SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council will debate whether or not to invoke eminent domain laws in order to acquire a large downtown parking lot from a 103-year-old woman in an effort to ease parking congestion as Highway 99 demolition and tunnel work nears, the Seattle Times reported.
The parking lot — located between Seneca Street and Spring Street to the west of Western Avenue — has long been considered a valuable, sought-after space, the Times reported. The estimated $7 million lot is owned by Myrtle Woldson, 103.
Woldson was recently approached by the city in an attempt to lease spaces from the lot to help ease a projected downtown parking crunch as workers build the Highway 99 tunnel and seawall, the paper reported.
Woldson declined to lease spaces to the city, and now the city is taking action to condemn the lot and acquire it at “just compensation.”
The city will hold a public hearing on Oct. 10 to discuss the possible acquisition of the lot. The city does not often used its power of eminent domain — the process of taking private land for public use — but reportedly considers it necessary in planning for a worst-case scenario parking situation that could harm downtown businesses.
“The parking is going to continue to be eroded on the central waterfront, especially once demolition of the viaduct begins,” Seattle Department of Transportation Spokesman Rick Sheridan told the Times.
Eminent domain acquisitions must only be used for property intended a public use. Private owners can challenge the acquisition in court. According to the Times, many downtown business owners back the proposed acquisition as parking spaces will continue to disappear with the destruction of the viaduct and worker parking.