- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

Enforcement of a seldom-used and largely unknown law dictating the manner in which cars are parked on hilly streets is angering tenants in the Cleveland Park area of Northwest.

Safety prescribes that vehicles parked on hilly streets should have their wheels turned toward the curb. It's also the law.

"It's been on the books forever," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Moore of Police District 2, adding that he had asked other veteran officers whether they knew of the law and when it had been passed.

Residents in the area said police began enforcing the law about 10 days ago, but they said ticketing was heaviest Sunday night.

"It's the most asinine [thing] I've ever seen," said Ari Rubenfeld, a surgeon living in the 2500 block of Porter Street NW. Moreover, some of the ticketed cars "had their wheels turned the right way," said Dr. Rubenfeld, who learned to park on hills while growing up in New York.

Police are "treating us like idiots and insulting our intelligence," said Brian Hopman, who must pay a $20 fine for failing to turn the wheels of his car toward the curb on sloping Porter Street.

Mr. Hopman estimated that 100 cars were ticketed Sunday night along both sides of the 2500 to 3000 blocks of Porter Street east of Connecticut Avenue.

"It's gotta be a revenue-generating thing," said Rachel Kaufman, 28, who parks on Porter Street although she lives on parallel Quebec Street.

She said she plans to write letters of complaint to Mayor Anthony A. Williams and any other D.C. official who might be involved. Meanwhile, she'll turn her wheels toward the curb.

"I've done everything I can to abide," Ms. Kaufman said.

John Livewell, 29, who parks his new Toyota in the 2700 block, said he had "never heard of the law being enforced." Mr. Livewell's father and four other family members are police officers in Philadelphia. Mr. Livewell drives to Rockville for his job in security.

"It's crazy," said Jean-Michel Bour, 56, a transportation counselor at the French Embassy. "We're not [even] on the hill," Mr. Bour said as he got into his Toyota Corolla parked in the 2500 block, where Porter Street is nearly level.

"They certainly need money," he said.

The enforcement apparently is occurring only in the 204 service area of Police District 2. All telephone calls from The Washington Times were directed to Sgt. Candice Deal and Lt. Roger Roch, but their phones were not answered.

Cmdr. Moore said he would have to ask why the law was suddenly being enforced on Porter Street. He said it may have begun as a result of the recent snowstorms that made streets especially treacherous. "I'm not aware of any complaint we have received," he said.

An officer operating a photo-radar device who asked not to be identified said the speed limit was recently raised from 25 mph to 30 mph along that stretch of road, partly because of complaints about the lower speed being impractical.

"Police seem to be especially alert for traffic offenses on Porter Street," said Steve Hersey, 34, founder and president of the charity Books for America and a D.C. resident for 15 years.

He said he was surprised when his van was ticketed at 9:30 p.m. Monday. "It would be nice if somebody would advise me of the way my wheels should be turned," he said. "It would be nice to receive a warning."

"We support the police in every which way," Mr. Hersey said, adding that Books for America recently contributed 2,000 books to the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs. "The $20 won't sway me from doing that," he said.

Yesterday, several cars along Porter Street still had parking tickets jammed into their side windows or under their windshield wipers. Most of the tickets were for illegal hill parking, but others were for outdated tags and for parking longer than 72 hours.

A resident who wished not to be identified said parking is a constant problem in Cleveland Park, an affluent community near the National Zoo. The resident said car break-ins were a big problem in the area. Recent statistics show that theft-from-vehicle crimes in District 2 increased 8 percent in 2002.

Total crime in District 2 decreased 6 percent last year, according to preliminary statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department. However, murders increased to three in 2002 from none in 2001.


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