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Citizen complaint of the day: The perpendicular parkers of Poplar Street deserve a break

Poplar Street in Roslindale, between roughly the George Wright Golf Course and Beech Street, has a series of homes with stubby driveways, not really long enough for anything much bigger than a Smart Car. A resident filed a 311 complaint about a city ticketing blitz very early this morning in the stretch:

Today January 31, 2019 at 1am my wife's and my car car were ticketed by the City of Boston under code 316 Sidewalk. We had been parking for many years facing the house on my property, perpendicular to the front wall of the house as far as possible and the cars overlap few inches of the sidewalk/driveway ramp from the street. There are many properties for blocks on this neighborhood that uses the same way to park their cars in front of the houses. Talking to my next door neighbors, they also got tickets on their cars. We hope that the City can look into this situation for which the residents do not have other options regarding this parking issue considering that off the street parking is not feasible due to the fact that Poplar street in these area is very busy with buses, emergencies vehicles, and regular traffic, not to mention that is designated as an "emergency artery" during snow storms. Hoping that the City can resolve this issue favorable for the many residents.

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Comments

Fine, I'll be the 1st:

For years you were encroaching on public property and the city hasn't been enforcing the rules. But now that they are, the excuse is "but we've been doing it forever!". Well, just because the city hasn't been enforcing it, doesn't make it OK.

But - on the other hand - I understand their plight and hope it was just a rookie's first night on the job that resulted in this ticketing.

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The city not enforcing the law for years is also not ok. Why should the residents think this law is any different than other ridiculous unenforced laws still on the books? It's not like we're about to start arresting people for not showering before bed.

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Although the drinking age is still 21 in a college town, they batched up and cleared off a lot of the bizarre blue laws some time ago.

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Is the sidewalk getting blocked?
Yes.
Is the blockage enough to prevent movement by someone in a wheelchair?
Yes.

Then go pound sand. Hope the city is back tomorrow.

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I have some sand available for pounding, and I can toss some in your face, too!
Sorry, but as a pedestrian, cars blocking the sidewalk are one of my pet peeves.
That, and the conditions of sidewalks in winter, near, say T stations and stops, and crosswalk entrances at lights, etc.

Only in contrast to the bare dry pavement provided within hours to drivers.
Tyranny of the majority.

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"Blocking wheelchairs"? No, not really.

Yes, a wheelchair would need to weave a few inches a little bit to get around cars, but it's a driveway so it's all concrete anyway. Slightly inconvenient, but not like running into a brick wall. And how many wheelchairs are you imagining going up and down the sidewalk? It's not exactly the marathon route on Patriots Day.

There's no point making a mountain out of a molehill.

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The sloped part is not accessible. You can go around the car, someone in a wheelchair cant.

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Look at the picture. Not a single wheelchair impediment in that entire photo. Far less than all of the city-installed obstacles to wheelchairs like trees, empty wells where trees have been removed, parking/traffic signs, parking meters, etc.

If your car legitimately is blocking sidewalk passage, then get a shorter car.

But what this sounds like is a new BTD employee (or someone new to the neighborhood) who decided to go for some cheap shots instead of actually putting the work in to enforce higher priority ordinances.

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1) The city should also be ticketing all those people whose recycling and trash are blocking the sidewalk

2) There are posts in the sidewalk near the curb. This means a chair user would have to weave in to dodge the pole, then out to dodge the cars (and out onto a driveway curb cut, which means they're traveling on the most sloped part of the sidewalk, which is annoying and vertigo-inducing). The sidewalk is intended for someone in a large power wheelchair to be able to use safely and comfortably. Granted, there are places in Boston where the sidewalk isn't even 36" let alone 42", but this doesn't mean people should park blocking the sidewalk in areas where it is accessible.

3) If you don't own land large enough to legally park your car, you don't get to park your car there.

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out onto a driveway curb cut, which means they're traveling on the most sloped part of the sidewalk, which is annoying and vertigo-inducing

Not just uncomfortable, by definition inaccessible. The maximum allowable cross slope for a sidewalk in Boston is 1.5%, ADA is less strict at 2%. Those curb cuts look at least 5%.

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MassDOT standards specify 1.5% cross slope for the accessible path of travel, and a 5 to 15% slope for the rest of the driveway.

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People don’t use those old fashioned wheelchairs in public any more. They’re all motorized. So the wheelchair situation doesn’t fly here.

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People who use them temporarily and people who have the upper body ability use them all the time.

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Whether your talking about motorized wheel chairs or manual wheelchairs the fact is that most if not all are wider then 6 inches and locations where there are trees planted on the sidewalk so narrow the sidewalk so wheelchairs of any type can not be used. Not saying whether or not there should be trees but the issue is that if the genuine issue was sidewalk blocking all trees etc would be removed

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The google map picture: The house on the left is impassible for a wheelchair. Can't use the sloped part -- way too steep. Then the white bag where the pole is may also be impassible. Next house, with the black car: also impassible. The next house (also with a black car) -- car is fine, but the trash is blocking the sidewalk. On the other side of the street, the white SUV is also blocking.

And here's the thing: these houses all have a garage. They do have a place to park the car. And, if they really want to use the stub driveway, keep the garage door open and pull the nose of the car into the overhang so you're not obstructing the driveway.

Send them a letter telling them that, starting March 1, they'll be ticketing every day. You got a month to figure it out.

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It's not just as a junk storage area.

Problem (mostly) solved.

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And it should be noted that on street parking is not exactly scarce in this area.

Now, were this after a snowstorm that resulted in a parking ban, I could see their point, and perhaps a warning would have been nice to start, but in the end, it is possible to park one's car in a manner where the sidewalk is not blocked around there.

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Some of the houses in the Google Maps link don't have garages.

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Some of the houses, including the house of the citizen reporting this, don't have garages any more. Those entrances you see used to be garage doors. The actual entrance is on the side of the house.

Honestly, I commented before looking at the photos. I thought it was the houses down the way. Still, they walled up their garage and now park blocking the sidewalk. They made their beds.

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Or the previous owner or their landlord did it.

What's the ideal solution here? Pedestrian and wheelchair access is important. But it's a narrow street with a lot of traffic, and not a lot of pedestrians. In some places, they take a more relaxed attitude, and allow parking on part of the sidewalk.

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The owner can park on the street, parallel to the house in the area where the car cannot properly fit in the "driveway." There is enough room on the street for that. Heck, they can use the space that is the proper length for a car they way they have been, parallel park another car in the "driveway," and put the third car on the street. Problem solved.

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From the image in the complaint and Google Maps, it looks like that building might not have a garage. The architecture is designed in a way that (especially comparing it to the other buildings on the road) really looks like it could have been a garage, but I don't see a garage door.

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A lot of houses in that neighborhood that otherwise look just like this one do have garages. Most that don't, previously had one, but the garage was converted to expand the house. That may be what happened here. Also worth noting, street parking is legal on that part of Poplar, but most choose instead to use the short garage entrances as if they were full length driveways.

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Yes. The reason these cars are sticking out onto the sidewalk is that people are not opening their garage doors and parking in their garages. A pet peeve of mine here in Dorchester. For pete's sake people, use your garages! Oh, and if you *had* a garage but blocked it off to use as living space but still want to park off-street and block part of the sidewalk, too bad.

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you might be able to fit 3 cars if you angled the 2 in front of the house. It looks as if there used to be a garage there. Perhaps they could reinstall the garage doors. But I don't think anyone owes them a break. They have a lot of options.

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My house has no room in front of it for a car. The steps go right up to the property line. Should I just park a car on the sidewalk and be like, but other people park their cars in front of their house, why would you ticket me for it?!

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Someone with a Lexus and a bigass Patriots banner acting entitled? I'm shocked!

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The problem is that 311 is fast becoming the tool of criminals, bullies, racists etc.using the city as their private hitman

If someone calls 311 and makes a complaint the city gives the victim of such a ticket. The tickets are not evenly or fairly distributed. Persons get tickets because someone requests 311 to give them a ticket. Often the real objection is not the alleged offense but that the criminal, bully, racist etc is seeking to harm someone for some other reason, maybe they dont like the persons race, maybe the 311 caller is engaged in criminal activity, maybe its young thugs bullying the eldery etc

Here 311 shows that someone had called about 10 hours before the above complaint complaining about a vehicle blocking the sidewalk at a nearby home

In decent locations the space in front of a persons single family home is the homeowners space, Boston should treat their homeowners with nothing less.

If the city is going to give tickets for blocking a sidewalk they should do so for all equally not only when someone requests their enemy be ticketed. If the city was serious about alleged sidewalk blocking they would go down the street ticketing everyone involved night after night, not only some people. If the city's is serious about alleged sidewalk blocking they will have to cut down all the trees as many trees on the sidewalks render the sidewalk less then 6 inches wide clearly not wide enough for a wheelchair.

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311 in of itself is dispassionate. Perhaps people might use it because they are having issues with their neighbors, but the issues should be rooted in some kind of violation. In this case, someone was pissed about these people blocking the sidewalk when they park. They brought it to they city's attention. If you think it should be applied in other places, there are several ways to contact the city about it. You can call 311, go to the city's website, and even download an app.

The sidewalk is for pedestrians, not cars.

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The problem is that not all calls to 311 are rooted in some kind of violation and when there is a violation not all are treated equally. Maybe the caller of the original post is a Rams fan and didnt like the banner posted.

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So everyone using 311 is a criminal, bully or racist?

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Not everyone is a criminal, bully, or racist but the point is that some of the users are criminals, bullies, and racist and they are using 311 to engage in criminal activity, bully people, and engage in race discrimination, and 311 does not treat everyone the same. Some tickets are being wrongly issued because of 311 calls and there is not fair and equal treatment by the city in ticket issuing. If there is an issue with sidewalk blocking the city should ticket all equally not only when someone calls 311

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"In decent locations the space in front of a persons single family home is the homeowners space, Boston should treat their homeowners with nothing less."

Um, no. Where are these "decent locations" of which you write, and can you point me to the law or rule that promises a homeowner a parking space on the street in front of their home on a public way? You don't own a parking spot on the street in front of your house, even in the suburbs. Even aside from this particular homeowner's plight, which is a different matter entirely, your statement is ridiculous and inaccurate.

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If you look at any decent neighborhood of single family homes, nice homes, low crime, educated polite people etc you will see that people simply dont violate others space by dumping cars or anything else in front of other peoples space ie homes and views etc. If what you say is correct then people can have a barbecue or even camp out in front of someone elses home.

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"If what you say is correct then people can have a barbecue or even camp out in front of someone elses home."

So here's the crazy thing: If they aren't violating any laws about barbecue grills or loitering, or parking in an otherwise restricted area, THEN PEOPLE ACTUALLY *CAN* HAVE A BARBECUE OR "CAMP OUT" IN FRONT OF SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME. It might not be done that way too often (especially in less densely populated neighborhoods, where street parking isn't at such a premium when more/most residents of single family homes routinely have legitimate driveways and non-converted garages), but if people aren't doing that it's out of courtesy and/or lack of necessity. Not because they can't or even shouldn't. Just 'cause you think it's rude or wrong for someone else to park in front of your house doesn't make it either of those things.

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So being required to follow the law makes you a victim now?

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People are victims when tickets are issued which shouldnt be issued or when someone is singled out for an improper purpose such as their race etc.

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Neighbors complain and fight regardless. Using 311 is an appropriate way to address your concern.

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It is scary and not neighborly knowing that there are people nearby ie neighbors asking the city to harm them.

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The city provides 311 so people are going to use it but the city should encourage people being neighborly. If someone calls the city should ask the caller if the neighbor is elderly and if so what have they the caller done to help.

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We have no idea that the ticketing was caused by a 311 complaint. We do know that there was a 311 complaining about the ticket. Are you calling the offending homeowner a criminal, racist bully?

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Dont know anything about this particular homeowner so cant say anything about him/her but 311 does show that someone called complaining about a vehicle parked on the sidewalk at a nearby address shortly before this ticket was issued.

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They bought a house with a single-car driveway and want to park two cars in it?

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In the 2017 street view, there are 3 cars.

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And 2 of those cars are blocking the sidewalk. in fact if you go through the historic street view there is a car sticking out into the sidewalk in every single one..

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