Punctured tires, snapped radio aerials and vandalized cars are becoming relatively commonplace in many neighborhoods adjacent to federal installations.
The guerilla warfare is the result of angry residents striking back at government employes who have taken to parking in residential neighborhoods. The workers are doing it to avoid new parking fees -- averaging about $12 a month -- imposed on the bureaucracy by President Carter.
Since Carter ordered an end to free parking at many installations last November, there has been low-key skirmishing between drivers and home owners in Bethesda, Arlington, Suitland, Anacostia and residential areas of Northwest Washington.
People who live on the streets complain of an influx of non-resident cars. They say the cars -- easily identified because many have government parking stickers -- have brought rush-hour noise, pollution and early morning traffic danger to children on once-quiet streets.
Many residents began by leaving semipolite notes on windshields. Some have taken more drastic action to let drivers know they are not welcome, and that they are risking costly damage by trying to avoid parking fees that represent half the commercial rate.
The situation has become tense at the Army's Harry Diamond Laboratories in Adelphi where many of the 1,300 workers who once parked free now are "invading" neighborhoods to avoid the $10 monthly tab.
The Army workers say they have to drive since public transportation to the lab is poor. Besides, they point out that a large group of Navy Civilian workers just up the road still park free. The colonel commanding the installation has made the point in a formal request for equal treatment between Army and Navy.
Frazzled nerves from the pay-parking flap can be seen by reading part of a cover letter on a petition -- with more than 200 signatures -- that went to one member of Congress. Thousands of workers have signed petitions demanding a return to free parking. This one, dealing with the situation in suburban Maryland, says in part:
"There are a small group of us who refuse to pay the mandatory $10 per month. We are parking across the street, in neighborhoods, and anywhere where parking is free." It gets a little more to the point further down.
"I'm certain the people who live in the areas where we are parking do not appreciate our cars there all day," the petition said. "As a matter of fact, I have had glass spread under my car, I guess in an attempt to give a flat or two. If I did get a flat, I would have felt the need to go to the owner of the house and ask for an explanation. Now if someone else parked near me got a flat, they may not have been so calm, and maybe done something to get back at this person who left the glass in the curb."
The neighborhood-parking warfare has become so unpleasant, and serious, that various area members of Congress are writing the White House asking for special exemptions from the pay parking order to soothe constituents who are on both sides of the battle.
Rep. Gladys N. Spellman (D-Md.) who represents the Adelphi area, wrote Carter on Jan. 7 asking for some statesmanlike action. "I do hope you will feel, as I do, that this situation requires special treatment, to assure the continuation of a peaceful, cooperative community. It is essential to consider an alternative to the pay-to-park order for the employes at the Harry Diamond Laboratories."
A security official at an HEW installation in Maryland who asked not to be identified, said there have always been "incidents" between employe parkers and residents, "but things are much worse now."
He said many people are parking in residential areas and that "car pools" now form in the neighborhood parking areas to pick up employes and drive them the few blocks to the office.
"First it was notes on windshields," he said, "now we have icepicks stuck in the side of tires, and windshield wipers being broken off. It's ugly."