I have participated in three Safety Commission meetings so far in my stint as a commissioner. I can sum up my experience with this phrase: people like to park in front of their homes. Or, another way to look at it is like this: people don’t like strangers parking in front of their homes.
There are two neighborhoods in Chula Vista that are having large problems with public parking. One of them is across the street from Southwestern College. Residents are fed up with college students trolling their neighborhood for free parking. I heard stories at Wednesday’s meeting about residents who have to carry their groceries for three blocks because of student parking. Another couple has elderly parents that don’t visit because they’d have to walk too far. One resident has a licensed extra car that he plants in front of his home. When he comes home with groceries, he double parks the extra car, unloads his truck, and then plants his car back in front. This “extra” car would be called a “snow car” in North Idaho – a rusted-out junker that is used only when it snows. A snow car prevents the good car from getting bumped in icy conditions and also saves the good car from getting rusted out from salt. In this case, the “snow car” saves a parking space and the owner doesn’t mind when others bump into it when they parallel park.
Occasionally at our home in San Marcos, one of the teen-aged friends of our neighbor would park their car in front of our house. Our cars were parked in the garage and along the side of it so we never used the curb parking along our cul-de-sac, anyway. But, I didn’t like it when others did. And, I have to admit, one day when I saw a teenager driving up (more heard the young driver than saw) I quickly parked my car in front of our home. And, since I’m confessing, our next door neighbor had three drivers, five cars, two boats and one 26’ camping trailer. And, none of the cars could fit into their over-stuffed garage. One day, a rare event happened; a spot opened on the street in front of their house so I took it. I felt bad about it but then they parked a boat in front of our house, so I guess we called an unspoken parking entente and never ventured a car in front of each other’s homes again.
I wonder what is it about human nature that makes us protective of a public parking space in front of our home? Did native Americans get upset when a neighbor parked a horse in front of their teepee? From the way some residents described the college students who park in front of their homes, there are some similarities – loud sounds, strange smells, and occasional use of the street as a bathroom; but a horse won’t give you the finger if you tell it to leave.
What is a good Christian response to this dilemma? How are we to treat a stranger parking in front of our home? When Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves, was he including their parked cars? Unfortunately, he probably was.