Do I have to give dibs to a higher priced Cubs parking space seller?
April 17, 2008 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Wrigleyville residents/capitalist theorists: am I obliged to honor the "dibs" system while selling my parking spot during Cubs night games?

We own a place about 2 blocks from Wrigley Field, and for night games we often park on the street and then sell our empty private parking spot. We generally don't plan ahead for this; we just do it if we are at home anyway. I like the concept of it, and the money pays for take out that night.

The going rate for parking so close to the ballpark is typically $30, but because I'm more interested in quick money than maximum profit I charge $20. This usually guarantees me a fast sell. If I had to charge $30 and compete for a buyer, I'd probably sell half as often because it would not be worth it for me from a time standpoint.

So last night, I went out to the entrance to the alley and there were already two other parking sellers there waving at cars. Each of them had at least two spots to sell, and each was charging $30. One of the sellers told me in pretty pointed terms that (1) I should be charging $30 like the rest of them, and (2) there is a well-established "dibs" system that calls for later arriving sellers to stand down until the earlier ones have sold their spots. She then tried to put me in my place by saying that I must be new to the area. The other seller there agreed that the dibs system is known and honored around the neighborhood.

I explained that I've lived there five years, that I price my parking to sell quickly, and that she is free to charge whatever she wants but I shouldn't have to wait for her to get a higher price while other cars may be passing her by looking for a deal like mine. Nonetheless, to be nice I let her and the other woman have a car each, then started selling mine. After I got my buyer, I am told by a neighbor that these two other sellers were bad-mouthing me for not allowing them to sell out their spots first and for undercutting their price. Some thanks.

To me, market economics rules here. If I want to sell for a cheaper price, I can do that and I get the benefit of the first car that comes. If they want the first car they can match my price or go lower. To them, we should all be in it together, and price competition will just minimize profit for everyone. So which rules here? Am I being a bad neighbor for not following the unwritten rule, or should I be free to undercut my neighbor's price and jump the queue?

(I will note that both sellers totally tried to poach my customer even after I allowed them their turn first, and that there are literally sellers at every corner so there's no way to do a dibs system except at the most local level.)

(I will also note that while I have in the past heard half-hearted complaints from other sellers that I was undercutting them, they seemed to accept that this was part of the game. After all, we are all out there to soak suburbanites in the first place.)
posted by AgentRocket to Human Relations (38 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
No snark intended, but: Is it really worth $10 to get stuck with the label of "that guy" on the block? The answer to this question should tell you whether you are obliged to honor the dibs system, because obviously you're not going to find a city ordinance on this (yet.)

[Fellow Lake View resident, but no dog in this fight because I don't own a parking space or have a car.]
posted by veggieboy at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2008


Sell your spot for whatever you damn well please. After all, you're only one guy, and it sounds like they're selling lots of spaces. One customer gets a deal, and then they can continue hosing people for however much they want to charge.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Unlike the sacred Chicago rule of I-shoveled-out-this-spot-and-marked-it-with-a-chair-so-its-MINE! this "dibs" system you speak of seems like a voluntary thing. Market forces rule. You keep doing like you are doing.

Although if you are two blocks away I can't imagine you not selling your spot at the higher rate, it would just take longer. Do your neighbors ever come away empty handed?
posted by Bonzai at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2008


This is a stupid system. If they set the price to be something totally unreasonable like $100, would you then be stuck with not selling a place at all?

There's no moral imperative to participate in their price-fixing scheme (in fact, quite the contrary). As veggieboy says, the only consideration is that you'll piss off your neighbors if you do this, whether that is justifiable or not. Do you care?
posted by grouse at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2008


I'm in the Wrigley end of Lakeview and I had no idea people parked on the street and sold their private spaces during night games. I think that's a horribly rude thing to do to your neighbors who have night game permits for street parking because they have no provate parking. Their permits are worth less because they still have to fight against a higher volume of streetparked cars on game nights. You're already not considering your neighbors, so go ahead and undercut and screw specifically the folks who are screwing the neighborhood generally.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yeah, one of the things that's really lousy about Chicago is the whole concept of dibs, especially digging out parking spaces and chairs/cones/crates in Chinatown. I didn't realize that extended to your 'hood, but it both makes sense to and depresses me.

I was going to say that Wrigleyville is full of non-natives anyway, so it's kinda hard for those people to argue on tradition - but that's not the issue. The issue is your neighbors - who are already suffering the expense and frankly inconvenience of living in that part of town - are also sweating you over a measly $10.

Knowing what you know now, why even bother being nice about it? Sell out your space and get on with your life.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2008


My read that it dosen't really matter what's right, or how this market should work. It's just not worth pissing off people who know where you live, and where you park.

If your read is that they're just a little grumpy about it, that's one thing. Go for the undercut. But if they're truly angry (like potentially vengeful), it's so not worth it for you.
posted by Perplexity at 10:55 AM on April 17, 2008


Wow, I would have no qualms about selling it for $20. But you could offer the spot to one of your neighbors for $20 and let them sell it for $30 if they think the market can bear it.
posted by Durin's Bane at 11:00 AM on April 17, 2008 [11 favorites]


Uh, sounds like chatfilter to me. Aren't you really just asking for a rationalization for your current behavior? If you were really interested in ethics, you wouldn't be, "out there to soak suburbanites in the first place." By purposefully parking on the street to open up your private spot that you can sell, you're taking a public resource for personal gain. See also: Tragedy of the commons.

So, if there's any ethical dilemma here, it's whether you believe in honor among thieves. In economic terms, your neighbors are engaging in price fixing and cartel behavior.
posted by Skwirl at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Which is more important to you: being a good neighbor or being a good businessperson? There seem to be established community norms that you aren't following, which is fine if your goal is to be a better businessperson but it does come with the disadvantage of being seen as a "bad" neighbor.

If the neighborhood spaces don't sell out, I can see where your neighbors would be extra annoyed, because then they're out $30. If they do sell out, maybe you could compromise by setting up shop closer to game time so you can still get your $20, save time, and stay in your neighbors' good graces. And on preview, Durin's Bane's idea seems like a win-win.
posted by stefanie at 11:10 AM on April 17, 2008


Wow, I would have no qualms about selling it for $20. But you could offer the spot to one of your neighbors for $20 and let them sell it for $30 if they think the market can bear it.

This is what I was going to suggest. Tell the neighbor she can fill your spot and charge whatever she wants if she gives you $20 up front. Saves you the time, she can make a little more money and maybe even keeps everyone happy.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 11:21 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Both (1) and (2) are probably illegal. You can't collude with other sellers to fix prices, and you can't prevent other people from competing with your business. Call the cops on your neighbors.
posted by Dec One at 11:21 AM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stuff like this makes me thank the city fathers for the Red Line.
posted by po822000 at 11:22 AM on April 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Seconding crush-onastick -- I've had to park in lakeview plenty of times, and what you're doing is really shitty in the first place. You're making it difficult/impossible for legitimate residents in your region (not just on your block - anywhere with the same permit #) to park when they get home.

On a winter night when there's no cubs game, I've spent as much as an hour and a half looking for a parking space (with a legitimate permit 383). It's bad enough as it is, and this practice just makes it that much worse. It ought to be illegal.

So, as crush-onastick said - you're already not thinking about your OTHER neighbors well being, so who gives a crap about the other neighbors like you and what they think? Sell it for $5 just to piss them off.
posted by twiggy at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2008


Both (1) and (2) are probably illegal. You can't collude with other sellers to fix prices, and you can't prevent other people from competing with your business. Call the cops on your neighbors.

Are you kidding? You think the cops are going to worry about price collusion at this level? In fact, I would bet it's a civil matter anyway.
posted by delmoi at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


i'll also agree with crash. but if you are going to be rude, then charge what you want, but follow this version of 'dibs', and don't undercut yr neighbors price. best if you get out earlier to sell your space.
posted by lester at 11:40 AM on April 17, 2008


You're already being a shitty neighbor by taking away a street spot and then forcing someone to pay for parking, so what are you so worried about? Jump the queue, undercut prices...if you're going to be underhanded, at least go all the way.
posted by cosmic osmo at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


or, you know, what crush on a stick said already.
posted by cosmic osmo at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2008


I'm surprised so many people are suggesting you submit to bullying from your neighbors.

Street parking is available to anyone. Since there is no money-based bidding system for street parking, the spot goes to the person who arrives the earliest. The fact that you have parking available on your property does not mean you have an obligation to use it for your own car. You have just as much right as a suburbanite to the street parking near your home.

You know from experience that a parking spot close to the stadium has a value of at least $20. You can ask whatever you want for the spot, and have no obligation to collude with your neighbors. You can offer free parking if you want; it's your property. Your neighbors can likewise ask whatever they want for their parking spots. If their spot is empty all night, it's because they charged more than the market price.

To those of you suggesting the poster be neighborly, suppose the question was, "Hi I'm Chevron, my neighbor Shell says that since he opened an hour earlier than me, I can't offer any gas at $3.50/gal until he sells his entire supply for $10/gal. Does Shell have dibs?"

I've had to park in lakeview plenty of times, and what you're doing is really shitty in the first place. You're making it difficult/impossible for legitimate residents in your region (not just on your block - anywhere with the same permit #) to park when they get home.

You're already being a shitty neighbor by taking away a street spot and then forcing someone to pay for parking

There won't be free parking next to the stadium right before a game. If AgentRocket doesn't park there, someone else will. No one is forced to pay for parking. Fans are choosing to pay for parking, because they want to trade $20 for the convenience. With this system more people have the option to park close to the stadium, not just those who can skip work and get there early.
posted by reeddavid at 11:59 AM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


reeddavid: I understand where you're coming from - but it's obviously NOT Chicago. There's two key points you're not understanding that are allowing you to make your argument.

The parking 1) isn't free. 2) isn't "right next" to the stadium or even necessarily within a few blocks.

These spots are permit only spots. You must pay the city for a permit to park in them, and you must live on those streets to even be eligible to buy a permit. You are allowed a number of "guest permits" per month that you must also pay for.

Furthermore, these spots are not "right next to the stadium" -- they're within blocks, even a mile or so of the stadium -- yes, a mile doesn't seem that far, but in a huge congested city, there's a crapton of stuff smooshed into a one mile radius.

Street parking is NOT available to anyone - it's available to paying residents of the area -- who are paying for a city service and reselling it at a higher value at the expense of their neighbors' ability to park on the street with their permits or have guests over to their homes.
posted by twiggy at 12:10 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


reeddavid: you see, there is free parking next to the field right before the game. You just need a residential parking permit to park there. There are some blocks (supposedly) that you need a resident's permit to drive down during games (they give them out in my building's office, but I've never seen them in use. My space sits empty; I don't own a car) That's the point. Street parking during games is reserved for residents because, well, Wrigley Field is slap in the middle of a neighborhood. The poster, who has nonstreet parking, is taking street parking he does not need and another resident does, in order to make twenty bucks off someone who is not legally permitted to park on the street during night games. They're all screwing their neighbors, so who cares whether they screw each other out of ten bucks?
posted by crush-onastick at 12:10 PM on April 17, 2008


nth the "sell your spot to your neighbor for $20 and let them resell it.", but with a twist: I would offer to sell to them for $30 and negotiate down from there. This way, you are extracting as much from your neighbor as you can. As long as the negotiated price is more than $20, you are better off (you make extra money plus you don't have the hassle of finding a buyer) and the neighbor is better off (price collusion is preserved, plus they pocket the difference between your negotiated price and $30). Horray Pareto efficiency!
posted by jtfowl0 at 12:11 PM on April 17, 2008


Many neighborhoods in Chicago, including Wrigleyville, have permit street parking. The smart things for cheap suburbanites to do it park in a non-permit part of town and take the El to Wrigley. Of course, this is a bit inconvenient. So parking in the street doesn't affect people going to the game, because most wouldn't have the correct permit anyway. Parking in the street does affect his neighbors without personal parking spaces.
posted by Bunglegirl at 12:21 PM on April 17, 2008


Former Chicago resident here. Sell your private space for whatever you like; the wrath of your local price-fixers is the price you should pay for inconveniencing your neighbors who rely solely on permit parking for the sake of 20 bucks.

Oh, and one more thing.... Go White Sox!
posted by scody at 12:27 PM on April 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, in the interest of fairness for those who are who claim the OP is "screwing over the neighbors for $20"....in actuality, its more like $1700 over the course of the whole season, assuming the spot is sold for all home games. Not sure if the $ difference fundamentally changes anything, but $1700 is a lot more than $20, to me at least. Just saying.
posted by jtfowl0 at 12:35 PM on April 17, 2008


Response by poster: Wow; I didn't forsee the direction this has gone, and feel compelled to defend myself.

1. Night game parking is the easiest parking of the year for permit holders, so my neighbors without a spot are not inconvenienced. I got home at 7 o'clock last night, just before first pitch. There were more than 5 spots open with a block of my place because of the strict night game permit requirements. On a non-game night, I'd be searching for one open spot within two blocks. So the premise that I am hosing my other permit-holding neighbors isn't factually true.

2. My ability/right to park on the street should not be diminished by the availability to me of off-street parking. As twiggy notes, in order to park on the street on Cubs games we must pay the City for both a city sticker and a parking permit. I pay for that for both cars that we have even though I have off-street parking. As a result, why should I not have the same right as any other permit holder to park my own car on the street? If I were selling a public spot by offering to move with payment, or if I were selling the guest permits I have for street parking, that's one thing. But parking my own car on the street with the permit I paid for seems something else entirely.

3. Wrigleyville residents without off-street parking know what they're up against. We live 2 blocks from a baseball field known for its partying fans, and within a mile of dozens of bars and restaurants. It is absolutely known that street parking is a pain in the butt. We have 2 cars, and always have to have 1 of them on the street. On non-Cubs days this is often a difficult task. On New Year's Eve, on game days when the Sox or Cardinals play the Cubs, or on St. Patty's Day, it is nearly impossible. But people know that when they move in. It's a trade off we were willing to make for all the benefits that come with living there.

I realize this response will not make me any more popular, but I can't accept that it is either "shitty" or "horribly rude" or "screwing my neighbors" to use my permit to park my car on the street for free at 7:00 because that might mean other people can't use their permit to park their car on the street for free at 8:00.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:40 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Still - you're basically reselling a city service (by proxy.. sort of like money laundering but obviously not exactly the same) that is intended to benefit residents and allow them a place to park.
posted by twiggy at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2008


Of everything commented on so far, the one moment I thought "hey, that's a great idea" was when I read Durin's Bane's comment. I think his is the way to go, were I in your situation.
posted by WCityMike at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2008


The OP apparently DOES have a street permit and a personal (and private!) parking spot.

What's wrong with him parking in the street if he is paying for a permit to park in the street?

What he does with the driveway he owns is his own business.
posted by Pants! at 12:55 PM on April 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


If he paid for the permit, then he should be able to use it.

It sounds like the permit system makes parking a Club Good (a group of members pays for exclusive use of a pool of parking spots, and under normal circumstances parking is non-rival, meaning there are enough spots to go around).

AgentRocket's private parking space is a Private Good (he can exclude others from parking there, and it is rivalrous, meaning one person's use of the spot precludes another person's use).

He could park both cars on the street all the time if he wanted to. He's not reselling a city service, he is selling exclusive access to his own property (a private good). I think the fact that he pays for street parking makes it even more clear-cut that he has every right to park there.

Permit parking in this case is like holding a family membership to an outdoor swimming pool. On a sunny July 4th the pool will be crowded, because more members than usual want to use the pool. Someone who has a private pool at home is still allowed to join (and use) the pool club, even if they usually swim at home.
posted by reeddavid at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2008


The "why" he shouldn't do it is--as pointed out above--the tragedy of the commons. Street parking is a public good which he does not need, having a private good which serves that purpose. He is appropriating the public good for private gain, denying residents with no choice but to use the public good access to it on nights when it is restricted to use only by residents. Clearly there are people who think that is appropriate to do so because it is his personal property and there are those who think it is not because we all have to share limited resources in a congested neighborhood on nights when there is an influx of nonresidents.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:35 PM on April 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


He is appropriating the public good for private gain, denying residents with no choice but to use the public good access to it on nights when it is restricted to use only by residents.

Night game parking is the easiest parking of the year for permit holders, so [his] neighbors without a spot are not inconvenienced. [He] got home at 7 o'clock last night, just before first pitch. There were more than 5 spots open with a block of [his] place because of the strict night game permit requirements. On a non-game night, [he]'d be searching for one open spot within two blocks. So the premise that [he is] hosing [his] other permit-holding neighbors isn't factually true.
posted by j.edwards at 3:50 PM on April 17, 2008


Does your parking space have a gate? The only problem I see with Durin Bane's idea is that once you've deputized your neighbor to sell your spot once, she might get the idea to do it again some evening when you haven't gotten home yet.
posted by yarrow at 4:32 PM on April 17, 2008


Let market forces rule. Charge whatever the hell you want. I would offer the spot to one of your neighbors for the $20 first, they may be quite happy to make an extra $10 for a few more minutes of effort. OTOH, if they continue to be total pricks about it all, you might ask casually if "the IRS gets their cut". That may shut them up, but it won't make them friends. Although these people sound like folks I wouldn't be rushing to be friends with in any case.
posted by barc0001 at 5:01 PM on April 17, 2008


This tragedy of the commons talk is silly. That's not what it is. Street parking in that area of the city is not freely accessible (permit only) and residents pay for the privilege to use it, so it's not a common good.

It is parking on the street because you are using the garage for something else. It's nobody's business whether you're storing a piano or letting a friend park there.
posted by gjc at 8:08 PM on April 17, 2008


Are you kidding? You think the cops are going to worry about price collusion at this level? In fact, I would bet it's a civil matter anyway.

Well, yes, I was kind of kidding about calling the cops. But there's a reason this kind of thing is illegal. Maybe someone else will articulate that reason better than I have...

"Hi I'm Chevron, my neighbor Shell says that since he opened an hour earlier than me, I can't offer any gas at $3.50/gal until he sells his entire supply for $10/gal. Does Shell have dibs?"

Ah, there it is.
posted by Dec One at 7:06 AM on April 18, 2008


twiggy writes "So, as crush-onastick said - you're already not thinking about your OTHER neighbors well being, so who gives a crap about the other neighbors like you and what they think? Sell it for $5 just to piss them off."

Nah, if you really want to piss them off sell it for $29.75. You get the first pay parker after you show up and for less than a 1% discount while still not having to spend much time.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2008


There's a website called ParkWhiz.com that allows you to sell your parking spaces online ahead of time, thereby circumventing the "dibs" system. It's kinda like eBay for parking. They take a commission, but it saves you the hassle of standing outside to attract drivers.
posted by jonboy at 10:47 PM on April 22, 2008


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