The parking ‘dibs’ dilemma

(Graphics by Kaitlin Tamosiunas | The DePaulia)

Considering the city’s nickname “Chiberia,” it’s obvious Chicago winters are no walk in the park. From trudging down the sidewalk through icy sludge to waiting at the ‘L’ huddled under a heat lamp next to strangers, the colder months are generally not very kind to residents of the Windy City. And while we all bond over our mutual distaste for the bitter cold, one Chicago winter tradition has long been a topic of debate: parking ‘dibs.’ 

Dibs is the Chicago custom of shoveling out a snowy parking space and putting something in the spot to hold it as your own. Although this is usually done using chairs, some residents are a bit more original. The Tumblr page “CHICAGO DIBS” shares pictures of the most creative dibs placeholders, with examples including Christmas decorations, a life-size cutout of Leonardo DiCaprio and an old drum kit.

Chicago resident Jonathan Pool has started a Kickstarter campaign to combat the dibs tradition called “Dibs Shame.” He aims to raise $1,000 by Jan. 29 to purchase signs that he hopes will discourage drivers from claiming ownership of their shoveled parking space. Pools’ proposed signs would say in big, bold letters, “Trump voters for dibs, because f*ck you.”

“Most people will realize the ultimate selfishness of their act when they return home to see this sign affixed to their lawn garbage,” Pool said on the Kickstarter page. “And it is my hope that most will be so mortified to be identified as a Trump supporter that they will discontinue this deplorable practice.”

But not all Chicagoans share Pool’s distaste for the tradition. Lincoln Park resident Mac Kozi, 22, does not see dibs as an issue.

“It’s really not that big of a deal,” he said. “It’s just a neighborhood thing.”

Gold Coast resident Leigh Anne Statton has lived in Chicago for 20 years and is a vocal supporter of parking dibs. “Dibs should be allowed because the side streets in neighborhoods don’t get plowed for quite a while sometimes, and if you cleared out the spot in front of your house nobody should be able to park in your spot,” she said. “You should get to keep (that spot) until the snow melts.”

Although drivers should be able to benefit from their labor, the reality is that the streets of Chicago are public property. Just because a person shoveled out a space does not make it theirs until they decide otherwise. Every driver has the right to park in any open spot on a public street.

In an interview with DNAinfo, Pool said his Kickstarter page was “ultimately a satirical endeavor, but that doesn’t mean it can’t actually be put into the world.” Unfortunately, his approach puts more attention on Trump than it does on dibs. Perhaps writing his local alderman would have been a better approach.

In the meantime, the Streets and Sanitation Department has been inspecting the city’s streets and removing objects in dibs-claimed parking spots. So to combat dibs, we do not need to shame our neighbors. We just need patience.