their car vandalized-it’s time for people to realize this old tradition has no merit in these trying times. People shouldn’t be vandalizing cars over removed dibs anyway.

Vandalism is against the law and dibs are against the law. When a person places an object on a street or path and leaves it there, it’s called an obstruction of a public way.

There are many laws that can be broken with little consequence, such as jaywalking or spitting on the wrong side of a sidewalk, but saving a spot is different. It’s claiming something that isn’t owned by anyone but the public, when it could be used by someone else in need. It wouldn’t be surprising if more drivers were inconvenienced by someone else’s dibs than there are people who claim dibs themselves. And those drivers, who can’t find an “un-dibbed” spot, are then encouraged to claim a spot for themselves. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to stop.

Officials have advised communities to gather with their neighbors and shovel out the parking spaces together, but this isn’t completely realistic. It would be a nice idea, but the city can’t expect people to be this neighborly. Drivers need to realize that if their spot gets taken, they can shovel out another one, and in a few days, the whole block will be shoveled.

This is the city; it’s not the suburbs. Just as city folk can’t expect to have neighbors gather to shovel out spots like they might be able to in the suburbs-city folk can’t expect a parking spot of their own. It’s a package deal. Suburbanites who work in the city have to drive hour-long commutes, while Chicagoans have a shorter drive but a longer walk from their parking spot.

Chicago has public parking for just that-the public. If people want to start getting spots of their own, it’s time to start paying a monthly bill to own a spot or rent garage space.

The dibs tradition is getting out of hand. It’s time for a new generation to step up to the plate and obey the law, even when there is no penalty for breaking it. Everyone needs to do their part by not letting the tradition get out of hand and using their judgment to respect their neighbors and the law. Public parking is for the public-period.