Issaquah re-examines Klahanie annexation
January 22, 2013
By Warren Kagarise
Last annexation attempt failed in 2005
The question of how a large-scale annexation on the Sammamish Plateau could affect residents in Issaquah, Klahanie and other unincorporated King County neighborhoods is under the microscope again, almost a decade after a citizen panel tackled the issue.
Issaquah leaders commissioned a $100,000 study and created a citizen task force to examine the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area — 10,800 people in about 3,900 households in the namesake neighborhood and adjacent communities.
The potential annexation area under consideration is in unincorporated King County, and bordered by Issaquah to the south, Sammamish to the north and west, and more unincorporated areas to the east.
Issaquah leaders appointed a citizen task force Jan. 7 to examine how a possible annexation could change Issaquah and Klahanie. The task force was assigned to work while a consultant updates a 9-year-old study on possible annexation.
What to know
The mayor-appointed Annexation Advisory Task Force to examine a change of status for the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area includes residents from Issaquah and the potential annexation area, plus a representative from rural fire districts.
Klahanie Potential Annexation Area residents
King County fire districts 10 and 38
The 1,200-acre Klahanie Potential Annexation encompasses several neighborhoods between Issaquah and Sammamish.
The task force must work to “answer any questions the potential annexation area residents might have, so if there’s a vote, they can vote appropriately,” said member Bernadette Anne, a resident of Overdale Park, a neighborhood annexed by Issaquah in February 2000.
The key questions for the task force — as well as for Issaquah leaders, and residents in the city and potential annexation area — revolve around whether Issaquah could provide adequate government services, such as police protection, to the area without a dramatic increase in cost.
“The question about annexation is, how sustainable is the potential annexation area?” Anne said.
The nine-member task force is not assigned to make a recommendation to the council about annexation. Rather, members must ensure the updated study answers questions from residents in Issaquah and the potential annexation area.
“It looks like a good mix of people with varying views in the annexation area, within the city limits itself and the expertise needed to evaluate the technical data and the data collection in those areas where we’ve experienced problems in the past,” Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler said before the council appointed the task force members in a unanimous decision.
The task force is scheduled to meet monthly through April.
The consultant behind the 2004 annexation study, Nesbitt Planning & Management, is at work on the update.
The earlier study concluded residents should receive better government services for a lower overall tax burden, said Mark Hinthorne, Issaquah special projects director.
The task force appointments and study update represent the latest action related to the potential annexation area after a bid to bring the community into Issaquah failed.
In November 2005, 67 percent voters in the potential annexation area approved a measure to join Issaquah, but only 47 percent of voters agreed to shoulder a portion of Issaquah’s debt. The lack of approval for the debt measure led council members to balk at the annexation.
Though the annexation failed, officials in Issaquah, King County and Sammamish continued to discuss future plans for the area.
Interest in the communities remained high in the years after the failed annexation attempt, as residents from the potential annexation area continued to lobby for Issaquah to include the neighborhoods in long-term growth plans, and the council later listed a refreshed annexation study as a goal for 2013.
Issaquah and Sammamish officials discussed redrawing the potential annexation area in late 2007, but the proposal withered in both cities.
Then, in late 2009, as Sammamish considered a proposal to acquire Klahanie Park and nearby Issaquah School District property, Issaquah and Sammamish officials reopened discussions about the potential annexation area.
King County considered closing Klahanie Park in 2009 to cut costs, but wary neighborhood residents considered the move by Sammamish as a prelude to annexation. Sammamish later dropped plans to acquire the park and nearby property.
Many residents in the potential annexation area feel a connection to Issaquah because the community falls inside the Issaquah School District and homes have Issaquah postal addresses.
“These people feel like a part of Issaquah, because they either moved up there a long time ago before Sammamish even existed, or it’s just that when they drive out of their subdivision, they turn left instead of right,” Anne said.