Seattle Still Wants North Highline, But Not Now
by Jack Mayne
Seattle remains interested in annexing North Highline, but just not now.
North Highline “Area Y” voters soundly rejected in November the proposal that the area join with Burien. Burien says that was the decision and nothing more to do but carry on with business as usual.
Then the King County Boundary Review Board said no to the annexation of so-called Duwamish Triangle, a piece of land along the west side of the Duwamish River and bordered by West Marginal way. The area includes about 40 residents, some of whom live on boats at the Duwamish Yacht Club, 1801 S. 93rd St., according to Tukwila city documents.
Seattle officials say they still want all of still unincorporated North Highline but right now the money is not there for them to take it over.
Seattle Council President Sally Clark said the city has “nothing yet to report” at this time.
“We’re figuring out next steps after the Boundary Review Board’s rejection of Tukwila’s move for the Triangle. The Burien vote was a surprise to me. No Seattle action scheduled yet,” Clark said in an e-mail.
Seattle Council member Tom Rasmussen, a West Seattle resident, says he has “not heard anyone at the Seattle Council proposing that White Center become part of Seattle following the White Center voter rejecting the idea of becoming part of Burien.
“Perhaps someone is interested but no one has expressed that interest in the past two months.”
In December, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Council President Clark said the city’s desire to pursue annexation of entire North Highline area, including area Q, which includes the “Triangle” and “Sliver” at South Park, “remains unchanged.”
“The City has recognized that the best interest and general welfare of the city may be served by annexation of Area Y (as well as Area Q),” the Seattle leaders wrote. “However, extensive financial analysis showed that, even in the best case scenario, Area Y would not generate sufficient revenues to cover the expenditures Seattle would face in annexing that area.”
McGinn and Clark wrote that “with the voters’ rejection of Burien’s proposed annexation of ‘Area Y,’ Seattle intends to consider; once again, whether to proceed with an annexation election in Area Y.”
But the city has reached no decision as of late January.
“While the economic recession has eased, the city’s budget is still constrained. Updated financial analysis will need to be performed regarding the revenues and expenditures associated with an annexation of Area Y, along with any potential external sources of revenue that could offset such expenditures.
“The Washington State sales tax credit that Seattle could use to mitigate the financial impact of annexing Area Y is an important incentive for Seattle. State law currently provides that the City must commence annexation before Jan. 1, 2015; for Seattle to be eligible for the state assistance, so Seattle intends to move expeditiously with our review.”
So the county remains holding the bag, but it wants to expedite the movement of the area into a city, says King County policy analyst Karen Freeman.
“We’re continuing to work with the cities of Seattle, Burien, Tukwila and Fire District 11 to develop the most robust options available in North Highline for governance of the Y, Q, and ‘The Sliver’ areas.
“As with all the large islands of urban unincorporated area that remain, it takes time to develop thoughtful and mutually agreeable land use and governance solutions – but we remain committed to resolving the annexations of North Highline, West Hill, Fairwood, East Renton, Klahanie and Federal Way before the state sales tax credit to encourage annexations expires in 2015.”