The city of Seattle is attempting to condemn a waterfront parking lot after the owner, 103-year-old Myrtle Woldson, refused to lease or sell the spot to them.
The city claims the spot, which holds as many as 130 vehicles, is needed to alleviate parking problems during a large construction project. If Woldson accepted, the city would allegedly provide short-term parking for customers of nearby businesses despite the fact that Wolsdon’s lot is already filled daily.
Given Woldson’s refusal, the city is now preparing to take the property and reportedly plans on using Woldson’s $7 million lot to build a parking garage once they demolish Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct.
“The parking is going to continue to be eroded on the central waterfront, especially once demolition of the viaduct begins,” Department of Transportation Spokesman Rick Sheridan told the Seattle Times.
The city will debate on whether or not to use eminent domain laws to seize the elderly woman’s property during an Oct 10 city council meeting. According to city records, two other spots near Myrtle’s lot have already been seized by the city through eminent domain. While the city claims the move is for the public, a public backlash has already begun against the city’s tactics.
“Not sure I understand. The city wants to condemn a parking lot in order to… increase parking?” a Seattle resident commented.
“What I’m thinking is that Myrtle makes a good profit on her parking lot that one neighbor was quoted as saying is nearly ‘always full’ and that SDOT probably offered her pennies on the dollar to lease it from her. Since they didn’t like her answer, they’ll try to take her property away from her… So what I can glean from this story… SDOT is full of slimy, litigious weasels that think nothing of stealing a person’s property in order to cover their own shortcomings,” added another resident.
Washington state Rep. Matthew Shea (R) has been fighting the government’s abuse of eminent domain for years, continually introducing legislation to protect property owners and to require the state to offer a “Right of First Repurchase” to the original owner when selling surplus property.
“After the Kelo v. New London decision eminent domain use exploded. That decision said that the government can take the property from a private individual and give it to another private individual if it increase tax revenue. That goes against everything the Founders intended,” Shea told Storyleak.
“Eminent Domain should only be used for infrastructure like roads and emergency services and only as a last resort. Sometimes government through eminent domain acquires property that it doesn’t even use for the intended purpose and then sells it later as “surplus” for a profit,” Shea added.
Under state law the city is required to compensate Woldson, who can also challenge the property price and condemnation in court. The city would not comment on the issue due to the possibility of a litigation.