Parking will be banned on both sides of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street in Georgetown beginning this weekend as part of a police crackdown to reduce a sharp increase in street crime and vandalism.
The parking ban, which covers Wisconsin Avenue NW from K to N streets and M Street from Wisconsin Avenue to Key Bridge, will be in effect from 6:30 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday, and 6:30 p.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Sunday.
Georgetown, the city's most popular bar and restaurant center and the address of some of the city's most affluent and powerful persons, has seen an increase in crime -- such as muggings and vandalism -- following last summer's appearance of unusually large crowds of young people on weekend nights.
This winter, police were surprised when the huge crowds, sometimes as large as 20,000, started showing up on balmy weekends.
The city's police department started an unannounced parking crackdown last weekend when a large contingent of officers patrolled the commercial area, directing traffic and ticketing and towing illegally parked cars.
Capt. Rod Murray, who is in charge of police patrols in Georgetown, organized the new enforcement program.
Georgetown residents and businessman applauded the crackdown.
Juan Cameron, president of the Citizens' Association of Georgetown, called last weekend's traffic operation, "quite a show. It was awesome to see all that police presence. They even had flares out there. We have never seen anything like it in Georgetown. It was wonderful."
William Cochran, chairman of the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said, "We are, at this point, backing the police completely. It looked like we were facing another summer as bad as last year. The police are determined to keep control."
Cochran said that he doesn't think Georgetown residents are concerned that the parking ban in the business area will force more cars onto the surrounding residential streets.
"People aren't worried about their parking situation," he continued. "They are worried about public safety. There will be no impact on the residential neighborhoods because there is no parking there now. We are already filled up."
Earl Meyerson, chairman of the crime commission of the Georgetown Business and Professional Association, said his organization has passed a resolution supporting the stepped up enforcement, including the parking ban.
"We wanted the 2nd District police [who patrol Georgetown] to regain control of our streets," said Meyerson.
"The terrible congestion and gridlock at Wisconsin and M . . . make s it difficult for police to keep the traffic moving. And if there are any gangs on the street bothering anyone, the parked cars made it difficult for police to see what was going on.
"What we have in Washington is the seat of the national government, the monuments and Georgetown," Meyerson said. "We help attract tourists to Washington. We are one of the most valuable assets that D.C. has within its boundaries. If Georgetown falls flat [as a result of recent problems], it will affect the whole city."