If you’re on Ald. Richard Mell’s 33rd Ward email list, this morning you got a fiery missive from Ald. Mell calling on residents to end dibs this week.
“I expect to see no dibs markers on the streets by the end of the week,” the Alderman wrote. “Shortly thereafter, I will ask the community to help remove any that remain.”
If you didn’t learn so this past week, “dibs,” is the quaint and/or annoying Chicago practice of digging out a street parking space in the snow and then claiming it as your own by putting chairs, tables, old televisions or even religious statues, in the space to claim it after you drive out. The dibser’s thinking goes, I took the trouble to dig this space out, it’s mine. Go dig your own.
“It’s just time to get them off,” Ald. Mell later told Center Square Journal. “I can understand a guy shoveling it out and wanting to do it. Right now it’s time to take it out. It clutters up the street.”
Although everyone from the mayor on down looks the other way during a big snowstorm, dibs is illegal. So while a street code of justice is observed – grudgingly by some – when there’s lots of snow on the ground, things get a bit unbalanced when the snow starts to melt.
Most officials seem to agree, the time for dibs has passed.
“Ald. Schutler supports [Ald. Mell's] sentiment and feels the residents should definitely begin removing furniture from the street,” said 47th Ward spokesman, Robert Rawls.
40th Ward Alderman Pat O’Connor’s team is sending a more oblique message: Streets & Sanitation has been busy with other things. But once they’re done, watch out.
“Ald. O’Connor is following the Commissioner’s advice that [Streets & Sanitation] should deal with alley garbage pick up first,” said 40th Ward aldermanic aide, Tim Czarnecki. “By Thursday or Friday [they should be done with the alleys]. Then they will begin picking up the street debris.”
The Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation says they’ve been busy, but the weather should take care of things anyway.
“The one thing we had outstanding was garbage collection,” said Streets & Sanitation spokesman Matthew Smith. ”Our present operational priority is completing refuse collections for the week. Conditions permitting, as we hope to complete refuse collection on Friday, we will also begin to clear any remaining debris from the streets.”
Ald. Mell plans to ask his ward crew to clean up dibs-ware next week.
“I probably would ask the ward superintendent to remove the stuff by Monday of next week. Then I’ll pick out the best ones and take them onto the Antiques Road Show.”
Bottom line: Clean your stuff up by the weekend, or the city will take it away for good.
Note: Streets & Sanitation spokesman Matthew Smith’s statement was updated with additional detail at 5:10 p.m.