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Debate Over ‘Dibs': Is It Time To End The Chicago Winter Tradition?

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Parking Dibs After Blizzard

Many Chicago motorists call “dibs” on parking spaces after a snowstorm, by putting down folding chairs or other junk in a parking space they have dug out. (Credit: CBS)

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By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Is it time to end the tradition of ‘dibs’ in Chicago?

There is growing evidence that residents are tired of the practice of “reserving” a neighborhood street parking spot after shoveling a car out of the space. The “anti-dibs” crusade seems to grow stronger as more snow is dumped in Chicago. (Near-record amounts, in some cases.)

However, Chicagoans hold on tight to its traditions. Mustard on hot dogs. (Ketchup? Blasphemy!) Macy’s (It’s Marshall Field’s, forever!). U.S. Cellular Field (no, Sox Park or Comiskey!) Willis Tower (whatchu talkin’ about, it will always be Sears Tower!!!). Vote early and often! (I see dead people.)

The pro-dibs crowd believes that if you take the time to shovel the spot, it should be yours when you return. So, streets are littered with tables, chairs, cones and a variety of other debris.

“Steve from a few doors down dug out his spot, it’s his now,” said one pro-dibs commentator on Reddit on Wednesday. “I’ll dig out my own. That’s how it goes and how it’s gone for forever.”

But, really, how long does it take to dig out a spot after a snowstorm?

One woman, earlier this winter, took it upon herself to dig out all the spots on her block.

This was the fifth spot Ferguson dug out. In her words, "This is gonna be a toughy." (Credit: Instagram/JamiePie)

This was the fifth spot Ferguson dug out. In her words, “This is gonna be a toughy.” (Credit: Instagram/JamiePie)

Jamie Lynn Ferguson, 29, took off work at a the Breakthrough Urban Ministries shelter and after-school program and spent the day shoveling out as many parking spaces on her block as she could — both sides of the 2600 block of West Evergreen Avenue in Humboldt Park.

That would refute the notion that it takes hours of hard work to free a single car from a snowy tomb.

Adding even more momentum to the anti-dibs cause, a person picked up a whole bunch of “dibs junk” and offered it for sale on Craiglist.

“In driving around the Northside these past few days I’m seeing hundreds of chairs being abandoned on the streets. I’ve collected about 350 various chairs… I’m selling each chair for $5, regardless of condition or smell.”

The offer was later deleted from the site.

The argument against dibs is pretty simple: Just because a person digs out their car, they don’t own the space. It’s a public space, free for anybody to use.

Other cities are equally passionate on this issue. In Boston, people have gotten their cars damaged or tires slashed if they take over a “dibs’ spot that wasn’t theirs.

The practice is illegal in Chicago, but city officials long have allowed drivers to call “dibs” on parking after heavy snow while crews focus on plowing streets.

After the blizzard of 2011, the city warned residents days after the storm that they would start removing items set out of the street.

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