Nothing in South Side has been talked about, studied, fought over and was harder to find than parking for as long as I can remember and before. Now with more and more of the neighborhood either in a Residential Permit Parking zone or under consideration for one the topic is even more pertinent.
A quick look into the files finds the South Side Chamber of Commerce undertaking a parking study of East Carson Street back as far back as the early 1960s. To no one's surprise, they found there was too little parking then also, particularly below 17th Street.
Ofttimes, predominantly in the Flats, there would be spaces filled with chairs, boxes, buckets or whatever was handy saving parking spaces for hours on end waiting for the owners' return.
Now, with the influx of new residents in South Side (read that new as in only having lived in the neighborhood for 10 to 15 years or less) and the large student population with multiple roommates and multiple cars, the parking problem is growing. Saving a parking space is taken as a right by many in the Flats.
However, talk to the police and they'll explain it is illegal.
"You're not permitted to block the street, whether it's in front of your house or not," explained Lt. Larry Scirotto, acting commander of the Zone 3 Police Station. The police often haven't actively enforced the law, but do respond to complaints.
"You see it occasionally in the Hilltop, not to say it doesn't happen," Lt. Scirotto said. "We just don't see it as often."
Putting out a chair or traffic cone to save a parking space falls under the Pennsylvania Code Title 18 – Crime and Offenses: 6501: Scattering rubbish. Lt. Scirotto said for the police to cite someone under the ordinance, they have to see them putting it out on the street.
That doesn't give people carte blanche to put whatever they want on the street. If they receive a complaint, the police will place an adhesive notice warning residents they cannot save parking spots on city streets by placing items in the street. The practice is illegal.
The notice goes on to state items left in the street will be considered abandoned and will be picked up by the trash collectors if not removed by the next collection day.
As far as having other people taking the chairs or cones from the parking space, the police don't consider that theft either. Lt. Scirotto explained anything placed in the street is considered abandoned or trash.
With winter approaching, the problem may intensify once snow starts falling. Because they are public streets, it's still not legal to save a parking space even if it was shoveled out by a resident.
That being said, Lt. Scirotto suggests people be considerate of each other and to be respectful of homeowners parking spaces.
"Nothing legally can be done, it is a public street," however he added.