Seattle seizes elderly woman's parking lot to turn it into -- a parking lot

The city of Seattle is forcing a 103-year-old woman to give up her private waterfront parking lot to make way for a city-owned parking lot.

The City Council voted Monday to use its power of eminent domain to acquire the lot owned by Spokane resident Myrtle Woldson, who has repeatedly turned down offers to purchase the property, reported.

She’s 103! Couldn’t they just wait a few years? Very likely her heirs would sell it. Sheesh!

don’t have all the details, but this sounds like abuse.

While I agree morally its an abuse of power and authority as well as contrary to the intentions of the founding fathers in the constitution…

Legally it probably isn’t abuse. The supreme court a few years back said that the government could use eminent domain to take property from one private party and sell/provide it to another private party under the reasoning that— the projected increase in revenues from taxes was a valid public use under the 5th? amendment, I think.

I can’t remember the case name, it was in the northeast. I’ll do a little research and post a link.


Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1] was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified private redevelopment plans as a permissible “public use” under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The case arose in the context of condemnation by the city of New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property, so that it could be used as part of a “comprehensive redevelopment plan.” However, the private developer was unable to obtain financing and abandoned the redevelopment project, leaving the land as an empty lot, which was eventually turned into a temporary dump.[2]

As long as she is paid fair market value for the property there is nothing wrong with the government using eminent domain to acquire property for other purposes. We can’t have one landowner being able to hold cities, towns, counties and states as hostage because they are selfish.

Site your source, please, as I would like to look into this. I live in Seattle, and haven’t heard about this, yet.

I’m sure she could go to our local stations’ problem solvers and then we’d all be there to help her.

I have a huge problem with the government taking by force property from one-person just to give it to another. Who are we to tell someone what to do with their property? Particularly when the purpose for use of the property isn’t even changing.

Fair market value? Who sets it? What if the property has been in your family for generations? What if you just flat out don’t want to move?

Its ok for us as the public to be selfish, to grasp at other folks things for what we believe they should be used for?

Seattle has terrible public transportation, and parking is a nightmare downtown. They would rather spend money on new stadiums. Try driving there when there’s a Mariners game!

The two problems here are that, first, the government determines what is fair market value, and even if it is obviously not a fair amount of money, there is literally no recourse. They could declare $50 fair market value if they really wanted to. On top of that, there is really nothing keeping them from taking whatever they want. They don’t like the local Catholic church? Eminent domain - we need a new gas station!

I’m with you this could lead to abuse by government and that is always a bad thing. Better for the people to have the edge than the government.

That could be said about any city with a professional sports franchise. I know it’s true in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

This isn’t the first time that Seattle has gone this route. A few years back, they used eminent domain to buy up business along a proposed monorail route. There was not enough right-of-way to put the monorail infrastructure into place, so they needed to acquire nearby properties. Owners whose properties were along the route saw their properties condemned and they were bought by the city after they were paid a ‘fair market value,’ without ever putting the properties on the market. The value here was set by the city rather that through a disinterested third party.

Move the clock forward a few years and we see that Seattle is no longer going to build the monorail route, so they choose to sell the properties. Rather than offering first right of refusal to the previous owners, the city used the open market. Most of the displaced businesses were unable to afford the new ‘market’ price so the properties changed hands, businesses were destroyed, and the city quietly pocketed the gains from the appreciated value of the properties.

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.” -James Bovard

No the government can not just claim $50 as fair market value. The most recent fair market value is what is the valuation was for property tax purposes. If their are other considerations the property owner can present those when eminent domain occurs.

But who has the final say so? In most cases the government. There are many stories of eminent domain being used and owners not getting their just due.:frowning:

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

Benjamin Franklin (although there are some who question the attribution to Franklin)

No, but the government can and does reduce services to an area, promote its deterioration, declare it blighted, which all reduce the market value. Then the declaration of blight and the knowledge the government is seeking to acquire the properties depress the market value. The government declares market value not based on the prior values of the property, but the depressed value they were instrumental in causing.

Ever been involved with folks who’ve gone through this?

I don’t have an issue with eminent domain. I agree with concept. And again, I don’t have all the details. But she owned a parking lot. The govt bought it via eminent domain and kept it as a parking lot. Why did the govt need to buy it from her? If they made it into parking garage or somehow increased the number of spots to help the community; then I can understand.

But if the govt bought it just so they could receive the revenue, then that’s abuse. Eminent domain is supposed to improve the community, not be a source of revenue.

Again, please remember, I don’t have all the details.


I’ve just read about this on

Sounds like abuse. Sounds like the govt is doing this because they want to control that piece of land.

This is abuse of eminent domain. Plain and simple. And I still don’t have all the facts. It might be “legal” but its not withing the spirit of the law. It’s an exploitation of the law, the govt is using a legal loop-hole and taking advantage of the circumstances.

And you know what… They might be using it as a parking lot now, but if the govt gets too keep this land, it sure won’t stay one forever. They will develop it and make more money one way or another. They are simply doing what they can to keep private citizens for determining the future of that land.

An abuse of power.

I agree with you. It is an abuse of power, eminent domain is often abused in this country.

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