Seattle Seizes Private Parking Lot to Build New Parking Lot

Credit: Foter / CC BY-SACredit: Foter / CC BY-SACiting the need for more public parking, the City Council of Seattle made a unanimous decision this week to force a 103-year-old woman to sell a plot of land that is already a parking lot.

The Puget Sound Business Journal argues that the situation seems like a boondoggle. There is contradictory information that officials have not clarified about whether the city intends to turn Myrtle Woldson's 134-stall parking lot into a multi-level garage or if they simply want seize the lot and operate it themslves:

“It makes no fiscal sense to me to have the city condemn a parking lot to make more parking,” said Gary Beck, president of Republic Parking Northwest, which operates Woldson’s lot.

[...]

City Council spokeswoman Dana Robinson Slote said that Seattle doesn’t want to build anything on Woldson’s lot and plans to keep it a surface parking lot “for the foreseeable future.”

That contradicts city and state documents that call for building structured parking along the central waterfront, including specifically on Woldson’s lot. The entities have set aside $15 million to acquire existing garages or build new ones, where short-term parking is to be be offered at $3 to $4 an hour.

Woldson has repeatedly declined selling the lot. 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.

The city has not yet stated what they will offer Woldson, who still has the opportunity to challenge the decision in court.

The Freedom Foundation's Glen Morgan believes this is a case of eminent domain abuse. He writes that “in Seattle, central planning takes priority over people,” and that “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.”

Both the Business Journal and Morgan expressed skepticism about the government's ability to even manage a parking lot. They pointed to the case of the Pacific Place parking garage that the city bought in 2011. Earlier this year, the city owed nearly $60 million ($10 million more than an appraisal deemed its value when Seattle bought it) on construction bonds and was steadily losing $30,000 every month to mismanagement and theft.

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  • Virginian||

    Looters gonna loot.

  • Loki||

    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.”

    Not taking is giving. Besides, they can't allow some prole to make TEH EVUL PROFITZ.

    Fuck the People's Republic of Seattle.

  • ||

    That lot is just down the street from me.

    Both the Business Journal and Morgan expressed skepticism about the government's ability to even manage a parking lot. They pointed to the case of the Pacific Place parking garage that the city bought in 2011.

    Holy fuck, how do you lose money at Pacific Place's parking lot? It's in the middle of downtown and under a fucking four story mall with a movie theater and restaurants. They should be raking it in.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The same way Amtrak loses money selling $10 burgers to a captive market.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Seems they are slow on the uptake. They need to start taxing riders when they don't buy a burger. That will fix everything.

  • Paul.||

    Holy fuck, how do you lose money at Pacific Place's parking lot?

    Because they charge $2 for like 136 hours of parking?

    I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't go downtown as often as I did in my misspent youth, but when I do, I park at Pacific Place. Because fuck if I'm going to pay $10 an hour up the street.

  • larry hammond||

    During the week they charge $2 more for the early bird special. There are several others within a block or so that are 11/day. They are 13/day, so they don't fill up the garage with commuters.

  • paranoid android||

    “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.

    That's weird, the city already has one of the largest and most convenient parking lots I've ever seen. I believe it's called "I-5".

  • ||

    Nicely done.

  • Paul.||

    Eminent Domain is ON THE ROPES I TELLZ YA!

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    It is high time to amend Amendment V and delete "for public use, without just compensation."

    Government should buy its property just like everybody else. And nobody give me that "long thin things" crap either. James J. Hill managed to build a railroad across the continent without eminent domain, and his is still there as opposed to that Lincoln boondoggle.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Most western railroads did without eminent domain also. What set the Great Northern apart was they didn't receive land grants. However they did receive a right of way grant for the railroad itself on public land. I don't believe they ever purchased that.

  • Agammamon||

    So where's Dunphy to weigh in on the enlightened way Seattle government works?

  • LilDebbie||

    Why not burn her at the stake while you're at it? Just claim she curdled your latte or something and has the devil in her. Worked in Salem.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "result in lost revenue to the City"

    "tourism and commerce in the area will be suffer without the seizure of Woldson's land"

    Too fucking bad, shitheads. Tourism, commerce, and the City are entitled to nothing.

  • Robert||

    What you expect in Russian North America?

  • Navilor||

    Non-cynical me says that Seattle City council knew that they screwed up when they decided to build the tunnel and most of the waterfront parking would go away and so would tourism. They need to replace a lot of the parking that went away with a bigger parking lot.

    Cynical me says that Seattle wants that land because in a few years it will be a great location for condominiums once the viaduct is removed. They can then sell view property at an enormous markup and generate additional property tax revenues.

    Extra cynical me says that they will wait a while for the waterfront businesses to go out of business (no convenient parking), will then state that having business there will interfere with the seawall replacement and then will sell the city owned property to condo developers. Massive revenue for the sale and the property tax revenues.

  • ||

    Super-cynical me says that they will wait for the waterfront businesses to go out of business, then declare the entire area blighted, bring in a developer, have him level the whole place, and build a shopping mall restaurant complex surrounded by condos and parking garages.

  • Navilor||

    You win. :(

  • larry hammond||

    Don't forget that the developer will have to include affordable housing units and a homeless shelter/soup kitchen. Don't want to actually clean up downtown, just make rich people pay more to live among the filth.

  • ||

    Why don't they try doubling their offer. If they want the parking lot that badly, how horrible would it be to pay the amount the woman is willing to sell at?

  • ||

    Or, even easier. Wait a few years and then buy it from the estate when her heirs are forced to sell it to pay the estate taxes.

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