Tag: parking wars

The Great Baltimore Parking-in-the-Snow Chair Battle

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Pittsburgh_Parking_Chair

Originally published March 4, 2014 – Usually, Baltimore’s winters aren’t snowy enough for the serious, Chicago-style chair fights to break out. But with this year, it’s getting heated again.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The practice of shoveling out a parking spot, then putting a chair there all day so no one can take it while you’re gone. The pro-chair crowd argues that their hard work should be rewarded; by shoveling out that spot, they are essentially investing sweat equity in the property. And the anti-chair crowd says that they are selfish jerks.

This whole fight raises a lot of questions — for example, if you actually remove the chair in a shoveled-out spot, are you righting a wrong, or just doubling down on jerkiness? Are chairs put out to save spots fair game for, um, gathering? Should you write a passive aggressive note if someone steals your spot? If you don’t put a chair in the spot you shovel out, are you sure you’re not a Communist?

Baltimore Homeowners Forced to Reimburse the City for Tax Errors

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When parking enforcement puts a boot on your car, after you pay off  your tickets and get the key to remove it, it’s incumbent on you to return the boot within 24 hours or its considered theft. That’s always rankled me. If I were headed to return a boot and I saw a police car parked illegally, I’d be tempted to slap the boot on, flee to Canada, and change my name to Jean-Pierre O’Clanahan. (Now, to be clear, I would never actually do this — even though it would make a great episode of Parking Wars — if for no other reason than I’m sure I’d never figure how to get it on the wheel.)

The point is — even if it’s legally justified — when the city places a demand on you, especially one with a quick, uncompromising deadline, it’s easy to resent the feeling of coercion. That must be how a few Baltimore City homeowners are feeling right now. They’ve been unknowingly receiving erroneous tax credits from the city for several years, and are now being required to cough up the total or face stiff penalties and interest. And get this, the city wouldn’t even be aware of these errors were it not for an investigative piece in The Baltimore Sun.

The affected homeowners, who have received in error anywhere from $1,700 to $9,200 over the course of several years, are being told to pay it all back in 30 days, or else. C’mon, city! Is the fact that this was largely your error any kind of mitigating factor here? You act like they went and stole the total in cash off your coffee table. The money isn’t just sitting in their homes in large dollar-sign bags while they figure out how to launder it.

If you’re one of these people who’s about to settle up with the city with a big honking check, promise me you’ll write something really classy in the memo line.

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