October 22, 2013 Print

City of Seattle abuses eminent domain so a parking lot can become a parking lot

Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously 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 is the link to the original notice). Local Station Q13Foxnews discussed this story here

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.Public Benefit

Seattle has a history of complete and total incompetence in managing parking, well-documented at the Pacific Place parking garage. Instead of abusing eminent domain, the City Council should have passed a resolution that would prevent Seattle from ever getting into the parking business again. For people familiar with eminent domain abuse, however, this is just another example of how Big Government Central Planners use their power to crush the dreams and aspirations of the “little people.”

The desire of the Central Planners for control is once again permitted to outweigh the people’s need for government to make rational decisions that benefit taxpayers and citizens (Of course, the City of Seattle just banned using the term "Citizen"). In this case, a 103-year old lady’s property is slated to be taken “for the greater good.” Yet that “good” is really just the personal aspirations of city planners and officials.

As has been pointed out, the City of Seattle actually has plans to “redevelop” this property and turn it into a parking garage or mixed use development once the Viaduct is gone. Most observers believe that when Seattle’s Big Dig is done and the Viaduct construction is over (assuming this ever happens), this woman’s land will be prime real estate worth far more than what the City of Seattle will pay by seizing it now. This might be true (although the City wants us to believe there is nothing to see here), but the property owner appears to have a plan to donate this property to charity at the maximum value so that her desired charity will benefit:

"...Seattle is being impatient with Woldson (property owner), who he (Gary Beck, president of Republic Parking Northwest, which operates the parking lot) says plans to bequeath her lot to a charitable group.

“I will guarantee you," he said, "that when Miss Woldson passes away, and whoever the beneficiary of this property is, they will sell and take the money."

Beck said he understands the city wants this property, but wonders why it’s spending the money to force a sale, which is going to happen eventually..."

(Seattle Business Journal - "City of Seattle plays Darth Vader in propety fight with elderly woman"- Oct 22, 2013)

The City of Seattle’s Central Planners are in a rush to use limited taxpayer resources to purchase prime property, but for no reason. Either way, this property will function as it does now – as a parking lot – for many years. If the land is worth purchasing after the viaduct is gone, surely there will be private developers who will do just that. It can be developed without the City of Seattle squandering taxpayer funds, abusing eminent domain, and (if past performance is any indication of future results) probably botching the job in the process.

Eminent domain reform is need in Washington State. As this story shows, these types of pointless efforts to abuse the process are completely unnecessary. It is one more case where government, given a tiny bit of power, constantly works to expand that power, resulting in abuses like this.

To contact the City of Seattle: 

City of Seattle website
Contact Mayor McGinn: (206) 684-4000 or by email

Parking Lot - Private or Government

Does it really benefit the public if this is owned by Seattle?


Read more about this story in the news



Glen Morgan

Property Rights Director

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