Friday, May 29, 2009

Don't Even Think About Parking in Front of MY House, Says Local Resident

Top: do-it-yourself parking restrictions in CARAG
Bottom: legitimate city sign, also in CARAG

Sometimes legal channels will only get you so far. There are times when taking things into your own hands force necessary progress. But, I have to wonder, where does this local resident fall into the spectrum: neighborhood activist, parking vigilante, or selfish resident?

This house, located in the CARAG neighborhood, isn’t a particularly busy block, parking-wise. It’s a quiet street, mostly single-family homes and a few duplexes; unlike many blocks in CARAG, some of the houses even have driveways. The residents of this home, however, have for one reason or another decided that enough is enough, parking-wise. They took matters into their own hands, installing these vaguely official-looking “no parking between signs” signs in front of their own home.

When I first saw these signs I got mad. What nerve, I thought. Here’s some guy who thinks he’s always entitled to a spot in front of his own home, despite having his own driveway, alley, and, presumably, garage. If only I had a car, I told myself, I’d go park there just to make a point. What’s he going to do, have it towed? After working myself up, I started to reconsider. What if he really does have a reason for the signs? What if they’re official? Well, to make a long story short, I called the city. Signs like this, the helpful man at 311 informed me, were not legal. I could, if I wanted, make an anonymous complaint (I did not). City signs, sometimes installed at the homes of people with wheelchairs or other disabilities, are blue and don’t just “look” official, they are official.

I don’t know the owners of this house. I don’t know if they have some specific reason, other than pure laziness or misplaced sense of ownership, for needing parking in front of their home (or why they can’t just use their driveway). Maybe they do, but if that’s the case then they need to go the official route and go to the city and do it the right way (the city’s Traffic and Parking Services department will install disability loading area or parking signs for those who qualify). This do-it-yourself “solution” to this household’s perceived parking problem is the wrong way to effect change; it smacks of personal selfishness, an unwillingness to consider the shared good of the block or the community, and a sense of entitlement that doesn’t sit well with at least some fellow neighbors.

Again, I don’t know the behind-the-scenes story. Maybe the household has a real need for this sign, and has some legitimate reason for not getting what they need or want from the city. But what’s to stop other Uptown residents from putting up similar signs in their boulevards? Where does it end? If we were talking about some larger community act of, well, not necessarily civil disobedience (although I'm fine with that within reason), but something technically against city code (guerilla gardening or the planting of vegetables in the boulevard both come to mind as good Uptown possibilities…) then that’s one thing, but vigilante parking signs like these are not about community, they are about individual needs or perceived entitlements taken at the expense of everyone else.


  1. I have looked and looked for this sign. please, where is it? At least a hint?

  2. To protect the, uh, well, not necessarily the innocent, I'll simply say that this house is on Colfax.

  3. I understand being frustrated by homeowners who feel entitled to park in front of their own house despite being a public street. I am one of those people, but I understand when visitors (or neighbors during holidays, etc.) need to park wherever they can. However, I leave my porch light on every night as a security precaution for my house and my car. On most days/nights, there's no reason that others can't park in front of their own house. Often they park in front of my house despite open spaces on their own side of the street... I don't understand that.