Chicago crews to start dibs demolition
By Fran Spielman City Hall Reporter February 22, 2014 1:28AM
The Chicago tradition of reserving parking spaces after a snowfall is alive in the Bridgeport neighborhood as residents improvise on Union and Lowe avenues between 28th and 36th streets. | Sun-Times library
Updated: February 23, 2014 2:35AM
Dibs isn’t dead in Chicago, but it’s about to take a break after one last weekend.
On Monday, the Department of Streets and Sanitation will begin a job nearly as painstaking as side-street snow removal: carting away the lawn chairs, beat-up couches and discarded toys that have helped Chicagoans stake claim to cherished parking spaces they have cleared of snow.
Chicagoans were urged to spend the weekend removing their space-saving items or risk having city crews do it for them.
The time is right to declare a final weekend of dibs, the controversial but time-honored tradition that City Hall has condoned with a wink and a nod.
In a winter that has featured a relentless barrage of snow and cold and the fifth-highest snow totals in Chicago history, there appears to be a break in the action. There are cold temperatures but no major snowstorms in the forecast until March 2.
That gives Streets and San crews that have been piling up overtime a rare chance to clear the streets so they don’t look quite so tacky.
“As is the case with each winter season, crews remove items from city streets near the end of the winter season,” Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Molly Poppe said Friday.
“With weather conditions improving and the snow melting, Streets and Sanitation crew will begin to remove the ‘dibs’ debris and other obstructions from the public way, beginning next week.”
Ald. Mike Zalewski (23rd) said inundated city crews shouldn’t waste time collecting junk used to reserve parking spaces.
“My concern is not about dibs items. All manpower should be used for potholes and graffiti removal. That’s a much bigger problem,” he wrote in a text message to the Chicago Sun-Times that included four photos of garage doors and homes covered with graffiti.
Every year, claim-staking triggers assorted acts of vandalism across the city. Motorists who choose to ignore the street furniture and claim parking spaces that their neighbors have spent hours digging out have their tires slashed or their car doors keyed.
That has prompted some to argue that City Hall should call a halt to the policy. Zalewski agreed.
“Not a big fan. Makes the blocks look more cluttered,” he wrote.