Date of Award

Spring 5-2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Global Honors

First Advisor

Charles Williams


In 2016 the city of Kent, Washington sold a public park to a housing developer. While this sale may seem typical, what was disconcerting to Kent residents was not only that they were losing a park, but also that they knew nothing of the sale. The entire process of selling the park to a housing developer had been in the works for more than ten years, and yet, no one thought to ask the residents about it. From this sale, several issues arose regarding city level government democracy and the role of citizens in policy decision-making. By critically examining the details of the Pine Tree Park sale through Kent’s public documents and local newspaper articles, I found that city leaders’ ideology surrounding economic vitality and their technocratic-based decision making, combined with inadequate citizen participation, led to the sale of Pine Tree Park. Moreover, these issues are not unique to Kent but are part of a larger global trend of democratic decline. This paper examines how the sale of one city’s park is a symptom of larger issues of democracy and also to explores potential solutions which can strengthen democracy.