I had to swear that I would not publish the name of the street. Things are close enough to neighbor-icide there already.
Let's just say that the setting is an older suburb in Prince George's County near the Beltway. The issue is a family of six that owns seven cars among them.
"I live across the street," said my informant. "I have two cars. My driveway is big enough for one. So I have to park the other one on the street.
"But I am having a lot of trouble doing that because of my neighbors. They leave at least five of their six cars on the street almost all the time. I can find a space on the street, but usually it's way down the block, about 40 yards or more from my door. That's pretty far for a senior citizen to carry groceries, wouldn't you say?"
My informant says she has asked her neighbors to leave her a vacant space close to her house. "They say they will, and it lasts for about a week," my informant said. "Then it's back to the same old, same old."
This sort of neighborhood dispute usually ends with the police being called. That's what happened in "Older Suburb" one day last week.
"An officer came and listened and said there wasn't anything he could do, because all the spaces on the street are public," my informant said. "He said it isn't legal to reserve a public space. As long as my neighbors move their cars every few days or so, they can't be charged with abandoning their cars on public property."
My informant said she doesn't feel she can ask her neighbors for cooperation again. "They've already pretty much told me to go jump in the lake," she said. Is there another way to skin the cat?
I told my neighbor about The Baltimore Solution. After three minutes, she was taking notes. After 10, she was eager to get rid of me so she could call County Executive Wayne K. Curry. "I love the idea," she said.
Curry might not. Even if he does, The Baltimore Solution would require a new law -- which is always harder to arrange in practice than it is in the newspaper.
Still, give a listen. This might be the way out.
In Baltimore, they will set aside a handicapped parking space for any citizen, directly in front of that citizen's home. If you qualify for a handicapped permit, you qualify for your very own reserved space. You get not only the space, but a neat sign with your name on it, which tells the rest of the world to bug off.
My informant in Prince George's is not disabled. However, she did admit to being "well over 70." Why couldn't the Baltimore idea extend to the elderly?
Granted, this might not work in neighborhoods where there are heavy concentrations of senior citizens. There might not be enough convenient parking spaces for everyone. But on your basic suburban street lined with single-family homes, wouldn't The Baltimore Solution even out the problems caused by a family with six cars? I can't think of an idea that would make things even-er.
Local high school reunions gathering steam:
Bladensburg '69. Organizing. Call Ann Adams Randall (301-621-9109), Debbie Gant Swann (301-855-8110) or Mela Martinez Gibson (301-341-5539).
Central (D.C.) '34. Oct. 23. Call Esther K. Litman (301-469-6463).
Central (D.C.) '40. May 19, 2000. Call Barbara Kurz (301-598-7290).
Chesapeake '79. Oct. 23. Call Kathy Taylor Mansour (410-544-8335) or John Rausch (410-437-1425).
Coolidge '51. Organizing. Call Aileen Feldman (301-929-1380).
Damascus '80. Planning. Contact Patsy McKenzie (301-253-0552 or DHS80MD@hotmail.com).
Dunbar '30. Organizing. Call Karen Watson (703-276-0055 days, 301-333-3696 evenings).
Dunbar '59. Organizing. Call Carole Lewis (202-882-5199) or Cliff Freeman (202-546-1622).
Dunbar '85. Aiming for summer, 2000. Call Kevin Wharton (301-517-0257).
Eastern '69. Oct. 15-17. Call Carletta Leftwich (301-794-5975).
Falls Church '75. Oct. 22. Call Stu Megaw (703-280-8220).
Friendly '89. Nov. 27. Call Belinda Robinson (301-292-3415).
Gwynn Park '49. Nov. 5. Call Audrey Daley DeMarr (301-868-3292) or Russell Hamilton (301-782-7877).
Hayfield '74. Oct. 22-24. Call Betty Wells (703-569-8858) or Kati Hattwick (703-321-8665).
Bishop Ireton and St. Mary's Academy '79. Oct. 15-16. Call Antonio J. Calabrese (703-712-5411 work, 703-838-9695 home).
Stonewall Jackson '84. Oct. 22 and 23. Call Nancy Pitman Tebell (703-361-3740).
McKinley Tech '84. Organizing. Call Kellie Jackson (202-305-3025).
Mount Vernon '49. Oct. 30. Call Marjorie Hooks (703-494-4840).
Oxon Hill '69. Oct. 22-24. Call Roxana McCarter (703-550-8911).
Potomac '73. Organizing. Call Dianne Scott Randolph (202-824-1857).
Poolesville '79. Oct. 9. Call Stacy P. Shaffer (410-876-0100).
Theodore Roosevelt '69. Oct. 23. Call Carol Hightower Belal (301-530-3632) or M. Janie Furbush (301-864-4588).
Spingarn '59. Oct. 8-9. Call Margaret Wallace Woody (301-423-6078) or Juanita Hopkins Walls (301-894-4741).
Thomas Stone '89. Nov. 6. Contact Karen Fideli Burbage at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Washington '49. Oct. 9. Call Ann Darling McKlveen (540-786-2127) or Marvin Wilke (301-371-6422).
George Washington '50. Sept. 9, 2000. Call Sally Ward Stumpf (301-262-8128).
George Washington '59. Organizing. Call Sarah Webster Capponi (703-323-7822).
Washington-Lee '25 through '45. Oct. 16. Call Jack Follin (703-534-1562).
Washington-Lee '49 and '50. Oct. 16. Forty-niners call Ruth Levin (703-979-5655). Fiftyers call Dee Lyon Mitchell (703-241-2535).
Washington-Lee '59. Oct. 8-10. Call Jane Gholson Lanham or Bob Lanham (703-938-5993).
Wilson '54. Hunting missing classmates. Call Barbara Berman (202-363-2371).
Having a reunion? Please mail full details to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071, fax them to 202-334-5150 or e-mail them to email@example.com. Local high schools only, please.