The City of Seattle has decided to use its sovereign power of eminent domain to seize a parking lot owned by 103-year-old Spokane resident Myrtle Woldson. The Seattle City Council voted Monday to take the lot in connection with its waterfront development, to which it has allocated $30 million.
Many residents don’t see a “public benefit” in this exercise of power, because the City is simply going to take the privately owned water front parking lot and turn it into a city owned waterfront parking lot.
Woldson has repeatedly refused to sell the lot, allegedly turning down a $20 million-dollar offer for the property, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.
The Puget Sound Business Journal reported that the city wants to acquire Woldson’s property to mitigate the loss of other parking lots during the construction of a $2.1 billion tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Some outlets are reporting that the City will keep the lot as a surface parking lot rather than build multi-story parking structure, adding to the frustration and discontent with the project.
As one article summarized:
The city council issued the exasperated statement that “there are no alternatives” to providing the public with parking. The council’s bill frames the situation in a way that suggests not only does the government, instead of the individual who paid for and developed the lucrative piece of property, deserve the first chance at making a profit, but also that the government will actually sustain a loss by not taking that property. “Without this legislation,” they write, Seattle’s government “miss an opportunity to address the limited supply of public, short-term parking,” which “will result in lost revenue to the City.” Although the document dances around specifying the cost, it insists that tourism and commerce in the area will be suffer without the seizure of Woldson’s land.
This is another example of eminent domain abuse. As Glen Morgan of the Freedom Foundation (an Olympia-based, conservative, free-market think tank) put it, “There’s no public good in it at all.”