Democrats on the Seattle City Council want to use their eminent domain power to force the sale of an elderly woman’s property in order to run a city-owned parking lot. Oddly, the property is already a parking lot, providing drivers with 134 parking stalls near Seattle’s waterfront. The waterfront is slated for redevelopment as part of the state’s $2.1 billion tunnel project for State Route 99. Once construction is complete, property values in the area are expected to soar.
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The city’s plan is to force the sale of the property for a undisclosed price, then charge drivers $3.00 to $4.00 an hour for parking. Profits generated by the site would go to the city. Council documents say that if eminent domain authority is not used against the current owner the government will “miss an opportunity” which “will result in lost revenue to the City.” No mention is made of the economic losses suffered by the current owner, or that Council Democrats want to force her into the transaction against her will.
Critics of wasteful spending often say that government should run more like a business, but taking people’s private property and then running it as a for-profit operation is not what they have in mind.