2.6 min readBy Published On: January 6th, 2015Categories: News27 Comments on Spot savers – yay or nay?

So apparently the South End is banning the use of spot savers during snowstorms this winter.  After a successful pilot program last winter initiated by the South End Forum (an organization of businesses and neighborhood groups, it’s been decided that spot savers will not be allowed to hold a parking spot no matter what.  It’s a zero tolerance policy.  The South End will be the first neighborhood in the city to ban this age old Boston custom and it has the mayor’s blessing.

According to an article written by Billy Baker in the Globe, one of the catch phrases of the anti-spot saver campaign is “we don’t do ‘dibs’ here.”   “Dibs?”  No one in Boston uses the word dibs in reference to a spot saver.  That term originated in Chicago so right away it’s a red flag to us that someone new to town came up with this genius idea.  

It’s optimistic to think that people will be civilized enough to shovel out a spot for hours after a giant Nor’Easter and then just happily give it up.  In Southie, this is never gonna fly based on the following scenarios:

Boston was hit with a foot of snow, you spend a Saturday afternoon shoveling out your car.  You leave to go food shopping and come back an hour later to find that a car with Connecticut plates is now in the spot.  

After waking up early to be a responsible citizen, you shovel out your car before work.  Upon returning from work, someone else is parked in the spot.  The car remains there for two weeks.

You have a toddler and an infant.  You shovel out your car that is parked on your block.  You leave to drop kids at daycare and go to work.  You return with kids in tow only to find that the spot is gone and the only available spot is four blocks away.

After the third snowstorm in a row in a week and a half, you spend hours shoveling out your car and leave the spot so clear of snow, you can see the asphalt.  The jabroni with the big pick up truck who lives up the street just plows out of the spot without shoveling at all.  Ironically, he ends up in the spot you shoveled out and are left with his spot.  You shovel again.

Needless to say we can think of a million different scenarios where we’d like to think we’d be civilized and not get upset or annoyed but we are only human.  Eventually, you will get pissed off enough that you will seriously consider retaliating.  At the very least, write a strongly worded anonymous note left on a windshield.  

We say to our neighbors in the South End, “Good luck!  You are the most superior neighborhood in the city of Boston!  You win!”  As for Southie, we’ll stick with the old school way of marking our territory and battling it out all winter long.   Let the games begin!

Need a refresher on the rules?  Here they are!  

What do you think?  Should we give up spot savers or keep them?



  1. Anonymous January 6, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Rules?! There are no rules. Nice thought, but I still have spots stolen.  Also, no one ever picks up their space saver until someone kicks it out of the way or steals it. Then you're the sad soul that "stole" someones spot when really someone else moved their saver – around and around the cycle goes of hatred and anger all winter long.  I say get rid of this ridiculous tradition and make it an even playing field. 

  2. Matt S January 6, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I think the 48 hour rule for spot savers is a good one, but there needs to be consistent enforcement. In other words, no  spot savers before the storm, or a week later, and only spot savers after a snow emergency has been called.

    And it is the city's responsibility (BTD, BPD, DPW etc) remove any spot savers that violate the rule.

    Do you think if you lived in the Fenway you would be allowed to put out spot savers on a Red Sox game day and charge for the spot?? I'd be willing to bet the city would put a stop to that ASAP.

    I don't know why it has been left up to citizens to enforce and/or create their own rules when it comes to spot savers. Consistent enforcement by the city is the best answer.

  3. Anonymous January 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    this should be an interesting study on 'talking the talk' vs. 'walking the walk' I can guarantee you that the people in the South End will put something in their spot if we get 2 feet of snow. GUARANTEE IT. #savetheplanet  #iownajet 

  4. Kate January 7, 2015 at 1:49 am

    Southie has such potential, but mindsets like these ruin this neighborhood. None of the "scenerios" listed are valid. NONE. We all decided to live in the city, and this means that we share public streets and spaces. If you want a spot to go to and from….RENT OR BUY ONE or better yet-move to the suburbs! For the rest of us this means sharing public streets. You could learn a thing or two from the South End-it's called having respect for your neighbors. Southie takes it too far and too personal. Enough is enough. 

  5. Keep the Space Saver January 7, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I have a pinched nerve in my lower back.  I have shoveled for 3 hours only to have my space savers thrown away (last year I lost 4) and my space stolen.  If everyone shovels their own car out, I don't understand why everyone can't just park back in their space.  The car shuffling makes no sense.  I believe the space saver should be kept until the snow melts and the parking returns, sometimes 48 hours isn't enough.

  6. Chip January 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Enough hit the nail on the head. Why does South Boston have all of these quirks that the rest of the city gets by without?

  7. Anonymous January 7, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    As a South End resident for 21 years, I can tell you that space savers have not been that common — and residents want to keep it that way.  The entire tone and content of this piece is obnoxious. Outsiders?  Really??  Why would you want to whip up an "us vs them" mentality which usually ends in some kind of violence to people or their cars?  There have been plenty of newspaper articles about how these "only human" individuals respond, and it's not with a strongly worded, anonymous note.  We live in a city and no one owns the public parking spaces, for any reason.  I fully support the city's efforts to eradicate this practice by removing the debris people put out after 48 hours.  Enough is enough is right.

  8. LifeLongResident January 7, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    The system used to work. It clearly doesn't anymore. End this nonsense for good.

  9. Get rid of them January 7, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    If everyone dug their car out and no one used space savers then there would the same number of spots every day. It would be the same as it is without snow.

    So the argument to allow space savers is based on the premise that many people are lazy and don't do a good enough job digging out the spot they are in when it snows. Since almost everyone is using space savers (because they feel they did such a great job) this seems like a flawed argument…

    It seems like the real reason they are used is to "save" a spot for as long as possible to get temporary relief from the constant lack of parking. The snow / shoveling is just an excuse.

    While this desire is understandable it is never really acceptable to save a public parking space as your own. Its just not yours. When you drive away it is a public spot for anyone to use. That is just the reality of having a car in the city. People only abide by it because they are afraid that their car will get vandalized. Its a nice way to cohabitate – fearing your neighbor is going to slash your tires… 

    Maybe it will never happen in Southie but I agree with letting this tradition go. The real solution to this problem would be to create more public parking (e.g. garages, lots) so there is plenty available. Then people could let the space savers go…



  10. Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 1:27 am

    "As for Southie, we'll stick with the old school way of marking our territory and battling it out all winter long."  

    Please don't speak for the whole neighborhood, a majority of South Boston residents would welcome a change like this.  A rule like this would remove a major source of tension in a neighbor hood that already has too much of it. Southie has too few parking spots for residents and sharing these spots between the "day shift" and "night shift" is the only thing that makes parking work in these conditions.  Saving spots is a relic of the old Southie that needs to go the way of Whitey Bulger.  


  11. Embarrassing January 8, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    The points the author makes are invalid, across the board.  Firstly, dibs is an American word and appears in websters dictionary.  So the idea that is an "outsider" word just speaks to a sad mentality. And while the mom with two toddlers, spending her Saturday afternoon shoveling a foot of snow is a compelling scenario, the more common scenario is someone who clears off their car, makes a groove in the snowbank ,then drives though the snow bank, then places a lawn chair in the spot that took maybe 30 min max to "clear".  This person then wants a legal right to that spot until the Red Sox come back from Florida.  Parking in Southie is tough.  It is even tougher, when open spots are taken out of commission because they are marked.  I hope the South End experiment works and is expanded.

  12. Anonymous January 8, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    another reason not to live in City of Boston and it does not snow when the Sox are in town

  13. Anonymous January 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Move to the burbs if you expect and believe you are entittled to a spot because you have kids or a ton of groceries to carry a few blocks. That reasoning is maddening.

  14. Jane January 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    First of all not saving spots would work if only the idiots who own cars in southie would actually use them..i see the same cars stay on the street for weeks on end while I take my car to work and i have to drive around looking for a spot, and if i am lucky i might find one five blocks away.. If you want to live in the city then don`t own a car if you are not going to Use it.. after all they take buses to work and taxis to get drunk then why own a car? I grew up in southie and I for one will go save my spot when i shoveled it for hours..so good luck with eliminating spots in southie..it will never happen. Go live in the south end..maybe that works for You!!!!!!!!

  15. Anonymous January 20, 2015 at 1:42 am

    most certianly southie should follow in suite with the south end.   let us all try and be more like neighbors and stop just thinking of ourseelves.

  16. Anonymous January 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    today (1/25) there are spot savers all over Southie. No snow emergency declared and no way any one had to shovel out a spot. it's out of control now. Why does the city allow people to take up public parking spaces?? 

  17. Comment January 28, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    I have the solution. THE CITY SHOULD PLOW THE STREETS. The plow should work just like street sweeping after a storm hits. Storm hits, 24 hours later the cars need to be move from one side of the street to the other Mon- Fri. This will clear the road and clear the need for spot savers.

    Really how hard was it to come up with that IDEA. Walsch let's see something productive done. 

  18. In Denial January 28, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Whether it's popular or not spot savers are here to stay. There's no way of enforcing it. No money to be made by the city . There are is so much about Southie that make this neighborhood a great place to live,so yeah we have one storm and now everyone's up in arms? Just accept it as a reality and if it's really that horrible find a better place to live. It's like moving to East Boston and complaining about the noise from Logan   

  19. Anonymous January 29, 2015 at 12:41 am

    How about every household in southie gets one assigned parking space?   They would be reponsible for shoveling it out and it would always be theirs.  No more lawn chairs, orange cones, or lawn ornaments as spot savers!!

  20. Anonymous January 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I am very pregnant I was outside shoveling every hour so that the snow wouldn't be too much for me for almost 24 hrs. Neighbors had to help me when the plows came through. I can honestly say that I deserve my spot and would be pretty upset if I had to walk(waddle) a mile on ice to get home if someone took it.  My elderly neighbors where out shoveling almost as often as I was…you don't know anyone's sistuation don't take their spot. 

  21. Anonymous January 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    How is it an even playing field if I spend hours shoveling and you do nothing? Sounds like your lazy. 

  22. Maureen Murphy February 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    And I have another "solution" maybe the pols and the builders should not be allowed to build new units with only enouough parking spaces for one per unit… really ????? Or maybe the lot onW Broadway could be built up as in a 3 level garage or similar.


  23. Murphy February 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    ANd here is another solution, maybe if the pols and the builders were not in bed together, there would be more than one parking space built for each new unit!  money money money.. and another solution might be to build a parking garage on W Broadyway where the public lot is located. 3 stories or so ….


  24. Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    The reason spot savers are necessary in south Boston was validated when the point had that 24 hour resident parking pilot program. On the weekends the surrounding streets that were not part of the program were inundated w/non resident parkers, suffice it to say that people's friends come to visit & need spots. Fast forward to the 70 inches we have gotten in the last 3 weeks, there is so much snow that even when you shovel out your spot you have nowhere to put it. The snow banks are so huge they probably take up 2 spots each & there are a ton of them. So if I shovel out a spot (and I am the scenario w/the baby & toddler) for hours and someone comes along & takes it because they feel they have that right, where am I going to park? There are no "extra" spots! On nights when the ground is dry it's hard enough to find a spot but not impossible, it may be 12 blocks away but it exists. Today, right now, with snow piled as high as my second floor window, those far away spots do not exist. Oh & just to be clear I am not making it an "us against them" argument. 

  25. Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    The snow that we have gotten would make it virtually impossible to "make a groove on the snow & drive out". This snow required hours of shoveling

  26. Anonymous February 11, 2015 at 4:01 pm


  27. Anonymous February 12, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    When you ask the cops why they dont remove the cones after 48 hours and they tell you "You're ignorant, go pahk the cah somewhere else.  Don't touch the cones unless you want to get yah cah vandah-lized.." how can you not say screw it, and follow suit with everyone else. If the city had cops, mbta crew, plows, garbage trucks removing all savers and made statements and sent out a text message.. it would work.  It would be a tough 2-4 years, but the message would get through. hell, put it in the flyers that all residents get about xmas trees, garbage pickup etc, put it on the FRONT PAGE


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