Is It Wrong to Move My Neighbor’s Trash Bins Off the Street in Order To Park?

Was I wrong not to respect this person’s “reservation” of the parking space?

(Tony Webster/ Wikimedia Commons)

The other day, I moved some trash bins off the street in  order to park. When I returned, someone had strewn trash on my car and wedged the bins passive-aggressively against it. Was I wrong not to respect this person's "reservation" of the parking space? —Clara H.

Welcome to Portland: If it weren't for passive aggression, we'd have no aggression at all.

As you've probably already guessed, claims like the one your neighbor attempted to make upon the parking space in question are not only not binding, they're not even legal. A city ordinance—17.102.290, for you code fetishists—specifically forbids you to leave your trash bins in the street.

Technically, it's not even legal to leave your bins on that little strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street unless it's trash day. (The name for that grassy area, by the way, is the "furnishing zone," which was also the name of the least-popular Twilight Zone sequel in history.)

If that's not enough, a separate ordinance (16.20.170—yeah, baby, you love it) forbids leaving anything other than a vehicle in a regulated parking space for any amount of time at all.

But before you get too excited imagining the full weight of the justice system raining SWAT teams on your neighbor like he just killed a cop in Grand Theft Auto, you should be aware that enforcement of these regulations is generally limited to the authorities' sending the offender a postcard.

To be fair, I'm told it is a quite strongly worded postcard. Still, if you're thinking it probably won't stop the sort of person who's willing to dump moldy burritos on your hood to prove a point, I'm not going to argue with you.

But perhaps we should count our blessings. I just found four separate incidents in the past few months in which someone was killed over a parking space somewhere in the United States. As far as I can tell, that hasn't happened here. So…yay? It's a low bar, but by God, we cleared it.

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