Mary Cheh Unveils Gas Station Subsidy Plan

Mike DeBonis reports that Ward 3’s Mary Cheh has managed to come up with a worse idea than Marion Barry’s bizarre ban on rental apartments. Cheh wants to make it more difficult for people who own gas stations to sell the land to people who want to turn it into something other than a gas station:

A bill that Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced earlier this year was relatively limited — prohibiting a gas distributor, or “jobber,” such as [Joe] Mamo, from also operating retail stations. That would affect a small portion of Mamo’s stations where he directly contracts with operators to run the stations. What Cheh’s committee sent to the full council Monday is quite a bit broader. It gives franchise operators of gas stations the right of first refusal to buy their station if their landlord (i.e. Mamo) were to sell it. This is crucial because many gas stations sit on valuable property ripe for development. Giving the operators a chance to buy their stations stands to complicate or prevent any transaction.

Why on earth would we want to intervene in the market to ensure a large quantity of gas stations? Various proposals to do this seem to keep cropping up on the DC Council. But the tendency of a city’s gas stations to vanish in favor of higher value uses is just a sign of a city getting richer. It’s also good for the environment, etc.