After July 1, it will cost 75 cents an hour -- 25 cents more than it does now -- to park on many of Old Town Alexandria's streets, and nonresidential parking will be restricted until 9 p.m.
Pressured by merchants and restaurateurs to reject proposals to raise the hourly rate to a dollar and extend nonresidential restrictions until 11 p.m., the council reached a compromise late last night after weeks of debate.
The Old Town parking problem, say the owners of small businesses there, means for them what an iceberg meant for the Titanic.
"Some have left already," said Jean Thompson, chairwoman of the Old Town Business Association, "and we can't get new ones to come in."
Many business owners criticize the city for attacking the chronic shortage of parking spaces piecemeal and delaying voting on the building of new garages. "We've been begging for a new structure," said George S. Elmore, manager of the Fish Market restaurant. He said city officials don't seem to be listening.
The votes last night were largely seen as concessions to Old Town residents who say they cannot park in front of or near their houses because of visitors to the area, which is dotted with specialty shops and restaurants.
Elmore said officials and the residents seem to forget that without a thriving commercial hub, the expensive Old Town houses would not be so desirable.
Mayor James P. Moran Jr. said a city task force is looking at the business community's requests and probably will issue recommendations in November.
The 75-cent rate will be effective from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday through Saturday in the area east of Henry Street. The two- and three-hour parking restrictions in residential areas, now in effect from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., will be extended to 9 p.m. in the sector bounded by Queen, Washington and Duke streets and the Potomac. This provision will be reevaluated after six months.
In other action, the council moved a step closer to construction of 30 new public housing town houses in Cameron Valley to replace dilapidated existing ones by rezoning the northeast corner of Duke Street and Yale Drive. The council still must approve a special use permit for the $2.5 million federally funded project.
Some neighbors of the housing project oppose rebuilding it at the same site.
The council also voted to send a letter to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is financing the project, requesting that half of the 30 units, instead of all, be three-bedroom town houses. If the others were two-bedroom units, Moran said, it would allay some of the neighbors' concerns about crowding.