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Opinion: Are Burnaby’s ‘monster houses’ why we have street parking ‘wars’?

Some are blaming renters for taking up parking spots, but it's a public street
File photo Dan Toulgoet

Does Burnaby have a street parking crisis?

That seems to be a stretch for the entire city, but some pockets of Burnaby definitely have a problem – with some people referring to fights over spots as ‘wars’.

I found this out in the wake of my recent columns on the street parking issue and the battles people are having with each other. My initial column was about how some homeowners think they own the street parking right in front of their houses. Some people are blocking off spots with orange cones and garbage bins.

The responses since then have piled up in my inbox as Burnaby residents detailed incidents that have gotten close to actual physical confrontations.

People have also shared a lot of theories of what the issues are.

One common theme – houses that have rental units.

“We have a bunch of monster houses on our street that have legal or illegal rental units,” wrote one homeowner. “People are piled into these houses and the tenants take up all of the street parking. We’ve had these parking wars for years.”

So, my response to that is “so what”? Yes, some homes have rental units and people often have to park on the street. You, as a homeowner, do not own any part of a public street so you have no right to yell at renters or put notes on their windshields warning them to move.

Another reader - known as “fed up” – wrote about the homes on their block.

“There’s at least 6-8 adults and 4-6 cars per house but there’s only enough room for 2 cars in the driveways,” said Fed Up. “I can handle the neighbours parking once in a while in front of our house, but I’m sick and tired of them taking all the parking on the street and blocking driveways every single day. Especially when we’re the ones maintaining the lawns and sidewalks and them leaving garbage and cigarette butts all over the place.

“One day I left a note on one of the cars that always parked in front of our house to please not park there for a couple hours on a certain morning as I was bringing an elderly parent home from the hospital after having surgery … and it would be easier to bring her inside from the front as the front only has a few steps as opposed to an entire flight of stairs in the back. I watched him as he crumpled up the note and threw it out his window along with an empty Starbucks coffee cup right in front of my house. That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m tired of cleaning up their trash in front of my house. I went and bought some pylons to put out in front of the house for the one time. After that, I started leaving them notes that if they were to park in front past the allotted time allowed by the city, they would be ticketed. I don’t think I am entitled. I think I have the right to be angry with these homes filled with tenants that park in front of other people’s houses for days at a time and don’t respect other people’s property by leaving trash everywhere. I also think that if you’re in a house filled to the rim with tenants taking up all the street parking, then it’s pretty foreseeable that the neighbours are going to be upset.”

I don’t condone littering. I also don’t condone people parking longer than the allotted time on a particular street.

But once again, we have a homeowner who thinks people shouldn’t be allowed to park in front of their home on a public street.

Sorry, I just don’t get it.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.