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In a bad case of post-parade blues, Peggy Hammond is lamenting the loss of her car, which she last saw on Inauguration Day. Early on Jan. 20, Hammond drove downtown for a long day of catering and parked her silver ’84 Subaru wagon on 7th Street NW. It seemed a perfectly legal spotno signs or posters stated otherwise. At 2 a.m., after finishing up at the Michigan ball at the nearby Museum of American History, Hammond realized her Subaru was gone. Apparently it had been snatched along with a dozen others in the vicinity during a tow-truck free-for-all. In the days since, Hammond has been calling Teletype, a clearinghouse phone line to which towing companies must report their booty, but so far, her car hasn’t surfaced. D.C. police are investigating the case as a missing, rather than stolen, car but so far haven’t come up with any leads. Hammond suspects that her car may have been towed and then promptly stolen from the impoundment lot. “I’m in limbo,” says Hammond, who now gets to work by Metro or hitching with friends. “I just want to know where my car is. I don’t care if it’s stripped and on blocks. I just want to know.”
Pining for Parking It’s hard to imagine how D.C. Council staffers could be disappointed over the council’s recent plan to move into sparkling new offices at 1 Judiciary Square. Scheduled for early March, the move will make way for a long-awaited renovation of the District Building. It also promises staffers a temporary hiatus from all the occupational hazards of life in one of the city’s most dilapidated buildings: pigeon droppings ricocheting from window ledges onto meeting agendas, an over-heating system that brings summertime heat and humidity to the offices in the dead of winter, peeling walls, asbestos-shedding ceilings, and an obstacle course of homeless people crowding the first-floor hallway in the winter months. While the new offices offer state-of-the-art climate control and other 20th-century amenities, they fall short on one key council perk: parking. Although councilmembers will have reserved spaces, staff members will have to hit Metro or compete with Judiciary Square’s lawyers, cops, and criminals for parking. They’re keeping a stiff upper lip about it, though, only griping about the parking problem’s impact on the good taxpayers of the District. “For me, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to send staff out to community meetings, particularly daytime meetings,” says one council staffer.
Free Memorabilia Zone Nostalgia-crazed participants in last week’s inaugural activities proved that they would snatch up anything bearing inaugural symbols. Anything. In preparation for the three-day bash, the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW) posted nearly 4,000 emergency no-parking signs around Washington streets. But when the festivities were over and DPW workers got ready to shlep back out and take them all down, the no-parking signs had all but disappeared. No wonder: The signs posted along Pennsylvania Avenue carried a special presidential seal, along with the date, and tourists decided they looked good alongside their inaugural mugs and fountain pens. “They’ve always been a popular item,” says Frank Price, chief of DPW’s traffic services division. Price noted that workers started posting signs on the Friday night before the inauguration, and by Sunday they’d already lost 300. But Price isn’t complaining, since the tourists saved his office quite a bit of leg work. “I hope they took them all, to be honest with you,” says Price.