Capitol Parking Lots Are Worth $350 Million

Lydia DePillis writes about Congress’ horde of surface parking lots:

At the same time, a tea-partying Congress is pushing the General Services Administration to sell off underused real estate in hopes of streamlining the federal portfolio and generating some extra cash. The Capitol grounds don’t fall under the General Services Administration’s authority; Congress tends to exempt itself from policies it pushes on the executive branch. But how much would they net the government if they were sold off? Adding up each of the lots, using their current D.C. assessed values, yields a ballpark estimate: About $350 million.

There are two ways of looking at it. One is that as an austerity measure, unlike cutbacks in federal spending, selling this land would reduce debt in a way that boosts the economy since some employment would be created developing the land. Another way is that if you sell the land and “cash out” the revenue in the form of higher pay to congressional staff, the overall impact on the federal balance sheet is nil, but the city benefits.