Issaquah, Sammamish reach preliminary Klahanie deal
April 8, 2014
By Ari Cetron
Leaders from Issaquah and Sammamish announced a deal April 4 that will provide for the transfer of the Klahanie potential annexation area to Sammamish. The agreement is preliminary and will still need to be approved by both city councils.
In broad terms, Sammamish gets Klahanie, and Issaquah gets support on a host of other issues.
The move comes after just a week and a half after the Issaquah City Council asked Mayor Fred Butler to enter talks with the city’s northern neighbor to see how releasing the entire potential annexation area would benefit the region.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought over time and entered the talks with a view towards improving regional cooperation and looking at ways our two cities could work together,” Butler said. “This is an important issue that needs to be resolved.”
He had two meetings with Sammamish Mayor Tom Vance and the second one produced a draft agreement.
“It appeared we were a lot more in agreement than we realized,” Butler said. “There was a flurry of activity to put the pieces together.”
He said the administration had looked at only releasing part of the area and offering annexation to the southern portion. However, he said the administration found greater benefits to the region and the Klahanie area with the release of the whole area, including Sammamish’s commitment to improve Issaquah-Fall City Road.
“That long-standing problem would be addressed much, much quicker if Sammamish had the whole potential annexation area.” Butler said. “When you take all of this into consideration, it just seemed like it was time to move on, take a regional perspective on this issue and put our energies to better use.”
A prepared statement offered agreement from Sammamish leadership as well.
“On this issue, and many others, a continued commitment to a good working partnership between our two cities is exactly what the region needs,” Vance said.
“It also is a signal to the county to get started on their end,” Vance said in an interview.
Each city’s council is slated to begin review of the agreement next week. Sammamish is scheduled to take a final vote on it April 15, while Issaquah would vote April 21.
If approved in its current state, the deal calls for Issaquah to take necessary steps to relinquish the Klahanie area by the end of 2014.
The cities agree to make a joint effort before the necessary county boards in advocating for moving the area from Issaquah to Sammamish, and to cooperate in fending off any legal challenges to the move.
In exchange, Sammamish agrees that it will support Issaquah’s effort to be designated as an urban center by the county’s Growth Management Planning Council and as a regional growth center by the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Sammamish agrees that it will not take the state retail sales tax credit to which it would be entitled after the annexation.
Sammamish also agrees to expedite its promised repairs to Issaquah-Fall City Road. Within six months of annexation, the cities will agree on the scope and timing of the project.
Sammamish agrees that within one year of annexing the area, it will set aside $3 million for preliminary design work on the road. Sammamish will also amend its transportation plan to make fixing that road one of its top four road projects.
Sammamish will then begin to seek state and federal grant funds, and Issaquah will support that effort.
Sammamish also acknowledges it will benefit from the study Issaquah completed related to its own effort to annex the area and agrees to pay $30,000 to Issaquah for the use of that study and any background information associated with it.
Issaquah paid about $96,000 for the study and more than $111,000 overall studying the annexation issue.
The process is far from over. Once Issaquah completes removing Klahanie from its annexation area, Sammamish would have to add it to its own area. The matter would then be put to a vote of Klahanie residents. The vote would pass with a simple majority of those residents. The Sammamish City Council would also need to approve the annexation.
Klahanie is about a 2-square-mile area home to about 10,000 people. It’s roughly triangular in shape, bordered by Issaquah-Pine Lake Road, Issaquah-Fall City Road and Southeast 32nd Street.
The area is in unincorporated King County, but is inside the Urban Growth Boundary, so it is envisioned in the county’ long-range plans to become part of a city. Currently, only Issaquah could annex the area. In a Feb. 11 election, only 49.5 percent of residents in the area supported becoming part of Issaquah.
Sammamish has also made overtures toward Klahanie indicating it would also like to annex the area. The Sammamish City Council resolved to fast-track its efforts to annex the area if Klahanie residents chose not to become part of Issaquah.
The agreement, if approved, formalizes the transfer from one city to the other and would likely serve to expedite the process.
Reporter Peter Clark contributed to this story.