Chicago: Declare your street chair-free


If you’ve lived in Chicago any length of time, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For you newbies: It’s that time honored (but illegal) tradition of marking your spot after you’ve shoveled it out in a snow storm. But who hasn’t done it? Seriously … You spend all this time shoveling out your car, salting the street and making sure that you can get in and out of the spot. Then someone else swoops in and takes it? No way.

What ticks me off, however, is when people don’t shovel out their spot but mark it anyway. Really? Really. They’re just using the snow as an excuse to get a primo parking space, and that just isn’t right.

Someone out there, however, doesn’t think that you should ever mark your spot (I have mentioned it’s illegal, right?), and they’ve decided to do something about it.
I was listening to CBS Chicago this morning, and saw their story on a man who wants to change the “dibs” tradition.

A website called Chair Free Chicago has decided to make signs that declare your street a “Chair-Free Zone.” You can order a pack of 6 for $15. And, if you feel cheap, you can actually print your own signs for free from the site–they just won’t last as long because they’re not the plasticky laminated stuff.

With more snow on the way later this week, now is actually a good time to think about this whole chair-free thing. And potentially purchase or print signs for your neighborhood. That is, if you’re in the kind of neighborhood that won’t rip down the signs and spit on them.

So, what do you think, Chicago? Should we all go print out signs and declare our streets chair free? Or should this “time-honored” (cough) tradition stand in place? Or if someone declared your street “chair free” would you honor it?


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  • Chair and chair alike!

  • As a non driver I say HELL NO! You worked for that spot you earned that spot. I have heard about people getting shot over someone moving the chairs. I also would like to say, if you have more then 2 cars to a household, GET A PAID PARKING SPOT!

  • I say we extend the chairing to other public spaces. If I shovel a sidewalk for my own purposes, I should be able to put chairs on it so other people can't take advantage of using my shoveled sidewalk!

  • In reply to christianjbrooks:

    hilarious! love it

  • In reply to christianjbrooks:

    Hey you took the time to shovel it is only fair and if they walk on your sidewalk make an example of them. It's like they are dogs marking their territory. I would rather deal with yellow snow. Hilarious post BTW!!

  • In reply to christianjbrooks:

    I think permit parking is a bunch of crap, and why do we have to buy city stickers? i think thats a bunch of crap too, i think it's just another way for the city to get their greedy little hands into our pockets and to give us more tickets, ever notice all the no parking signs in this town,i have always wondered why you can't park here or there, now i know, less parking spots means more tickets and more tows, and more fines, i for one have had it, i'm leaving chicago and i'm not coming back, good luck to everyone that stays...Todziu

  • I'm against chairs. In lots of neighborhoods small businesses rely on available street parking for their survival. Chairs in otherwise available spaces severely restricts parking. I would be in favor of an alternate plan that tickets drivers that don't clear their spaces.

  • If I shovel it out, then it's my spot. People who have taken my shoved out spot in the past have gotten their cars buried under snow. I've taken the time to go back out and pile snow under their front and rear tires.

  • In reply to rrbond07:

    It went from you have to dig out to save spot to now whenever there is any snow on the floor. People have not struggled to dig out yet this year, but you drive down my block there are over 12 spots saved. Some have even bought orange cones. RIDICULOUS!!! NO CHAIRS NOW

  • If there is enough parking before the snow falls, it's there when the snow falls. I say the "scraplers" should drive down the streets and take everything that people put in the spots!

  • In reply to mags2440:

    2 thumbs UP!

  • I might not mind the space-savers for dug out spots completely - though definitely illegal - if it ended there, but in many neighborhoods in Chicago it doesn't. I moved to Bridgeport on Canal St. last April. There was no snow in sight, and yet chairs and cones were regularly stuck out on the streets everyday with no consequence (even though news media was reporting that these items were going to be confiscated and thrown away). I reported it to the Bridgeport police but they said to just move the items, because they were illegal. I knew if I did that, my car might be keyed the next day, or something like that! The city police or sanitation department should remove these items, no excuses, if a snow storm has passed. It is totally unfair and creates bad blood between neighbors too!

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    I agree with that, if there is no snow piled and no snow falling then you have no rights to saving that spot. Also on major streets there should not be chairs, these are the spots that stores depend on. As for the sides streets, most of them are permit parking so who cares if you save a spot for yourself with a chair. You have the permit that says you can park in that area so you should be able to save that shoveled spot you made!

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    How about being neighborly? I shovel three spots every time it snows, before the snow gets hard and crusty--My spot, the spot in front of me and the spot behind me. I don't always know who owns the cars on the other spots, but I figure they're neighbors so I can help them out. And I never, ever do the dibs thing. The time and effort it takes to shovel out a parking space is GREATLY exaggerated. Maybe five minutes, tops, for a three or four inch snow. Maybe ten or fifteen minutes for an eight inch snow. So I spend 15 minutes to a half hour shoveling three parking places. Big deal. It's good exercise, but it's not exactly climbing Mount Everest. Instead of turning this into some Parking Scrooge Debate, why don't we just be good to each other and shovel out a few cars while we're at it? If we each took ten minutes to shovel out two spots, this wouldn't be a problem.

  • In reply to KateM:

    You are such good neighbor. I hope others follow your lead.

  • In reply to KateM:

    This is exactly right. If more folks did this then there would be nothing but a mostly shoveled street and the silly plastic lawn furniture could go back in the garage to be enjoyed by the spiders and squirrels.

  • In reply to KateM:

    Great Idea! I've done that and more! I can't say it was an advantage, and nobody really said thanks. But it made me feel good and get some excercise as well. But on the other hand, I think saving A space with various furniture is a Chicago tradition. I would never violate a saved space out of respect for the shoveller. But I also know it is a great way to shop for items like outdoor chairs as well as nice unwanted dining room sets. Thanks to all shovellers that beyond thier own needs as well as the suppliers of items others may use.

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    No way.
    The street is public, public, public - same thing with the parkway behind the curbs. Everyone has shoveled their car out, need to. You live in the city, if you want the concession of saving a space, go to the suburbs.
    I would never move property and park there - just asking for car damage regardless of the principle.

    If I had a pickup truck, I would take them ALL.
    Too bad the chairs don't have license plates to track the people down, ticket the hell out of them.

    Let alone the fact that when there are condos and apartments everywhere in Chicago, it's not fair to block off so many spots and we all then have to avoid snow routes and permit parking blocks to park. I have had to walk half a mile to my place before because of all those damn chairs.

    I understand their frustration, but the bottom line is that it is illegal. End of story

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    It's illegal for a reason. It's a misallocation of resources. There aren't enough spots on the street for everyone to have their own reserved spot to sit empty while they're not there. Think it makes sense for scarce parking to be 30% utilized? That's insane.

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    What doesn't help is when Mayor McCheese giggles like a school girl, and say's "It's a Chicago tradition". Thanks former States Attorney.

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    If people were truly neighborly, then everyone would pitch in and shovel the entire block so everyone would have a space! But that won't happen. I bought a house last year and with a garage, so I don't have to worry about claiming my space. I do admit I've used a cone and a chair or two in the past.

  • In reply to kittyhawk:

    I think we should not have to put signs out, I think the city should do it. I also beleive the city should do just like they do in the summer time for street cleaners, they should come down our blocks and shovel the snow on the street, if the cars are not moved ticketed it period enouh said. I am not getting shot for putting a sign out there number one and number two if its ilegal then the police should do there jobs when someone calls.

  • In reply to dlovell3:

    Other than moving the chairs what can the cops do? There is not an ID on these things and you can't assume the spot in front of a house was shoveled by that owner.
    I am not defending the act, and I agree with you, but can't really enforce it, other than REMOVING it - which we should do

  • In reply to dlovell3:

    Good solution.

  • In reply to dlovell3:

    i think this is the best idea i've heard: year round street cleaning! in the summer this means leaves and litter, in the winter it means snow and ice (and probably litter ... let's be real, we do live in chicago).

  • In reply to jillciminillo:

    OR, we could just clear the cars out, like street cleaning, for salting. The salt trucks pelt parked cars anyhow, so it will make it over using the same amount of salt. City can't afford to plow parking too.

  • In reply to dlovell3:

    I am acquiring a very nice set of back-yard furniture from all the free chairs abandoned in the street. Please keep on leaving them for me.

  • In reply to dlovell3:

    The chair-in-the-street tradition started after the Blizzard of 1967, when the snow-cover lasted for two months. Back then it was tolerated as a temporary measure for one extraordinary winter. Now the whole thing has gotten ridiculous.

    Remember when New York City had a problem with the squeegee men cleaning car windows at every stoplight? Giuliani got rid of them! Therefore, I propose that anyone running for Mayor of Chicago take the pledge--to eliminate the chair-in-the-street jerks. That's a winning issue.


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