American Elephants

City of Seattle Abuses Eminent Domain to Create a Parking Lot….Out of a Parking Lot. by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know what it is about cities on the left coast, something in the water? “Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously on Monday to use eminent domain to take private property. They say they must seize the private property which is currently being used as a parking lot , in order to turn it into a ……….parking lot.” Here’s the ordinance.

There is no “public good” involved. The city council is competing with other city councils on the left coast for some kind of  dubious title. They have a ways to go to compete on an equal basis with San Francisco (remember the Happy Meals ban? Or the ban on selling goldfish?) and Berkeley, which is in a class by itself (waging war on a Marine recruiting station, or the Nuclear Free Zone, or the Cyclist anti-harassment law). The central planners want control. Fixing potholes is not exciting enough.

In addition to eminent domain abuse, the City of Seattle has recently been in the news for hiding public records, and sinking the farm boat. The common thread among all three of these stories is that, in Seattle, central planning takes priority over people. In this case, they decided it was critically important to seize a parking lot from its 103-year-old owner so that it can be a parking lot. At least this is their stated justification.

Seattle has “the viaduct,” an elderly elevated roadway along the waterfront, mostly with parking underneath. It is not attractive, but gets heavy use, and interferes with the view of those who live and work in buildings just uphill. The viaduct is being replaced with a tunnel, which will enhance property values of all those buildings. Seattle has plans for this lot once the viaduct is gone. The 103 year old owner appears to have a plan to donate the property to charity at the maximum value so that her desired charity will benefit. The city is impatient, although the viaduct has not yet been removed, and the property will be put up for sale at that time. So why are they spending the money to force a sale which will happen eventually? Trying to get it on the cheap?

Seattle Business Journal – “City of Seattle plays Darth Vader in property fight with elderly woman”- Oct 22, 2013)

Eminent domain abuse is a major problem. It is not meant as a solution for ambitious central planners, and needs reform — and not just in Seattle. Miss Woldson is said to be a feisty old lady, who is not shy about taking people to court. Could end up costing the city more than they expected.



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