The city's commuter parking ban cleared streets of out [WORD ILLEGIBLE] cars, but left grudges, hardships and 322 pink parking tickets as it went into effect yesterday in Georgetown and three other Northwest neighborhoods.
"What do they want us to do? Put our car in our pocket and carry it to work?" asked mailman Kenneth Harris, as he surveyed an expanse of car-free curb along S Street in Georgetown.
"I can just see this place when it snow," said John R. Hoff, shaking his head as he walked down a steep, narrow dirt trail from his new, out-of-the-way parking place. "We'll just get some skis," suggested Hoff's car pool companion, Rick Arkell, who also works at the Page complex on Wisconsin Avenue.
The parking ban went into effect yesterday in Georgetown, Burleith, Glover Park and Foxhill Village. Posted signs limit daytime parking on residential streets in those neighborhoods to two hours, except for cars owned by residents and identified by city-issued decals.
Though well publicized, the ban caught many commuters and residents by surprise. Residents lined up 20 deep yesterday to buy decals at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Eight police officers issued 322 parking tickets between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The fine is $5.
"That's quite a few tickets to be putting out in a residential area. I don't think we expected that many," said Capt. Andrew E. Salvas. He said the officers reported "plenty of parking spaces" throughout the four neighborhoods, "so the parking ban is working."
Salvas told the ticketing officers to be generous. They were told to give cars without the decals 2 1/2 to 3 hours before ticketing them, and not to ticket cars on streets where the two-hour limit signs were not posted.
Residents asked for the ban in 1974, but its effective date was held up pending a constitutional challenge, which was decided in its favor by the D.C. Superior Court in June.
A few residents still complained. Florence Tapp, a Burleith resident, directed her anger at the $5 fee for a residential decal. "It's terrible! We pay $1,000 in taxes around here and we have to pay $5 more for our car," she said.
As Tapp complained about the decal fee, a neighbor walked by and offered a cherry - and unusual - greeting: "Isn't this street deserted!"
"For people like me who live in Georgetown, it's delightful," said H. F. Conover. But she recognized that others had problems: two women who work at her church fixing a lunch of needy children were forced to move their cars in the midst of their busy noontime work.
The biggest problems of the day belonged to commuters. Workers at the National Occanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Page Complex at Wisconsin and Whitchall developed different strategies, all partly unsatisfactory.
Many commuters bowed to the situation and rented parking spaces. A few took things by chance yesterday. Mary Queen, a NOAA personnel worker, parked on the street. She and Glenn Johnson, a member of her car pool, planned to alternate the duties of moving the car every two hours.
"I feel horrible about it. It's totally unfair," Queen said. "We're all tax-paying citizens. The commuters are bringing revenue into the city just like the people who live here and we should be able to park."
Mail carrier Harris, who works out of the Georgetown Post Office, suggested that the parking ban was not only unfair but unneeded. Pointing to a deserted block on his route, he said Georgetown residents who leave for work in the morning do not need the empty curb space. Postal workers, he insisted, do.
"We're the only government employees other than the police and fire who work outside. They could at least give us a sticker or something," he said. But Harris mulled over names he knew from the mail routes and concluded that the parking ban is here to stay: "How can you over-ruled a Cyrus Vance, a Henry Kissinger, or a Pelly Shackleton?"