Before arriving from Berkeley last fall to spend a year in Washington, we had believed our home town to be the Pothole Capital of America. Living here, however, we have discovered that Berkeley is only the Pothole Capital of the West; Washington leads the Eastern League. This rivalry is touch and go. Berkeley may yet win the playoff, for though in our city few streets ever are repaved, we do see random signs of such improvements in the District.

The Berkeley City Council does not like automobiles. It cares instead about day care, rent control and foreign policy. But, as we found out, covert civic action achieves results. As Berkeley potholes grow to World War I shellhole size, one takes to the streets -- before dawn -- and sprays orange Day-Glo paint around the rims of the worst pits. The glow (especially by night) warns approaching motorists of danger.

Such actions have had positive, if unforeseen, results. Maintenance crews (if not their bosses) seem to have self-respect. After months of neglect, and soon after Day-Glo application, one finds the holes filled -- such repairs limited to those that had been sprayed.

We pass along this information to whomever it may concern.

PAUL SEABURY MARIE-ANNE SEABURY Washington