Aug. 18th Officially Certified As Annexation Vote Date

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Photo of City Manager Mike Martin by Michael Brunk

by Ralph Nichols

It’s official. Several thousand North Highline residents now can mark Aug. 18th – primary election day – on their calendars as the date they will decide at last whether to be annexed by Burien.

City Manager Mike Martin said Friday (May 22nd) the 30-day period to appeal the King County Boundary Review Board’s prior approval of Burien’s plan to annex the south part of the North Highline unincorporated area expired May 18 with no challenge being filed.

“In all these years of talking about annexation, we’ve never been to this point,” Martin noted. “This is a major advancement … I encourage them, whether they like the idea of annexation or not, to vote.”

The August primary marks “the first time the county will hold an all mail-in election,” he continued. “I hope this increases voter turnout. After all these years, we’re looking for something definite about the preference of residents up there.”

In the meantime, language for the ballot measure will be written, and Burien will continue to hold informational forums in North Highline. The next forum is scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, from 6 to 7:15 p.m. at Southern Heights Elementary School, 11249 14th Ave. South.

State law requires a simple majority vote of residents in an area designated for annexation before the merger can take effect. Residents of an annexing city do not vote on the question.

As seen in the map at left, the south part of the North Highline unincorporated area that will become part of Burien if annexation is approved by voters is defined by a zigzag line that extends west to east along Southwest 112th Street in north Shorewood, South 116th Street, South 112th Street, and South 107th Street in Boulevard Park, ending at Tukwila.

Left in the remaining unincorporated area between Burien and Seattle would be the North Highline fire station, Evergreen High School and Pool, and the Top Hat neighborhood. Much of Beverly Park and Boulevard Park, including the Rainier Golf and Country Club, would be absorbed by Burien.

Proposals to annex North Highline have generated controversy in both Burien and North Highline – and between Burien and Seattle after Mayor Greg Nickels claimed the White Center area and beyond for his city – ever since Countywide Planning Policies, a regional offshoot of Washington’s Growth Management Act, called for King County’s unincorporated urban areas to be included in cities by 2012.

The county also targeted North Highline for annexation in 2003 in the wake of the first in a succession of severe budget shortfalls, and offered financial assistance to cities that annex unincorporated urban areas.

In 2006, Burien, Seattle and King County agreed to work cooperatively for annexation of the entire unincorporated area by one or both cities. But despite their Memorandum of Understanding to resolve the issue, Seattle never responded to offers by Burien to settle competing claims on North Highline. This inaction led Burien to adopt independently early last year its plan to annex the south part of the unincorporated area.

Seattle objected to Burien’s annexation plan and challenged it before the Boundary Review Board. Following a public hearing in March, the board formally approved Burien’s request on April 16.

If North Highline voters approve annexation on Aug. 18th, the city will begin the legal and logistical processes of incorporation and those residents will become part of Burien in March 2010.

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