Proximity is ownershipLa proximidad es propiedad


I’ve been noticing an interesting phenomenon here in Mexico City related to parking. And I’ve noticed it in just about every neighborhood I have been to. In residential areas, the parking space next to the curb in front of people’s houses is very often blocked with some object to prevent anyone other than the owner of the house next to it from parking there. This is not legal in any way (and perhaps not illegal either), but it is a culturally sanctioned practice. Many times I have been with friends circling for parking when there have been many free spaces around. By social contract, no one sees these spaces as anything other than owned or spoken for, even though in reality they are part of the public space and it would be perfectly legal to move the objects and park there.

I am fascinated by this type of appropriation. What are the rights of those in proximity to public space? Are they, or should they be greater than the rights of anyone else? If the rights are greater, should not the responsibilities as well (for maintenance or cleaning for example)? What about people that live on the edge of a park? Do they, or should they have greater use rights than those that live elsewhere? I suppose it is just part of the human condition to claim space, wherever we happen to be.
He notado un fenómeno en la Ciudad de Mexico relacionado con el estacionamiento. Me doy cuenta que en casi todos las colonias, los espacios para estacionamiento en frente de las casas son bloqueados con objetos puestos ahí para los dueños de estas casas. Lo hacen para guardarlos. Probablemente no es algo ilegal, y lo curioso es que se ha vuelto una práctica culturalmente aceptada. Los mexicanos no lo ven como algo extraño que los dueños reserven estos espacios, y nunca van a moverse los objetos para estacionarse ahí.

Esta apropiación del espacio público me ha dejado impresionado. ¿Cuáles son los derechos de la gente que vive próxima de estos espacios públicos? ¿Tienen más derechos que los demás? Si tienen, también tienen más responsabilidades (como por ejemplo, limpieza y mantenimiento)? ¿Y los que viven cerca de un parque? ¿Deben tener más derechos de usarlo que la gente que vive lejos? Supongo que es parte de la condición humana reclamar territorio en cualquier lugar.


  1. Josh says:

    I noticed this phenomenon in the south side of St. Louis, Missouri — a city that where there is typically plenty of parking. No physical barricades per se, but I noticed a good deal of ill feeling from neighbors when somebody else uses “their” space. Coming from New York, where all spaces are fiercely contested, I found this attitude a bit puzzling.

  2. Andy Camp says:

    Witness the rise of residential permit parking in Los Angeles, my personal pet peeve. The first neighborhoods to get it were the ones that needed it least (i.e., residential areas with large homes, private driveways and ample parking both on and off the street). By contrast the street where I live, mostly renters who must find street parking even though none exists after 11 pm, resisted permit parking until pressures from surrounding areas forced the issue. I think it should be illegal: streets are paid for with public tax dollars and should be available for everyone to use, whether driving on them or parking on them. When one street goes “permit” it creates a domino effect that spills onto adjacent streets, forcing those areas in turn to adopt permit parking until large parts of the city are off limits for visitors. The idea is that if you don’t live there, you better just keep moving along.