That junky furniture in the snowy streets is so much more than just an eyesore and a petty way to claim the public way for private use. The ugliness of tacky street debris has a deeply corrosive effect on our faith in each other, our elected leaders, and our collective civic pride. Let’s first talk about why we need to end it, and then how.
First, the “why”. Dibs are an implicit threat of personal hostility, violence, and vandalism, plain and simple. When we do it or allow it, we are saying that shoveling snow is a form of sweat equity that gives them the right to threaten others. We are saying that this dubious right is more important then our sense of safety and shared access to the public way. We are saying that in Chicago, we let bullies have their way whenever it snows. We are better than that, aren’t we?
Next, the “how”. Does anyone think that the possibility of having their Dibs junk removed by Streets and Sanitation will deter the behavior? City Council needs to provide support for neighborhood associations and block clubs to help them communicate why it’s better for all of us to help clear the snow than it is for each of us to try to guard our individual spots. Part of the support could be an enforcement plan that empowers neighbors to keep their block dibs-free.