- Associated Press - Thursday, January 13, 2011

WASHINGTON | Unconstitutional Avenue? No Vote Street? Statehood Way? Those are just some of the suggestions that Washington residents have proposed for renaming Pennsylvania Avenue — of White House fame — to highlight their lack of statehood.

The idea behind renaming the street, or part of it, is to underscore the fact that the city’s 600,000 residents have no vote in Congress.

D.C. Council member Michael A. Brown planned a meeting Thursday evening to seek input on ceremonially renaming Washington’s most celebrated avenue. No one would take down any street signs if officials ultimately agree on a new name, but ceremonial street designation signs could go up under existing Pennsylvania Avenue signs.

Because Congress has final say over city laws, any proposal could be rejected on Capitol Hill.

“Pennsylvania Avenue is the main thoroughfare between the Capitol and the White House. I think it represents government to a lot of people,” said Brown, who has collected more than a dozen proposals for a new name. “It’s still our city street.”

The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but other important buildings also line the avenue including the FBI building, Washington’s city hall and the White House visitor center. The street is also famous for being part of the route a new president follows during every inaugural parade.

The idea of renaming the street has been around for a few years, according to Brown. And Ilir Zherka, the executive director of D.C. Vote, a nonpartisan group that lobbies for more independence for the District and a vote in Congress, has previously suggested “D.C. Democracy Denied Boulevard.”

This isn’t the first time Washington residents have come up with attention-grabbing ways of getting their point across about representation.

In 2000 the city changed its red, white and blue license plates to include the phrase “Taxation Without Representation.” And in 2009 officials installed an electronic sign in front of City Hall that displays the amount of taxes city residents have paid.

The city already has a street that calls attention to its lack of a vote. A portion of South Capitol Street near the city’s baseball stadium has been called Taxation Without Representation Street.

 

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