Anthony Dalsimer tired of hunting for a parking place so he bought a short car.
"There's more of a parking problem here than in Georgetown because there are so few unmetered spaces," he said of the Foggy Bottom area where he lived when he bought the car six years ago. "University students and commuters and local residents all park here. The students sometimes park and don't move their cars all week."
Dalsimer had just returned from overseas to a State Department assignment here. He bought a Subaru 360 Deluxe, a car so tiny that a few men can lift it.
These cars are no longer for sale in the U.S. because they don't meet safety standards, Dalsimer said.
In six years with the car, he said, there have been only a few times when he couldn't find a parking place - "and this includes Georgetown on a Saturday night."
"Today I parked in a spot between two other cars that was too small for a Volkswagen," he said.
A few other glimpses into the parking nightmare:
Many old Washington neighborhoods were developed decades ago without garages. Now as many of these houses approach or exceed $100,000 in value, they still may have no garages. So the owners park on the streets, and this has led to court battles as they fight for space with commuters.
In older areas of the city that are now crowded and booming but that were built before regulations required construction of sufficient parking space - like Adams-Morgan and Mt. Pleasant - finding a parking place on the streets can be nearly impossible.
"Parking is a real problem here," said an Adams-Morgan apartment dweller. "When you come in late at night you see people looking for spaces. After 7, forget it."
In the far Southeast and Southwest, however, where people have fewer cars, one can often see large apartment complex parking lots almost empty. Near many public housing projects, only a few cars are parked along streets.
In downtown Washington, parking remains a problem despite a proliferation of parking lots and garages. While one can usually find a space, the price may be high.
Nor does commuting downtown by motorcycle necessarily solve the problem.
"My only problem is parking," said Shirley Thompson, 21, who began commuting to her downtown job on a motorcycle after she ran up a large gasoline bill on her car.
"Parking on the curb is a $15 ticket," she explained. "I said to the officer. 'Where do you expect me to park?' He said, 'I really don't care. Why don't you park behind the building behind the trash cans?'"
"The (motorcycle parking) lot in front of the Veterans Administration is almost always filled, so I went through all kinds of rigamarole to find a place to park. I talked to four or five people in the D.C. government, and they said they didn't know. They passed the back. I finally found a lady who told me there are 15 motorcycle parking lots in the city . . ."
But Thompson doesn't parkin one. They're too full. She has found a special place where a nice person lets her park, and she isn't telling where.
John R. Craves is conducting a kind of one-man crusade on the subject of parking.
Graves, a longtime D.C. resident who lives on New Hampshire Avenue and who has a deep affection for the city, says he has no car, no real estae and is a member of no organization.
What makes him mad are suburbanites who come into town and park any old whichway, all over the sidewalks even.
"They think because they have a big car and a suburban license they can park on the sidewalk or block an intersection." he said. "One day I was walking down 19th Street in front of Luigi's and someone was parked on the sidewalk. I said, 'I don't believe this. You're parked on the sidewalk.' The lady said, 'There's no place along the curb.'"
Graves carries a small camera as he walks to and fro, and photographs such transgressions. Delivery and service trucks that park on sidewalks and damage curbings are a favorite subject.
Street vendors, however, really put a sharp edge on Grave's ire - and his rhetoric.
"Sidewalk vendors should be reserved for the struggling entrepreneur who is AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AND LEGITIMATE RESIDENT OF DC," he wrote in one of his memos, "not the suburban itinerant who runs in, parks all day illegally, leaves his lunch bag and grease drippings from his crankcase and spends his money in suburbia. It is difficult for a normal person to walk down the street, much less a wheelchair or the blind."
Graves frequently takes these matters up with police but they are little help, he said, because most of them live in suburbia and don't care. Moreover, they seem no friendly terms with the vendors and lawbreakers.
"Every time I see a vehicle or a truck on the sidewalk I tell an officer," said Graves. "Before I can finish the sentence they say. "Oh . . ." They have a rationale. They say, "Oh, he's in there doing some work." Just walk down K Street and see what they've done to our sidewalks, our curbing . . ."
Many people seem to park by ear rather than by sight.
"I was thinking of getting a TR-6," said a Mt. Pleasant resident who would have had to park on the street. "The insurance company said, 'At the end of the first month you'll have $500 to $600 in body work just for simple parking maneuvers!
"I've talked to other insurance companies and they say the same thing about it but you know that your who owns a small car, they'll tell you that people have no respect for your car at all. They'll just tear it up . . .
"A friend of mine parked his car. Boom, the whole side of the car was gone. It cost $1,000. You can't do anything about it but you know that your insurance is going up next year." CAPTION: Picture 1, The average size of a new car loan has risen from $2,651 in 1965 to $5,040 in 1976.; Picture 2, 64% of the communities in the U.S. rely exclusively on motor vehicles for movement of goods aad services.; Picture 3, About 95% of the trucks in the U.S. are privately owned.; Picture 4, Public and private schools own 80% of all buses registered in the U.S.; Picture 5, 800% of the world's motor vehicles are in the U.S. and Europe.; Picture 6, Americans travel 1.7 trillion miles annually getting to and from work. That's 3.5 million round-trips to the moon.; Picture 7, More than 93% of all motor vehicles are assembled outside of Detroit and 65% are assembled outside of Michigan.; Picture 8, A recent survey of 21 metropolitan areas showed that 86% of the commuting work force used private vehicles to get to and from work. Only 5.9% relied on public transportation.; Picture 9, 95% of all households with incomes of more than $15,000 own a car and nearly half of those with incomes of more than $20,000 own 2 cars.; Picture 10, More than one of every seven dollars of state tax revenue is derived from motor vehicle user taxes.; Picture 11, Nine out of ten American cars have power steering and automatic transmissions.; Picture 12, Fourth-six percent of all cars produced in 1976 had vinyl roofs.; Picture 13, Automobiles account for 91% of all personal travel.; Picture 14, Three-fourths of all cars have factory-installed air conditioning.; Picture 15, The average age of a car on the road is 6.2 years and the average age of a truck is 7.; Picture 16, Trucks comprise one-fifth of all vehicles registered in U.S., yet pay more than one-third of federal and state highway-user taxes (for approximately 20 billion dollars).; Picture 17, One out of every six American workers derives his income from the automotive industry or related industries dependent on the car., By Terry Dale - The Washington Post