PHILADELPHIA Feb 26 Philadelphia police are
using a velvet hammer to crack down on the illegal but
widespread practice of saving parking spaces with furniture,
toilets and other items, by turning to a Twitter hashtag that
"Shoveling a spot from a public street does not make it
yours," Sergeant Eric Gripp, who runs the Philadelphia Police
Department's Twitter account, told Reuters on Wednesday.
With the value of a no-cost street parking spot rising as
quickly as snowbanks this winter, northern cities including
Boston, Chicago and Baltimore are familiar with the problem.
Philadelphia is using social media to take the lead in
raising awareness that saving spots is illegal.
On the police department's twitter page, famed Philadelphian
Ben Franklin, the U.S. founding father known for saying "A penny
saved is a penny earned," is paraphrased in the service of
parking peace: "A parking spot saved is a lesson learned."
Another tagline, with a photo of Kanye West interrupting fellow
singer Taylor Swift at a music awards ceremony, says: "That's a
nice excuse, and Ima let you finish. But saving parking spots is
This season's harsh weather and street-clogging piles of
snow have amplified the age-old battle over street parking,
"Since the advent of the automobile in Philadelphia, we've
had arguments over parking spots," he said.
Over the years, illicit tools used to claim spots have
included commandeered traffic cones, trash cans, lawn chairs and
even a working grandfather clock, Gripp said.
"It was actually keeping time," Gripp.said.
Philadelphia's twitter campaign was started a month ago -
with the hashtag #NoSavesies - and immediately got traction,
with many residents retweeting the message they called an
"The most shocking is the number of that people that did not
know you couldn't do that," Gripp said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg)