D.C. City Council member John Ray introduced legislation yesterday that would raise the city's parking tax from 12 percent to 25 percent and increase parking rates in the District, which are already the most expensive in the region.

As a sweetener to the proposal, which is likely to draw bitter opposition from the city's business community in general and its parking industry in particular, Ray (D-At Large) proposed eliminating all parking taxes between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

This partial parking tax repeal, Ray said, would "encourage our neighbors to patronize the many cultural and entertainment facilities available (in the city) at night."

Ray, who is running in a special May 1 general election, said the legislation was designed to reduce the number of cars coming into the city and to produce more tax revenues for the District government from nonresidents. "Most people who are in the parking lots are from Maryland and Virginia," Ray said.

A parking tax was imposed in the District for the first time in 1975. The City Council set that initial tax at 8 percent. A year later the council raised the tax to 12 percent. An 18 percent rate had been considered, but that idea was dropped in the face of intense lobbying from the city's parking industry.