Wednesday, October 12, 2005

450 New Parking Spaces

"Greensburg Council authorized its solicitor Monday to use condemnation and eminent domain powers if necessary to acquire land for more downtown parking.

After last night's meeting, Solicitor Tim McCormick described property negotiations so far as cordial. But he said he wanted to have council's endorsement to use condemnation or eminent domain if needed.

In September, council approved spending up to $1.9 million to buy properties to create 450 new parking spaces.

Parking is a greater concern because of the anticipated opening next year of a new state office building on North Main Street, about a block from the Westmoreland County Courthouse. At times, especially when the courts are in session, finding parking can be difficult near the courthouse." [Bob Stiles, "Greensburg solicitor granted eminent domain power," Tribune-Review, October 11, 2005]
I'm not sure why we want government to have the power to take property for new downtown parking spaces. If parking really is scarce, why wouldn't we expect private property owners to see potential profit in parking spaces? I see no reason to expect any of the traditional market failures of economics to be relevant in this case. Government may be seeking greater revenue from renting parking spaces. But I wouldn't want to consider this to fall within the "public use" constraint to the eminent domain power. Each of the parking spaces is rented by an individual, and not one of the parking spaces can be shared by all the people who make up "the public."

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