Parking Space Savers in East Boston: Winter Survival Guide 2024

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Can you use parking space savers in East Boston?

It’s that time of year again, when a huge snow storm could arrive in Boston at any moment. The roads will be covered in snow, driving will become even more of a white-knuckled adventure than it normally is—and out will come parking space savers.

This post covers all you need to know about space savers in East Boston, and in Boston in general, to get you through the winter months!

What is a parking space saver?

When we first moved to Boston, I had no idea what a space saver was.

I remember seeing people putting chairs, trash cans, and other random objects along the street and thought it must just be a bunch of strange people trying to hoard parking spaces for themselves. I didn’t realize this is a well-accepted winter survival tactic.

Essentially, a parking space saver is exactly what it sounds like. You save a parking space so others can’t take it during the snowy winter months when parking spots are especially tricky to maneuver in and harder to find.

In fair weather times, street parking in Boston is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are many parking rules and permits to abide by (and a million different signs to alert you), but generally, street parking spots are not assigned.

In the winter, however, not every parking spot is created equal. People spend hours shoveling out their own spaces, so it’s reasonable to expect that those spaces should not just be available to anyone. Everyone should do their fair share.

The rules of parking space saving

There are some guidelines to keep in mind when saving parking spaces in Boston:

  • As much as you might wish you could save a parking space at any time, they are only allowed during a city-declared snow emergency.
  • You have to remove your space saver no later than 48 hours after a snow emergency has ended.
  • Before claiming a space as your own, you need to shovel it out yourself. Do not save a space someone else has cleaned.
  • Do not save a space before the snow emergency has ended. For example, you can’t put a chair in a parking space when it has just started snowing.
  • Do not put a space saver on a road that has been plowed by the city. You are only entitled to saving a space that you cleaned yourself.
Spacer saver in East Boston

Example of what NOT to do: Save a space while it’s still snowing and the space hasn’t been cleaned yet.

Are parking space savers allowed in East Boston?

Yes, space savers are allowed on streets in East Boston as long as there isn’t a sign prohibiting parking for residents or the general public. All parking signs still apply during and after a snow emergency.

Where are parking space savers not allowed in Boston?

Space savers are officially banned in the South End neighborhood of Boston. (They are allowed in every other Boston neighborhood.)

You also can’t use a space saver on a road that has been cleaned by the city. You can only save a space that you cleaned yourself.

Additionally, it’s important to note that parking is not allowed on main roads during a snow emergency to give easy access to plows and emergency vehicles.

  • If in doubt about whether parking is allowed during an emergency, there are always signs along the roads that say whether they need to be cleared or not.
  • If you park on a road marked for clearing during a snow emergency, you will be ticketed or towed.

What happens if you take someone else’s saved parking space?

If you take someone else’s parking space that they’ve already cleaned, be warned that things could get ugly. Like Carrie Underwood’s “dug my key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive” kind of ugly.

Car vandalism is not unheard of in Boston for those who don’t abide by the rules of the space saving game. I don’t think it’s right—in fact, people can get downright nasty about all of this. But I prefer to play it safe.

My advice: If you want to keep your car intact, don’t steal someone else’s space.

Even if your car isn’t messed with, you will likely get an angry note on your windshield.

It’s common courtesy to follow the unwritten rules of space saving, and the biggest rule is: “If you didn’t clean the parking space, it’s not yours to take.”

Note: If it’s been more than 48 hours after a snow emergency, all parking spaces become fair game again. No one is entitled to a space saver anymore.

Are parking space savers allowed by the City of Boston?

When I first saw space savers in Boston, I thought it was something residents did at their own risk. Not true!

Actually, the City of Boston has enacted an official policy allowing for the use of space savers during snow emergencies. The only caveat is that they must be removed within 48 hours after the end of the snow emergency.

As stated earlier, South End is the only Boston neighborhood where space savers are not allowed by the city.

View of East Boston and Boston skyline in the winter

What objects can you use to save your parking space?

The sky is the limit! No, really, there are no rules about what you can or can’t use as a space saver. This means people can get quite creative. You might see things like giant stuffed animals, statues of famous people, washing machines, and toilets.

But the most common objects I have seen people use are beach chairs, trash bins, and crates. Whatever you use, make sure it’s something you wouldn’t be too sad about having stolen.

A lot of people use this opportunity to get rid of items they no longer want, like old TVs or furniture. Once the 48 hours after the emergency are over, the city usually comes through and confiscates all remaining space savers. Bye, bye, old mattress!

Can visitors use a space saver in East Boston?

Since there is no assigned parking on most streets in Boston, visitors can use space savers, too, as long as they or the friends/relatives they are visiting cleaned out the space for them.

Just make sure the street that visitors are parking on is not marked for residents only. Parking attendants will check to see if you have a resident parking sticker on your car, and if you don’t have one, you’ll get a pretty orange parking ticket on your windshield.

Visitors also still need to pay attention to parking limits and meters in the winter. In East Boston, a lot of visitor parking is limited to only two hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

Again, attendants are vigilant and will notice if visitors are staying in a space too long. We had a guest get ticketed near our place in East Boston before. 🙁

When is there snow in Boston?

Typically, there is a chance for snow in Boston from November through March. January and February are usually the months with the heaviest snowfall.

The amount of snowfall varies from year to year, but it’s not uncommon for Boston to have 2-3 larger snow storms in January or February, with a snow accumulation of 5 inches or more.

Boston’s top 10 snow storms on record with the weather service led to over 20 inches of snow accumulation at one time!

Road in East Boston during a snow storm

Other winter survival tips for East Boston (and Boston in general)

  • If you don’t want to worry about street parking during a snow emergency, the City of Boston offers Boston residents with a resident parking sticker discounted parking in many garages.
    • The discount begins two hours before a snow emergency is declared and stops two hours after the emergency ends. Check out this list of garages offering discounts.

  • Always have a snow scraper and shovel in your car or close at hand. Boston usually gets A LOT of snow in the winter, so you’ll be needing both of those items often.

  • Make sure your car has a constant supply of de-icer for cleaning the windshield. And store one or two blankets in your car for emergencies.

  • For your safety, make sure snow is cleared away from your car’s exhaust pipe before turning the motor on.

Planning a trip to Boston in the winter?

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