Let's lose the folding chairs

Unfortunately, the author of the recent commentary regarding parking after snow storms and I are in the extreme minority ("Note to Baltimoreans: That parking spot you shoveled out isn't yours," Jan. 25). I had never heard of reserving a parking spot that a person did not own before moving here. I keep being told that "it is a Baltimore tradition" and these very words were even uttered by our current mayor. However, not all traditions are worth keeping.

Transportation Article 21-111 states that police agencies across Maryland can fine people $140 and add two points on their driver's license for placing objects in a road or highway that could be "destructive, hazardous or injurious to other person's property." Unfortunately, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon stated the following when responding to people reserving the spots with random objects: "We're not going to enforce it." Great.


I live in southwest Baltimore on the city-county line. I have a parking pad behind my home directly in the middle of the neighborhood in the back alley that comfortably fits one vehicle, although it can fit two. Most people would think that parking back there is what I should do. Unfortunately, the alleys are not plowed and I understand that. People also do not shovel the part of the alley behind their home, which I do not understand. I decided not to participate in the selfish madness going on directly in front of my house and parked my vehicle in the back of my home with my wife's car.

Although a few days after the storm, a friend came by with a pickup truck to make tracks and lower the snow level to help us get our vehicles out, I could only get out my wife's RAV4 because it has four-wheel drive and much higher off of the ground. My car was too low to get out and got stuck when I tried. Some would say, "just shovel out the whole alley yourself." Well, in each direction that would be about 100 yards — not to mention that the left side is padded down to thick ice and it will not come up. It is important to understand my situation before criticizing someone for not just "handling it themselves." We are now five days after the blizzard and I am still stuck in the back of the alley.

After I got my wife's SUV out of the alley, I parked it on the side of the neighborhood where there are fewer homes and more spaces. I did not move an object to park the vehicle, although it is certainly within my right to do so. Using common courtesy in these situations, such as knowing if an elderly person uses a particular spot, is always good practice, of course. To the best of my knowledge, that was not the case here. A note was left on my wife's vehicle this morning stating that I should not have parked there because I did not shovel it out at 7 a.m. You may be wondering, "why didn't you just take the other spot in the parking pad behind your own home again?" Well, when I tried to do that, I hit ice and dislodged part of the undercarriage of her vehicle which I had to get repaired.

In past storms, I have shoveled out spots on the "public" street. When I shovel it out, it is done for two reasons — so I can get where I need to go and so someone else, or myself, can use it after the spot is vacated. It is not my spot, I don't own it. But somehow, I become the selfish one when I park somewhere that another person, at 7 a.m., has cleared out. I would say thanks for clearing out the spot, but it is only for yourself, so why should I be thankful? Of course, people will continue to reserve the spots until every single piece of snow has melted because it is convenient for them. Recycle trucks, trash vehicles and other motorists need to get through the alleys also. But hey, if you don't have a parking pad back there, you don't care. And from my observations, many who do still don't shovel the alley behind their homes.

This is not tolerated in some other neighboring cities like Philadelphia or New York City, and Baltimore should not be any different. Again, not all traditions are good ones. This selfish behavior causes madness, such as my father telling me someone's tires getting slashed downtown for someone "parking in their spot." It is a traffic violation here, so police should enforce it for the sake of others.

This may be a lost cause, but I can't be the extreme minority in the city who want a good, helpful law enforced. And lastly, the old beat up chairs, benches, scooters, rusted milk canisters and other meaningless objects are ugly and don't need to be seen everywhere.

Benjamin Christian, Catonsville