72-Hour Rule

72-Hour Rule

Council sets public hearing.

— Currently, no one can’t park on the street in Alexandria longer than 72 hours. It’s a rule with murky origins, introduced in the 1960s but enforced earlier than that, but for years it’s been a headache for many local residents who rely on on-street parking. Now, two years after Vice Mayor Justin Wilson asked staff to review the policy, the city is preparing to take action to change the rules to allow residents to park for longer periods of time, but many on the City Council are saying the rule should just be done away with entirely.

At the April 25 City Council meeting, staff presented changes that will allow residents to park longer than 72 hours within one-eighth of a mile of their residence. Residents would have to register their vehicles plates with Alexandria Police. Residents would still not be able to park their vehicle indefinitely, but staff said exact timetables are still being established.

“We want to make sure parking is available and encourage turnover,” said Patrick Reed, an urban planner for the city. “The problem is widespread, beyond just the confines of Old Town, but the emphasis is on areas where on-street parking is at a premium.”

Some on the council noted that residents who have to move their vehicles because of the rule just move it to other on-street parking spaces. The rule is also enforced when residents call in about a car, which council members noted means the rule is largely used as a weapon in neighbor disputes.

“What problem are we trying to fix?” Councilman Paul Smedberg asked. “Is this a solution looking for a problem? It’s fuzzy for a lot of people, what we’re trying to do here, because it’s not perceived as a major problem.”

Mayor Allison Silberberg and others expressed agreement with Smedberg’s sentiment, though none seconded his motion to have the rule dropped.

“There’s still more discussion to be had,” said Councilman John Chapman. “Hopefully can have that discussion now or at first time it’s read.”

The 72-hour rule was docketed for the May City Council public hearing.

“My preference is to just plain drop it,” said Councilwoman Redella “Del” Pepper, “but I’m willing to give it a public hearing.”