Saturday, August 15, 2015

Seattle Might Use Eminent Domain To Return A Beach To The Public While In Fort Worth...

Today we have an extremely twisted variant of our popular series of items I read in west coast online news sources, usually the Seattle Times, which would likely not appear in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

What you see here I saw in the Seattle Times and it is something I have seen in the Star-Telegram.

The use of eminent domain to take private property.

Texas, or maybe it is just Tarrant County, uses a unique version of eminent domain.

In Washington, and elsewhere in America, eminent domain is used as a last resort to take private property for the common good, for things like building a highway, hospital, school, park and other things deemed needed for public use.

In Tarrant County I have witnessed eminent domain abused to take private property for a mall parking lot, for a corporate headquarters, for a sports stadium and for a badly executed economic development project which has abused eminent domain to take private property to build an un-needed flood diversion ditch and three little bridges.

The worst eminent domain abuse I have witnessed is that which took place in Arlington to build the Dallas Cowboys a new stadium. Texan's homes were bulldozed to smithereens while the owners had not yet had their case heard in court. This provoked widespread outrage, but no criminal charges. I long ago documented this on a Dallas Cowboy Stadium Scandal webpage.

Now. Contrast how eminent domain is abused in Tarrant County with how and why eminent domain is proposed to be used in Seattle via the Seattle Times Sell or we use eminent domain, Seattle mayor tells owners of beach lot article....

The long battle is continuing over a 60-foot-wide beach lot where Northeast 130th Street dead-ends into the Lake Washington shoreline.

The latest salvo came Thursday from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

He has ordered that the city cut a deal with the two owners adjoining the lot on each side. Then it can revert to public use as lake access.

The opening offer will be $400,000, says a spokesman for the mayor.

And if those negotiations fail, Murray plans to ask the City Council for an ordinance to wield that special hammer reserved for government agencies — eminent domain.

To put the $400,000 in perspective, a nearby unbuildable lot on the same street — Riviera Place Northeast — is currently offered for sale at $119,950.

The lot had been publicly used for 82 years as beach access.

Then, due to inept document handling back in 1932, ownership went recently to Holmquist and Kaseburg. The city fought them in court, and lost.

In March, the two put up a chain-link fence and security cameras, recently replaced by a more aesthetic wooden fence.

But a sign still warns, “Private property. No trespassing.” Another sign punctuated, “WARNING. Security Cameras in Use.”

Now, doesn't that sound like a much more civilized way to use eminent domain to acquire property for public use? Negotiate before bulldozing. What a concept.

In the Seattle case, that property had been used by the public since way back in the 1930s, til legal shenanigans took the property away from the public, which now has the city threatening to use eminent domain to return the property to public use.

But, my favorite part of the article was the part where the two "owners" replaced a chain link fence they had installed to keep the public out, with a "more aesthetic wooden fence."

Meanwhile, in Fort Worth, a park in the town's downtown, built to celebrate Fort Worth's heritage, hence named Heritage Park, had been a boarded up, chain link fence surrounded eyesore for years. With, apparently, no one thinking it might be a good idea to make the eyesore less so by surrounding it with a more aesthetically pleasing wooden fence....

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