Eminent Domain Abuse: Seattle Condemns Private Parking Lot For Construction Of Public Parking Lot

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On Monday, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously and without discussion to seize the property of a 103-year-old resident so that the city could “mitigate for the loss of short-term, on-street parking during construction along the downtown waterfront and replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.”

The property is already a parking lot, one that profits its owner and not the City of Seattle. Owner Myrtle Woldson has understandably resisted repeated overtures from the city to buy the land.

So the city just took it, and doubtless now holds the leverage in negotiating a compensation price. Long-term plans call for a municipal parking structure to supplement another parking facility the city is already mismanaging.

The Freedom Foundation, which has chronicled the city’s several other abuses, had this to say:

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.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported two weeks ago that the Woldson was likely to have bequeathed the high-value waterfront property to a charitable organization, despite reports she’s declined private offers of up to $20 million for the land.

“The dispute between the city and Miss Woldson, as she prefers to be called, makes Seattle look like Darth Vader going after the property of a centenarian,” observed the Journal’s Marc Stiles.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.