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Posted at 5:02 PM ET, 02/10/2010

Lessons in snow etiquette

By editors

By David Drachsler

Regarding the Feb. 9 front-page story “On still snowy sidewalks, etiquette slips away”:

The commonwealth of Virginia may not have statewide rules on the responsibility of property owners to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their houses, but some localities do. Alexandria requires business owners and residents to clear sidewalks “abutting” their property within 24 hours after a storm has ended or face a $50 fine.

Of course, after storms of this magnitude, homeowners are doing well to dig out a car so they can get to the grocery store; the city recognizes this difference because the city Web site says in cases when there has been more than 12 inches of snow, “The City will plow and treat streets as quickly as possible, based on weather conditions and available resources.”

I believe a similar rule of reason applies to homeowners, and I can’t believe Alexandria would fine anyone who has not cleared his or her sidewalk in a reasonable time.

During the blizzard of ’96, I managed to drive to my mother-in-law’s garden apartment to shovel her steps and walk. When I parked in the only available space near her building and moved a folding chair to do so, a woman screamed at me that it was “her” space.

It is clearly illegal to block or obstruct a public street in Alexandria with any object, and folks should apply a rule of reason here as well.

By editors  | February 10, 2010; 5:02 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, weather  
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Today's Post includes an article that includes a bit about the head of a law firm who is currently parking in the same spot each day and reserves it with a folding lawn chair. Article's writer did not note that this is illegal.

Posted by: Sutter | February 11, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: amagalnick | February 11, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Come on people, The guy shoveled out his space and you are upset that he "reserved it with a lawn chair?? get a grip. Don't forget the big tip your WP delivery person deserves for over the top service.

Posted by: jdsims | February 11, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I just assume that those who park in a space that I spend 90 minutes shoveling are simply ignorant of common courtesy. It is not unknown, in the snowy hinterlands of Phillie and Boston, for people who do this to return to vehicles buried in newly shoveled snow or encased in ice (courtesy of a nearby garden hose).

No, I have no *legal* right to benefit from shoveling a public area, but I certainly have a *moral* case.

And for those who are simply ignorant of the 'rules', how about some 'parking chair' etiquette:

• Only someone who lives on that street can reserve a space with a chair.

• A chair is only good for the day you cleared the space. It's not a weeklong free parking pass.

• One space per person: It's rude to reserve multiple spaces, even if you dug all of them out.

• Move a parking chair only in emergencies (and leave a note explaining your transgression).

• You are allowed to move a chair if there are no other spaces on the street and you only need to park for an hour or two. However, you must leave a note saying when you'll be back, and put the chair back when you return ====

Posted by: WilyArmadilla | February 11, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

wilyarmadilla posted the universally accepted snow etiquette rules for snowy urban regions. Those unfamiliar with heavy snowfalls should take notice; unwritten laws can be very real laws indeed, and retribution for transgressions can be severe. A garden-hose icing can make your car unusable for days. Beware the chair-man; he has ways to make you regret your parking theft.

Posted by: jacquescustodian2 | February 11, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Reserving a parking spot for a space I cleared really is a moral and common courtesy issue, which some people just don't adhere to or have. It's a sad commentary on some members of our society who only care about themselves.

Here is the problem with certain areas, especially where I live in Alexandria. I live on a street with no parking restrictions or assigned or designated parking spaces, so parking is a side of the road free-for-all. With no restrictions, and several bus stops on our street that even when residents park their one car each it is packed, add people who are parking there for the day or for several days just to take the bus or to be close to Reagan National Airport so they don't have to pay for parking or get towed away, and that's a problem. Add into this that we get one plow down the center of our street, but the city does not require cars to be moved from either side of the street for the plow to clear the entire road surface and you have 1/10 the number of free parking spaces for the same number of people who actually live there, notwithstanding anyone who just decides they want their commute to be easier. I really don't think I should have to leave my car at work for two weeks or more just because the city wants more revenue by forcing me to take the bus because of their choice of no parking restrictions and lack of adequate plowing.

Posted by: CBATS | February 12, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I feel trapped. I feel like I cannot go anywhere for fear of losing that coveted space when all around me is slick pavement and mounds covering all the usual spots.

Posted by: sumo1222 | February 12, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Placing a chair in a parking space is snobby, unless your living complex reserves the space for your unit (in which case you could simply have the car towed at the owner's expense).

Public roads are for everybody. This behavior is repulsive. I hope I don't have neighbors like you folks at any point in my life, but in case I do, a chair will not stop me from parking my car somewhere (even though I usually don't drive).

I will move your chair out of the way. And if you mess with my car, you can explain to the cops/insurance company your presumed entitlement to public space. I'm sure they will be very receptive to such BS.

Posted by: jboogie1 | February 13, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Listen to some folks. They seek entitlements for shoveling snow... Grow up.

Posted by: jboogie1 | February 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

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