3.7 min readBy Published On: December 17th, 2020Categories: Features23 Comments on Snow Shoveling Etiquette

“Excuse me, but that was my spot….”

Are you annoyed by the winter habits of your neighbors?  Do you have a neighbor that abuses his/her parking space saver privilege, or are they a spot stealer, a non-shoveler or someone who abandons their car in the winter?  As you know, we all live in a town known for its tight-knit community and we should strive to get along with our neighbors.  You might have experienced some inconsiderate and maybe even some downright rude behavior during the winter – so we at Caught in Southie would like to help you out and offer some etiquette when it comes to shoveling.

Common Courtesies:

  • You should always shovel out in front of your house.  Clean off your stoop and the sidewalk area directly in front of your home.  Spread ice melt if the area is slippery.  Put your snow in neat piles near a tree or street corner.  If you own your home, not only is it a courtesy but it’s also the law and you can be fined for not shoveling. Shovel out in front of your house before you attempt to shovel out your car.
  • When shoveling out your car, form neat piles on the sidewalk (see above courtesy) in a common area. Don’t throw your discarded snow onto someone else’s car or home.  After you have successfully shoveled out your car and cleared off a section of the street – you can put out a space saver for 48 hours after a snow emergency has been lifted.  Don’t throw your snow in a bus stop or onto city streets or bury a hydrant. That’s not allowed.
  • Speaking of hydrants, with snow covering the ground in the neighborhood, the city is looking for good citizens to step up and shovel the hydrants in your neighborhood. Currently the responsibility lies with the Boston Fire Department but it’s nice to be nice so help out Boston’s bravest.  When volunteers pitch in, it helps uncover the hydrants more quickly and ultimately making the neighborhood safer!
  • If you live near the elderly, do the right thing and shovel out their sidewalk/stoop.  If everyone on your block joined together and shoveled their sidewalk, just think how neat and clear it would be for pedestrians.  Lord knows we don’t need pedestrians walking in the city streets because there isn’t a clear path.  It’s difficult enough maneuvering a car with all the snow piles so you don’t need to contend with pedestrians with no other option but to walk in the street.
  • Be respectful of your neighbors spot savers.  If someone put in the hard work to clear out their parking spot – they deserve to keep it for 48 hours after the snow emergency has been lifted.
  • If the 48 hours are up, give up the spot saver.  We all have been guilty of this – hanging on to prime real estate of our own personal parking spot, but fair is fair and usually the 48 hours is a good gage of how long we need to “own” our spot.  Kindly remove your space savers after the 48 hours are up.
  • Make an effort to shovel out your car.  We must admit how annoying it is to see a car encased in a catacomb of snow and ice long after the snow has stopped falling.  A week after a storm, and no effort to shovel out your car, and that’s just rude.  Why on earth do you have a car in the first place if you don’t need it?  You are taking up valuable parking spots in a neighborhood that has a very unbalanced car to parking spot ratio.  It’s rude and lazy and gives off the impression that you do not care about your property or your neighborhood.
  • Get to know your neighbors.  While you are out shoveling, why not introduce yourself or offer a smile – everyone likes a smile.  If you are walking to get a cup of coffee from the coffee shop, ask if your neighbor would like one.  Better yet, surprise them with one.  Be a good neighbor and your neighbor will usually reciprocate.  Just think, if you are friendly to them, they might be less likely to steal your spot and more likely to shovel your sidewalk.

The key elements to being a good neighbor is being polite and respectful of those around you.  Keep that in mind during this winter season and you’ll have a happy and peaceful neighborhood.


  1. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Bullet two: The 48 hour rule is not just in snow emergencies (declared by the City). It applies to all shovelable snow events. 

  2. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Bullet two: The 48 hour rule is not just in snow emergencies (declared by the City). It applies to all shovelable snow events. 

  3. Resident December 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    First, just because you have the flexibility to not need a car everyday to go to work does not mean that you don’t need a car at all.

    But really, I don’t see anything wrong with leaving your car where it is.  Why is it any different to leave the car where it is for a week during the winter than say, the summer? If you don’t need it, there is no sense driving around and looking for other people’s precious spots. The rationale that you give just isn’t cutting it.

    You know the mounds of snow that form on the streets, which take up precious parking spots? They are avoiding adding to those huge and expanding piles. I think it only bothers people because they make up in their mind that they deserve that spot.

  4. Huh? December 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    what does it matter if someone else doesn’t shovel out my car? It’s mine and if I don’t need it, I don’t need it. I do think shovelig out a car as soon as possible is best, for is makes life so much easier. But too bad if you don’t like the look of it.

  5. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    If everyone gave up their spots after 48 hours, it would be fair game.  Unfortunately, people hold on to them for weeks.  The biggest offender in my neighborhood is actually a cop.  He’s the same person that takes up 2 spots everytime he parks his car, so he can save a spot for his wife.  

  6. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Sometimes it snows when you’re on vacation and when you get back the snow has formed a nice 3 inch level of ice over your car.  I’d rather just wait for a nice 45 degree day to just melt it off then have to take an ice pick to my car. 

    Also, I live in Southie and I work downtown.  I use my car only on weekends, but I use it frequently and for far distances.  It’s cheaper and more convenient for me to take a bus to work M-F.  However it’s cheaper and more convenient for me to own a car – instead of say, use cabs or zipcars on the weekends.  Unless the rules change where I can’t park in a spot for more than X number of days, then I’m within my right to keep it there.  Besides, If I had moved it, I’d save it because even though I disagree with the practice, if I don’t, I won’t have a spot when I come back.  No one else should consider this rude, the only person I’m hurting is myself, because I can’t use it if I don’t shovel it. 

    It’s really is no one’s  business WHY a person couldn’t (away), wouldn’t (don’t want to) or can’t (disability)shovel out their car.


    Everything else makes sense – my neighbor and I shoveled out the the entire length of our street last night because we were already out there, and because it was a neighborly thing to do.  I’m sure it was nice for a few people to wake up this morning and realize the chore was already done! 


  7. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Why do I have to shovel out my car? I don’t really see how thats annoying you. I need my car on the weekends and for night school. School’s on break and it’s a Wednesday so why should I bother, shoveled or not the spot is still mine so what’s the difference? 

  8. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Wrong! As declared by the city of Boston – you get 48 hours after a snow emergency to use a space saver.  No emergency, no saving.  That is the rule. 

    You can say that it’s not Southie’s rule, but the reason the city even had to chime in on it was because no one in Southie can agree on the practice – so they weighed in.  Snow Emergency = 48 hours.  No Snow Emergency = no saving.  Period.

  9. Anonymous December 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm
    Disagree with you about shoveling out my car. I don’t need it everyday (I guess that means I shouldn’t have one) and when I need it I will shovel. I don’t think it’s laziness at all, I would rather walk than deal with the stress that comes with spot saving and the fear that I will accidentally take someone else’s spot. Thanks but I’d rather wait til Saturday when the snow melts to run errands, sorry if that annoys you.
  10. Anonymous December 19, 2013 at 3:20 am

    As far as not caring about your neigborhood goes…I think an unshoveled car is much more sightly than a broken chair or an old appliance that people litter the streets with in order to save their spaces.  Makes our neighborhood look like a garbage dump.  

    Hey everyone, just throw your crap in the street and call it a space saver.  Looks beautiful!  Now THAT’S rude!

  11. Anonymous December 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    YES!  This is great advice.  But you forgot to add space savers should NOT be used unless there is a snow emergency!  It took me an hour on Tuesday to find parking, because most people put out space savers on Tuesday morning, WHEN IT WASN’T EVEN SNOWING!  And today I still saw people using space savers, it’s Thursday people, you didn’t really dig out a spot all you did was brush some snow off of your car, I would know because I did the same thing!


    I did get a laugh out of the girl that was about my size struggling to carry a drum barrell construction cone to her car and the man tying a towel around a dining room chair to save his spot.  What’s the towel for?!

  12. Anonymous December 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    “City policies allow for space savers—a South Boston winter tradition—to be used to claim a shoveled parking spot for 48 hours after a snow emergency. Tuesday’s storm was not declared a snow emergency.”  -Boston Globe this morning article about the assault on East 8th st.

  13. Anonymous January 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I have neighbors that like to shovel snow onto my property. Nothing like their yards clean on a sunny day and mine buried under a tundra of white and dirty snow. They dont understand what my problem is

  14. Anonymous February 5, 2014 at 6:29 am
    No no no….. No way should a neighbor park every day and night in front of my home when there is plenty of space in front of their own!!!
  15. rosie from rozzie February 6, 2014 at 9:04 am
    After shoveling out my spot today I returned to find a neighbor parked in it. I am very thorough when I clear out my spot, even cleaning the street snow the plows leave behind so I can get in and out easy. So I find out who psrked in my spot and I told her that I would be happy to give up my spot if she helped me shovel out my spot. Then she walked away from me and slammed her door in my face…. I just finished placing ALL the snow from the sidewalk on top of her spot. I guess she can claim it now that she has to shovel it!
  16. Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 1:48 am

    my issue with the people that dont shovel their spot is that it cuts into the road and makes them harder to drive down specifically on the two ways streets (the #'s not the letters)
    I don't care if your car stays there all year, I do care if the snow impedes the traffic

  17. Courtney January 28, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    We have a shared driveway with our neighbor. Yesterday he was out snowblowing his half while we were out breaking our backs try to SHOVEL out our half. He was blowing the snow onto our side making it impossible for us. He spent maybe 10 minutes on his side while we spent nearly 3 hours….Oh and not to mention we shoveled out the mound of snow the snow plowers left by his car that was on the street. WHAT A JERK!

  18. Anonymous January 29, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I spent about 10 hours shoveling my spot out from this 2015 Blizzard. My back is now out. I will not be obeying the 48 hour rule. I clean my spot down to bare pavement. Most of my neighbors (young and able) shoveled the minimum amount it takes to get out of their spots. I will put my spot saver out until they clean their areas.  A suggestion for after a storm such as this one……. Have a set day and time that everyone must move their cars (like street cleaning) and have a plow come down the street plowing to the curb removing all of the snow. This way we would not need space savers and our streets will be free of snow. It would eliminate a lot of back breaking work and fueds over spots. 

  19. Anonymous January 30, 2015 at 2:53 am

    First snowstorm of the winter and we come home to realize someone stole our cone. They didn't take our spot at least! So we put an old trash can out instead and come back to see someone chucked it on top of a snow pile. Really people?!?! 

  20. Joe January 30, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Are spots saved on East Broadway? Visiting friends this weekend, and wanted to park and stay over night?  Really dont want to piss anyone off and dont want tires slashed.   They Like on K street, from what they told me, everything is "saved" on K street… any advice? 

  21. BpstpmHolly February 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    You should try living in Brighton.  At night, neighbors steal cones from prstinely shoveled parking spaces (6 hours of shoveling out from a corner space at the bottom of a long hill on a very busy street corner is a lot of shoveling for a  60+ disabled female).  They take the cones, park in teh spot, move the cone to their shovled space to preserve it for their guests.   Each of the numerous tripple deckers out here house at least 4 cars.  Also, in the middle of the night the property owners will  pay private plow and shoveling companies to remove *all* of the snow, every inch of it, from their driveways, walkways, sidewalks, cars, steps etc. who then plow it into the street and when theyt have a big enough mass, move it up against our side of the street onto and surrounding our vehicles. If they've done a sloppy job the City helps them by plowing the remainder of the snow against our cars . The city plows must be driven by family membes who'd grown up here.  I know that Public Works  and City Inspectionsal Services employess many residents who ahve lived here all their lives.  Today they've gotten so brazen (because  the City looks the other way) that they're out en mass with snow blowers which are blwing  their snow onto our side after many folks on this side of the street had finally dug out from under our own snow, sidewalk plowed etc. which we shovel into our yards.  Ironically, my $1000 propery tax payment cleared today –  should we really be responsible for paying to have our neightors mess removed from our side of the street ? The catch basins located on this side of the street are under 10' of snow which melts into our basement ,  backs up under our vehicles creating rust and mechanical problems.  The handicapped ramps are burried by neighbors yard snow and the cops say (1) even though it's illegal there's nothing to be done (2) It's not illegal.  Today I watched in horror  as Public Works vehicles politely waited until the snow blowing idiots walked back and forth across the street as the neighbors removed snow from their yards onto our cars.  According to teh police it's *not* illegal to shovel snow from your yard into the street as long as you move it to someone elses side of the street regardless that we cannot see around the 12' snow mounds as wel attempt to cross streets.  Reasoning :  "everyone does it'.   I'm in an HP , living on a fixed income but have spent  $100 to be shoveled out from under public sidewalk and walkways on our side of the street as well as from under city plowed snow. Today I learned that I'm also responsible for removing the snow which  the neighbors dumped onto our cars and sidewalks. I will never get out , have canceled numerous doctors appts. becasuse I can't walk to public transportation when sidewalks are uncer 4' of snow and the streets are impassible, bus stops burried , etc.  I walk with a cane.  The Ride won't help because I own a 14 y/o , mechanically challanged car  parked in an HP spot but is inaccessible burried under 6-12' of neighbors yard waste.     

  22. BostonHolly February 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    So, would you mind comeing to help me shoiveling my car out which I cannot function without ?  At least I know you won't be parking in the [ HP]  space :-). 

  23. Anonymous February 17, 2015 at 2:09 am

    I live in Brighton in a residential area. I have maintained shoveling and cleaning my parking spot directly in front of my house through the 3 bad blizzards thus far in 2015. My street has hardly any shoveled spots because it is a main road and if you even begin shoveling you are up against a 7 foot wall of snow consisting of condensed ice, and heavy plowed snow. Considering my consistent maintenance throughout each storm the job has been fairly managable, nonetheless tiring and back breaking. If you do not have a driveway you are out of luck and must shovel either way. I would like to emphasize again that even today on february 16th, days after the last storm I may have had one of 5 shoveled spots on my street. So as you can probably tell what I'm building up to is that some inconsiderate jerk decides to move my spot marker and take my spot. Now I have done my research. According to the unwritten rules of snowstorm etiquette, one is only at liberty to reserve one's spot for up to 48 hours. Although this practice is not a legality and even outlawed in some areas. The severity of this years snowfall and the fact that my street has 7 foot walls of plowed snow detering anyone from actually putting forth any effort of shoveling a spot, some exceptions must be made. That being said, I know no legal recourse will result in the matter. I do however have the right mind to flatten the 4 tires on a certain ragedy 90's ish front bumper missing honda civic sitting in front of my house right now. So moving forward as I get into my house fuming because my car is now illegally parked with the hazzards on I decide that my only option at this point unless I would like to enjoy a brisk 15 minute walk every day to my car is to shovel another spot across the street. You best believe that whilst shoveling with steaming ears and in hopes that the owner of the car that has been parked in my spot for several hours now returns to their vehicle. If this were to occur I can't be sure of the outcome. Fortunately I have successfully cleared a new spot.

    Ps. Shovel your own spot because under these exact circumstances that person probably would'nt be as lucky. ;)

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