It is a classic neighborhood confrontation, the kind that leaves residents screaming, developers scheming and the city government caught in between.
Involved in this fight are the residents of the 800 and 900 blocks of 25th St. NW and the developers of the River Inn at 1660 25th St. NW.
Neighborhood residents have complained about increased noise, additional traffic and fumes from buses loading and unloading tour groups since the former apartment house was converted to a moderately priced hotel in the spring of 1978.
The residents say the tour groups that stay at the hotel are wreaking havoc in their formerly peaceful Foggy Bottom neighborhood, and that the streets are too narrow to accomodate the buses.
"There is so much noise! The drivers get out and: start yelling, 'Go this way, go that way.' They're trying to squeeze into an impossible situation," says Maria Tyler, commission of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission and Spokeswoman for the angry residents. "Sometimes you're awakened in the middle of the night by the honking and the motors, and you can't get back to sleep because you're so mad." h
The River Inn manager Mohammed Ahmed -- who also manages two others hotels for owner Conrad Cafritz -- said, "There is a situation there, of course. Buses are there. We have some sort of tour and travel people, obviously these people take a bus. We have given the drivers instructions to turn off their motors. They are only there for twenty minutes to load and unload."
At a hearing for his hotel's liquor license before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in January 1979, River Inn owner Cafritz that his typical guests would be lawyers, accountants and members of corporations who do not arrive by tour bus.
"Our rate structure will no longer accommodate the troupes at the Kennedy Center," he said then.Cafritz did not return a reporter's phone calls last week, and the reporter was later told that Cafritz was out of town and not available for comment on his 1979 statement.
At the same hearing, neighborhood residents asked the board to reject the hotel's request for a liquor license. They cited what they called the hotel's disruptive effect on the neighborhood. (Tyler says while the liquor license was pending, traffic abated somewhat but increased as soon as the license was granted.)
Residents then began to complain to Councilman John Wilson, who has organized a series of meeting with the D.C. Department of Transportation. At the last meeting, held Aug. 22, the Bureau of Parking offered to permit buses to continue to use 25th Street NW if they proceeded one at a time.
"Absolutely unacceptable," said Tyler. "It would not solve the problem and would be unenforceable. The bus owners pay the parking tickets anyway. It is . . . a drop in the bucket to them."
Residents now say they want the hotel to park its buses away from 25th Street NW and to use shuttle vans to transport guests about town. Or, says Tyler, let them walk as neighborhood residents do. "Why should the residents suffer so the guests can be pampered?" she said. A lawyer for the River Inn said the proposal had ben rejected because it was too expensive.
Last week, however, Ahmed indicated that the hotel may be willing to find another site to unload passengers, possibly at the back of the hotel.
Department of Transportation officials say they are considering a compromise solution tht "will leave neither side very happy," said parking commissioner John Brohy, whose office has handled the complaints. "We have an obligation to serve the needs of both the business community and the residential community. No one living near a hotel likes bus traffic," he said, adding, "But then again, everybody thinks we're Solomon."