Towing Drives Cabbie to Leave Neighborhood: Burke Life Doesn't Work Out

Article excerpt

Gholam Husseinkhel is leaving his Virginia home for Maryland, his dreams of a better life for his family shattered, he says, when his neighbors had his taxicab towed away Wednesday night.

His Burke Village neighbors say good riddance to a bad scofflaw.

In the culminating act of a dispute his neighbors say illustrates the wonderfully democratic and inflexible nature of neighborhood restrictions - but Mr. Husseinkhel says more accurately exemplifies upper-class bigotry - Mr. Husseinkhel is fleeing Fairfax County to return to Prince George's County. He is taking his family and his taxi with him.

"Because I'm a cabdriver, they think I'm a cheap person," Mr. Husseinkhel, 41, said yesterday. "I'm a bad person because I drive a cab?"

Not at all, said Renee Renner, one of Mr. Husseinkhel's neighbors and a representative of the Burke Village Homeowners Association.

"He is a tenant in a community where one of our bylaws prohibits commercial vehicles," Mrs. Renner said. "I can give you a list of 15 other cars we've towed in the last 10 years. It doesn't matter who you are - there is no selective enforcement here."

The story begins three months ago when Mr. Husseinkhel, who immigrated to the United States from Afghanistan 16 years ago, moved from his longtime Prince George's home to Burke Village.

Mr. Husseinkhel said he moved to Northern Virginia to give his children better surroundings. His 19-year-old son is a student at Northern Virginia Community College, and his 16-year-old daughter attends James Robinson High School.

"I'm working honest for my children, from 7 in the morning to 11 at night," Mr. Husseinkhel said. "I'm working a 16-hour day." But his neighbors, he said, don't respect him. …