'Tis the season of holiday cheer, hot toddies and battling your neighbors over parking spaces that you painstakingly dug out in the frigid aftermath of a snowstorm.
Parking space savers recently made their winter season debut, popping up not only in Southie, where the art of place saving seems to be a neighborhood pastime, but throughout the rest of the city and Greater Boston area.
Boston allows residents to use space savers for up to 48 hours after a snow emergency has been lifted. After that, the items are collected by the Department of Public Works. The city does not ticket people who leave space savers out beyond the grace period.
However, there is one thing that will earn residents a citation: piles of snow.
"We more so will write a ticket for unshoveled sidewalks or for people placing snow in the street; not so much for space savers," said Lisa Timberlake of the The Boston Inspectional Services Department.
Although Somerville, Medford and Cambridge do not allow the space savers at any time, they were already out in full force this week, littering the streets with household items like chairs, vacuum cleaners and boxes. Some even bear friendly -- and in some cases not-so-friendly -- notes asking neighbors to respect the unspoken space-saver code (if you shovel it, you save it).
But residents in those communities shouldn't expect the method to work.
"Public Works’ first priority is returning the streets and public sidewalks back to safe, passable conditions as quickly as possible," said Cambridge Public Information Officer Ini Tomeu. "Once primary snow removal is complete, crews will begin removing space savers as they come upon them."
A snow emergency was not issued for Tuesday's snowfall, meaning Boston residents were in the wrong if they placed items in the street. However, that doesn't mean they'll face repercussions.
"There are no rules. This is not a program, it's not an ordinance, not something that officially exists. The mayor supports space savers during declared snow emergencies. Other than that we're not involved in it," said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
As for the occasional act of retaliation between scorned neighbors, Guilfoil said: "We'd strongly caution residents against vandalizing vehicles or breaking the law."