Boundary Review Board approves Klahanie annexation vote
October 11, 2013
By Peter Clark
NEW — 1:10 p.m., Oct. 11 2013
In quick order, the King County Boundary Review Board unanimously gave preliminary approval to Issaquah’s annexation request for the Klahanie area Oct. 10.
Two long meetings were held last month where government representatives from Issaquah and Sammamish were joined by a slew of public opinion on the proposed annexation. The Boundary Review Board took the information given and returned with a decision for Klahanie voters to vote on whether Issaquah should include them in its borders.
“None of these are easy,” Board member Robert Cook said as the board held informal discussion before a vote. “And a couple factors gave us some sleepless nights. The overriding fact is that the city of Issaquah is responding to a petition of residents that want to be a part of the city. They did what they were asked to do by the citizenry. They did what they are mandated to do by state law. There really aren’t any losers in this, because the citizens will vote on this and determine their own fate. It’s kind of a win-win.”
Klahanie, a triangular wedge of unincorporated King County, borders Sammamish on two sides and Issaquah on the third. State law assumes that at some point one city or the other will absorb the area, home to more than 10,000 people.
Only Issaquah has the right to, but Sammamish also wants it. Issaquah is in the midst of attempting to annex Klahanie, and the decision by the Boundary Review Board is a step in the process.
The “factors” that might have led to sleepless nights for the board members included opposition from the city of Sammamish and the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District.
During the public hearing last month, Sammamish Mayor Tom Odell made the case that potential annexation areas, mandated by the Growth Management Act, were drawn before the consolidation of his city. He asked for a reconsideration of the boundaries to include the Klahanie area within Sammamish’s potential annexation area. The Boundary Review Board was sympathetic to the view, but did not have the power to act on it.
“We had a number of requests to reassign this potential annexation area to the city of Sammamish,” Board Chairwoman Mary Lynne Evans said. “We are not authorized to change the potential annexation status. The Growth Management Planning Council is the body to address this.”
Other concerns raised in the public hearing revolved around Sammamish warning there could be reduced fire protection should annexation occur, and the Water and Sewer District cautioning that Issaquah did not provide correct facts about utility service in light of its exploration to assume district wells.
Board member Sylvia Bushnell said assumptions should be expected under the Growth Management Act and chastised the district for drawing undeserved attention.
“The water district issue also bothered me,” Bushnell said. “I felt it was a red herring thrown out there. It’s appropriate for Issaquah to contemplate controlling its water resources.”
As for fire service, Evans had sharp words for Sammamish in regards to EFR complaints about being used as “a pawn.” Sammamish is considering withdrawing from the regional Eastside Fire & Rescue consortium. Should the Klahanie area go to Issaquah and it leave EFR, Sammamish has said it will likely close nearby Fire Station 83, which provides most of the fire and EMS services to the area.
“I looked very carefully at the fire district,” Evans said. “Firefighters did not want Fire Station 83 to ‘become a pawn’ in this discussion. And I totally agree. I think it’s reprehensible to make those services a pawn in this consideration.”
There is a 30-day window for appeals to be lodged against the board’s decision. Should its approval stand, a vote of Klahanie citizens will most likely occur in a February 2014 special election.
“If they don’t wish to join, the vote will tell that,” Evans said of Klahanie area residents. “I think the vote is the most important thing. I think the vote is the right thing to do.”