Wrong to be annoyed by neighbor?
December 22, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

[Annoying Neighbor Filter] Is it fair to consider a neighbor parking directly in front of the sidewalk that goes to the street into your house every day poor form? Especially on a snow day?

This has been happening for years. My previous neighbor did it and my current neighbor does it. They don't have a garage (I guess) and choose to park in front of my house (and theirs) as it is the most direct path to their own home (directly across the street) and it is convenient to them.

Therein lies my problem. There is no consideration for others here in my opinion (myself as well as my visitors). I admit in these turbulent economic times, that this is a minor annoyance, but it burns my wick when I have shoveled a path for my 85 year old grandmother and said path is blocked.

Your input desired MeFites! Annoyance justified?
posted by gnash to Society & Culture (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Whenever our next-door-neighbors have to have the cars out of the driveway, they park directly in front of our house. Not theirs. Since that annoys the hell out of me and it causes me no inconvenience whatsoever, I doubt you're going to get an objective answer from me.

I think since you've shoveled a path for your elderly grandmother and the neighbor is blocking it, there's no harm in asking them nicely to stop parking there, at least in inclement weather.
posted by cooker girl at 11:17 AM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: [Correction]
...in front of the sidewalk that goes FROM the street into your house every day poor form...
posted by gnash at 11:18 AM on December 22, 2008

Ever tried talkin' to them about it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:23 AM on December 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

I dunno about justified, but I'd be annoyed, too.

Perhaps send them a fruit basket and a card with a request to allow you the luxury of using the direct path to your home?
posted by batmonkey at 11:24 AM on December 22, 2008

I'm not clear on how someone parking (legally, I presume?) in the street would block your grandmother's path. Is the situation that you need to be able to pull the car right up to the path in order to accommodate your grandmother and spare her from walking through the snow or in the street?

Street parking is fair game, so I think the annoyance at the mere use of "your" space in front of your house is sort of unreasonable, particularly if you have a garage. That said, it would take a fairly heartless person to intentionally inconvenience an 85-year-old woman. So I imagine if you frame it that way, and only that way (nothing about "my house, my parking, mine!"), your neighbor will respond graciously. Or, if s/he doesn't, s/he's a jerk. I have no idea if your neighbor is a jerk or not.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm still not clear on the geography of this problem. Are you annoyed by them parking in the street in front of your house? You have a sidewalk that goes into your house?!
posted by rhizome at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2008

Yep, it is rude. But maybe it is that they have never had to think out consequences for their actions and since you haven't complained before they didn't know they were being rude. Can you talk to them the next time and point out they are trapping you in your house? There isn't any other way to get them to stop without talking to them. You can also try calling your by-law department (in some areas you can't park on the street in the winter because then the plows can't get through).
posted by saucysault at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2008

Your neighbors park there because it's convenient to them, and because they are not aware of any inconvenience it causes for you. You should be able to fix this with a friendly conversation:

"Good morning. I hate to trouble you, but could I ask you to park on the opposite side of the street, or perhaps a little further down the street? This normally wouldn't be an issue, but I have an elderly grandmother who visits and for her safety I'd like for her to have easy access to my walkway so she's less likely to slip and injure herself. Thanks, neighbor!"
posted by stefanie at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2008 [5 favorites]

You can be livid and justified all you want, but it's not going to accomplish anything until you approach them. The approach most likely to gain acceptance is a generous one that assumes they're ignorant and not malicious.

Dear Neighbor:

I would appreciate it if you would not block the sidewalk in front of my house with your car. My elderly grandmother has trouble walking, especially in the snow, and it would really help her if she had a clear path to the street.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes and happy holidays,
posted by desjardins at 11:27 AM on December 22, 2008

It depends on how closely the houses are spaced. On my street of rowhouses, the houses are often barely wide enough to accomodate a parked car in the first place (seriously, my house is 13 feet wide), and there are two condo buildings, too, so parking is really first come, first served--no one feels entitled to park in front of, or, for that matter, anywhere even close to, their house. If you live in a more spaced-out suburban environment, then, yeah, I'd say it's rude to park in front of someone else's house.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2008

rhizome - this is most likely what gnash is talking about (except probably in concrete) - it's a smaller path from the main sidewalk to the curb
posted by desjardins at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2008

Understandable to be annoyed, but as Meg_Murry said, street parking is first-come, first-served.

Growing up in Detroit, I would shovel a ton of wet snow out of "our" parking spot for my Dad before he came home from work. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to park, and even if he did manage to park, he wouldn't get out in the morning. The other neighbors did the same to "their" spots, and everyone pretty much followed the "rules." But very often, someone else would park in those spots. Either a visitor, or a neighbor who was just clueless, or deliberately didn't care. People resorted to putting garbage cans, chairs, or other items in the spots to mark them. Of course the police would not allow this when they saw it.

So, I feel your pain. Especially when I spent an hour shovelling a space big enough for my Dad's 1973 Olds 88, only to have someone else park in it.

But all you can do is either suck it up, or ask them politely to do you a favor and leave that space for your elderly grandmother. But then, who knows it someone else will park there?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2008

If it's a legal parking spot and does not block a legal footpath or sidewalk, there is not much you can do except explain your concern to them and ask them if they'll stop. Depending on the area of the country you live in you'll either get a "Go f**k yourself" answer or a courteous response.

It's a *public* street. You do not own the parking spot in front of your house, across the street from your house or any parking spot on a publicly-owned street. They have as much right to park there as you do, even if you have a garage and they do not.
posted by camworld at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2008

Life has taught me that it's rarely appropriate to be mad at someone for something they don't know they're doing wrong, particularly when a friendly conversation could bring the issue to their attention and likely fix the whole situation. Why bother getting angry or even annoyed? The only thing that accomplishes is raising YOUR blood pressure and making YOUR day crappier. Like others have said, leave a nice note explaining the grandmother situation, and be patient if they occasionally forget.

Also, I once saw a small yard sign (along the lines of a political campaign sign) that said something like "Please don't block path - Grandma thanks you!" I think it would be kind of passive-aggressive to do this without talking to the offenders or writing them a personal note first, but it can be a nice reminder to them and others.
posted by vytae at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2008

I know exactly what you're talking about, and as the recipient of a "wtf, you selfish c*nt" note under my wiper once (complete with hocked loogie on windshield), I can say they probably don't realize it's bugging you. I had no idea.

Solution: just ask them not to park there next time you see them, since grandma uses the walkway. If you don't ever see them or know who the person is, but it's always the same car, leave a polite note signed "gnash, #100 Main St" (or whatever).

But, know that it IS a legal parking spot, so they are allowed to park there. Hopefully they'll find a new spot, but they're not really under any obligation to, especially if street parking in your neighborhood is at a premium. If someone asked me to not park there, but it was the only available spot...I'd probably park there.

(For whatever it's worth, I park on the street now, and am currently parked 1.5 blocks away around a corner, so that's what my neighborhood is like for parking.)
posted by AlisonM at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2008

If you live in the city, and it's always the same car, I think the best you can do is just ask them and hope they're nice. Street parking in the city is first-come, first-served, and that's that.

But. If you live in the suburbs or in a neighborhood where the houses are less densely spaced (mailboxes out by the curb), I think you're right to be annoyed when people park in front of your house - yes, it's a public street and a public curb, but come on. Unfortunately, the remedy is exactly the same as above.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:48 AM on December 22, 2008

Assuming that you're talking detached houses, not rowhouses, I know exactly what you're talking about, and yeah, it's totally tacky. (Rowhouse streets are a different story.)

Instead of being irate, just assume that they're being clueless. Ask them nicely to not block the footpath and they'll probably apologize for their thoughtlessness.
posted by desuetude at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2008

I'm not sure that it's "wrong" to feel a certain way but I don't know that I'd say they're really doing anything wrong/rude/tacky. You seem to suggest that they can't park in front of their own house and the spots in front of yours are closest?

That suggests, to me, that there are fewer spots than houses . . . which makes the spot in front of your house not yours at all. Go ahead and ask them to stop, but if they don't, eh, I can't say that I blame them.
posted by toomuchpete at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2008

What worked for me was leaving a friendly note under the wiper of our neighbor's car. Our neighbors have teenaged sons and 2 trucks plus an SUV (plus some sort of rig that they use to transport their dirtbikes with) which they would take turns parking in front of our house. It drove me bonkers for months because they could have easily parked their vehicles across the street in front of the vacant corner house, or, heaven forbid, clean their garage and park there.

I finally just left a note asking them to please not park in front of our house because it was inconveniencing us when we had company or needed to park their ourselves. They were very nice about it and just started parking across the street at the vacant house. No drama at all. You might want to seal the deal with a nice batch of homemade cookies -- just to show there are no hard feelings.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:24 PM on December 22, 2008

My mother-in-law had this problem. Eventually the annoying neighbor died. I know this isn't a very practical solution but I think it's a good way to live your life. Eventually the annoying people in your life will go away on their own either though you simply outlasting them or they move away.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:27 PM on December 22, 2008

Detached houses or not, you don't own the street outside of your house, so they have every right to park there. You can ask if they can park elsewhere, citing your elderly grandmother's need to walk into the street...in a snowstorm... (?), but finders-keepers when it comes to street parking, I say.
posted by NikitaNikita at 12:31 PM on December 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would be annoyed, but I would feel bad for feeling that way because the neighbors probably don't know that their parking is getting on my nerves.

Unless it's regularly causing you a major inconvenience (that can be articulated without sounding petty) and they also have a suitable alternative, then I don't know how you ask them not to park there without sounding like you're wound kind of tight.

If it were me, I would also probably be thinking that you only have a certain number of "hey, would you mind doing me a favor and (not doing X or starting to do Y or whatever)" with each neighbor and I might not want to use it up on the parking issue.
posted by KAS at 12:54 PM on December 22, 2008

Why don't you just park there and have your grandmother park in the driveway?
posted by ODiV at 12:59 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

This may be a matter of local custom. Where I grew up, you were lucky if you could park within a block of your front door. Where I live now, you generally have the curb in front to yourself, and some people do have (what I consider) an expansive sense of their property rights that extends into the street.

It is possible that your neighbors have never encountered the sentiment that the street in front of your house should be reserved for you, and do not share it. So talk to them, explain to them you'd like to keep that space clear for your grandmother, and don't be accusatory. Unless they're anti-social louts, they'll most likely cooperate.
posted by adamrice at 1:38 PM on December 22, 2008

i like the nice note--considering they have done it for years with no objection from you, they have no idea that it bothers you.

alert them that your elderly grandmother has begun to have difficulty walking and you would appreciate it if they would leave the space in front of your house empty. you will let them know in advance when she will visit.

invite her to visit often. she will enjoy this, and after a while, your neighbors will start to feel like they are imposing on this nice little old lady too much and just start parking elsewhere.

if they push back, you could just push all the shoveled snow onto their car. it would be passive-aggressive, but satisfying.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:42 PM on December 22, 2008

Response by poster: All good comments my thanks again.

I have been planning on having a direct conversation w/ the neighbors about it but have stopped myself because I was wondering if I was justified (I wouldn't do a note or a sign I like handling things in person).

I know that I don't own the space in front of the house. It is just with detached housing as some have noted (which I have) when there is plenty of space I thought it was poor form to block the sidewalk up to the house (as noted by desjardins picture).

I don't have a real build up of secret hate for the neighbor it just struck me as a bit odd and off-putting that it never occurred to them / cared. It is probably in part despite my moniker (gnash) I am a pretty courteous person.
posted by gnash at 1:52 PM on December 22, 2008

Detached houses or not, you don't own the street outside of your house, so they have every right to park there.

Sure it's "legal"... but why? when they have a perfectly good space in front of their house.

This is probably not malicious... Just cluelesness... Our neighbours (suburbia) had relatives leave their car in-front of our house for 5 days this summer. Every time my wife backed out of the garage she was worried about hitting it. Eventually, she called the city, they placed a warning sticker and thankfully (IMO) the relatives came back in-time to move the vehicle before it was impounded...

(My wife and I disagreed on handling this issue...)
posted by jkaczor at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2008

Someone once left a note like this on my car and it pissed me off because it was a public street and everyone parked wherever they could. In fact I showed it to my neighbors and took it to work and we all made fun of the passive aggressive-ness of it all.

So you take the risk of being mocked by your block and an entire office building. fyi.
posted by fshgrl at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2008

It's a public street. You do not own the space in the public street just because it's in front of your house. If you do talk to your neighbors about it, and they do stop parking there, they are being incredibly generous and thoughtful towards you. It's a freaking public street and anyone can park anywhere they want on a public street. The sense of entitlement some people have about the space on a public street in front of their house just drives me crazy. If there were a pothole in that part of the street, would you fill it in yourself? No, you'd call the city and they'd fix it, because it's a public street.
posted by twiggy32 at 6:05 PM on December 22, 2008

Response by poster: I am assuming fshgrl and twiggy32 you did not read my response / addendum.
posted by gnash at 7:08 PM on December 22, 2008

I was once on the other side of this situation, in suburban Seattle. The offended neighbor actually came to the door, rang the doorbell, and handed me a note, asking me to post it on the fridge where everyone could see it. The note explained how discourteous it was for my housemates and I to park in front of other people's houses, how they expected it not to continue, how they would call the police if necessary, etc.

I wrote a note back, which I later slid into his mailslot, and there ended the conversation. It went something like this:

"Dear neighbors,

Thank you so much for your note. You do not own the street, and we will park anywhere we please. In fact, from now on, we will make a point of parking in front of your house as often as possible, even when there is another spot available. If you think that there is some kind of authority on your side in this matter, we encourage you to invoke it."
posted by bingo at 7:29 PM on December 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

There is local custom to consider here. In South Philly, for example, whenever we go to visit friends in the winter, we are invariably reminded that we are not to take shoveled spots that are marked with lawn chairs or garden gnomes or what-have-you, as the local custom is to beat the crap out of anyone who takes someone else's space. in this part of this town, the convention is honored.

What's the local custom in your neighborhood? Does everyone park in front of their house and would they not think of parking in front of someone else's?

There is likely no law that mandates that they park in front of their house and frankly, speaking as someone who lives in a city in which parking can be a part-time job, it's hard for me to see any sovereignty you might have over a space.

That said, you are talking about the elderly, and if that is your real reason, I can't see anyone not being willing to honor it. However, they are not required to. and if i came home after a long day of work, i would take the first spot i saw. sorry.
posted by micawber at 8:20 PM on December 22, 2008

Micawber makes an excellent point: the local custom in your neighborhood should dictate your approach. In my area (suburbs, California) where there is plenty of parking at each address -- two and three car garages, two spots in each driveway, and enough room at the curb for two full sized trucks -- it's considered douchey to habitually park in front of your neighbor's house. Everyone knows it's not a law; it's just common courtesy. In the city, however, it's everyone for themselves.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:14 PM on December 22, 2008

Does your grandma live nearby? Could you pay for a cab for her instead - at least when the weather is bad, to save her having to drive/you having to shovel snow/your blood pressure skyrocketing? I know it's not necessarily the solution you're looking for, and the cab would still need somewhere to pull in, but at least it removes the stress associated with your neighbours' parking.
posted by highrise at 11:08 PM on December 22, 2008

move house?
posted by edtut at 5:05 AM on December 23, 2008

Fascinating. An Askme full of opinions, and no one uses the one single word which relates to the issue in a legal way. Sure, lots of times you get plenty of noise and then someone comes along that really knows.

I no authority. But I do know a little tiny bit of the law as regards such things. The magic word is "easement". Where I come from, home owners do not own the strip of grass between their houses and the street. Instead, they have an easement to cross. This is the same legal tool by which, for example, power companies run wires across someone's land, or sometimes farmers have an easement to reach acreage not reachable by road.

The fact that there is a sidewalk connecting your property to the street at that location makes me wonder whether, in fact, your deed includes an easement for that sidewalk. This would make it no different than if they parked in front of your driveway. Of course, the reason they park there is so the driver is on the side of the car away from the snow. And, I don't doubt, the snow makes it impossible for them to park far enough away from the snow bank so that a visitor could walk around the car to reach that sidewalk.
posted by Goofyy at 6:54 AM on December 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks again for the input.

This has been a great thread and I appreciate the input from all.

Some of the answers did surprise me. I was interested to see there is a prevailing need w/ some of the MeFites - those who feel the need to point out it is a public street that I do not own (which is obvious and I acknowledged at least once for those that didn't read it).

Again, it is a public street. I do find some of the responses with a sense of entitlement a little off-putting. I will put out there for consideration that just because you can (park wherever you want on a public street) doesn't mean you should (when there is plenty of parking on the street at all times and parking 1 - 2 feet shorter would mean that you wouldn't block the sidewalk to my house but still have a very convenient path to your own).

And yes, the majority of people in my area observe local custom and do not block the sidewalk (as it is in most cities with similar detached housing and parking availability).

Finally, my grandmother is real and visiting from NM for a few months :).
posted by gnash at 8:26 AM on December 23, 2008

I admire your calm, gnash. I think of it as public space and you don't really get to have any say at all. You can certainly talk to the neighbor but they are are in the right if they ignore you. It sounds like you just want them to park a few feet back though (hard to tell without pictures) so it shouldn't be a big deal.
posted by chairface at 3:34 PM on December 23, 2008

We had one family on the block where I grew up who would leave notes for their neighbors when they parked in front of the family's house. The rest of us on the block made fun of that family. Street parking is public, free, not owned by any one household, etc.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:10 PM on December 27, 2008

Jeepers, don't bother answering if you can't read the question or look at the photo. gnash is NOT objecting to people parking in front of his house. He has actually suggested they do so in his reponse several times. He IS objecting to parking in specifically in front of the two feet that allow him access to his house.

I have a similar problem, if someone parks in front of the path to my house the only way I can get to my front door is walking through my flowerbed (great on muddy days and wonderful for my flowers) or in winter walking though snowbanks that are about three feet high. It would be nice for Grandma to walk on the clear path he has shoveled. Does that make it any clearer for the people that aren't reading his question? He doesn't care about parking in front of his house, he just would like to be able to GET to his house. Maybe if his question was "my neighbours keep parking on the street in front of my driveway so I can't get in or out of my driveway without driving over my lawn" gnash would be getting a bit more sympathy. After all, the cars are parking on a public street, he shouldn't have any say on where they park even if they are blocking him in. Why do cars get more consideration than people?
posted by saucysault at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2008

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