Should Seattle annex White Center and vicinity? City Council committee to discuss Wednesday; ‘intention’ notice due Friday

Will the Seattle City Council move ahead with an attempt to annex White Center and the rest of unincorporated North Highline?

(Potential annexation area is in green)
The topic will come back before the council’s Education and Governance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Tim Burgess, this Wednesday morning, largely because time is running out for a specific notice to be filed, if the city wants to keep its options open for accessing a tax credit that would make annexation more financially viable. Details are on our partner site White Center Now; we’re also putting the question “annex, yes or no?” out to all nine City Council District 1 candidates.

42 Replies to "Should Seattle annex White Center and vicinity? City Council committee to discuss Wednesday; 'intention' notice due Friday"

  • catsup June 1, 2015 (11:47 am)


  • Ray June 1, 2015 (11:59 am)

    No. I moved here to get away from Seattle’s ridiculous busybodies that keep wanting to jack up my taxes for every little feel good project someone proposes. Seattle has enough willing victims.

  • resident June 1, 2015 (12:07 pm)

    On behalf of all my friends living the proposed annex zone I say NO. I would not wish City of Seattle politics, taxes, or building codes on anyone but worst enemies.

  • Karen June 1, 2015 (12:22 pm)

    I would rather be part of Seattle than Burien…we turned Burien away at the polls.

  • Karen June 1, 2015 (12:23 pm)

    I always find it interesting that Holy Family Parish is already carved out to be part of the City of Seattle..Anyway you can research and provide some info of when that happened?

    • WSB June 1, 2015 (12:36 pm)

      Hi, Karen. I am swamped and can’t right now. Maybe someone reading this knows.

  • m June 1, 2015 (12:24 pm)

    Yes! The city should be able to tax the individuals that still benefit from the services of Seattle.

  • Ivan June 1, 2015 (12:31 pm)

    To my friends in North Highline: Just say NO!

  • Ray June 1, 2015 (12:37 pm)


    We do pay for the services we get from the city. We are supported by King County police, have our own water and fire districts and then pay for any utility services we get from the city as part of our bills and at market rates. We subsidize transportation with the same county taxes that all King County residents pay. Please inform yourself.

  • Bonnie June 1, 2015 (12:48 pm)

    Curious if the school lines would change also? Would that area stay in Highline or become part of SPS?

    • WSB June 1, 2015 (12:54 pm)

      The annexation vote has absolutely no effect on school district lines, it’s been said by officials in various branches of government. Just city/county governance. The Highline district would still start at the city/county line.

  • AmandaKH June 1, 2015 (1:08 pm)

    White Center can either be part of Seattle or incorporate themselves – those are their options. I would like to see them be part of Seattle personally.

  • forgotmyname June 1, 2015 (1:09 pm)

    Hmmm…I’m torn. On one hand, no, I do not want to pay the Seattle premium on taxes and services (and it’ll kill my “I live across the street from Seattle” joke), but…on the other hand, maybe it’ll keep cretins who don’t live here from treating WC like the wild, wild west (e.g., the kids from Burien who drove up to shoot fireworks off on our street because there ‘are no rules’ in WC). Ultimately, I think the County will force the issue. The folks I talk to that work for KC give me the impression that there’s a ‘tired of taking care of WC’ feeling going on.

  • Patrick June 1, 2015 (1:15 pm)

    Yes let’s continue to be unincorporated. Same piddling benefits and non-existent services. I for one enjoy waiting 3 hours for a policeman to arrive after my home has been robbed.
    Sarcasm aside, the fact that this urban area is STILL unincorporated is ridiculous. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Buses that will pick us up every 15 minutes instead of the current 30? A actual Parks Department that can clean up all the syringes and empty beer bottles that are left in our often neglected parks?Something has to give.

  • dsa June 1, 2015 (1:23 pm)


  • cj June 1, 2015 (1:58 pm)

    Ah here we go again, and again, … For the love of all humanity yes annex White Center. It has one deputy, its a haven for hit and run crime between Seattle and White Center. So many issues unsolvable due to jurisdiction issues. If the question didn’t come up every year or two and if they were not just exactly south of us I would say sure let them be but its pretty obvious by now that White Center is not exactly handling their own problems, so yes … Annex them.

  • ChefJoe June 1, 2015 (2:16 pm)

    Annex everyone you can…. only way we’re going to be able to cover the Bertha cost overruns when the state holds pat on “sticking it to Seattle”.

  • Peter June 1, 2015 (2:18 pm)

    I believe it is state policy (someone correct me if I’m wrong) that unincorporated urban areas must either incorporate by themselves or annex to an adjacent town or city. This is because unincorporated areas are subsidized to a greater degree by state funding. So, White Center’s options are to be annexed by Burien (already rejected by the voters), incorporate as their own city (they don’t have the tax base to do that), or be annexed by Seattle (the only option left). Just as a note, and again someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe an unincorporated area can be annexed to another city by mutual agreement of the city, county, and state, which is what will almost certainly happen if annexation to Seattle is voted down. The bottom line is that White Center is going to be annexed by Seattle, the only question is if it’s by vote or by mutual agreement.

  • Delridge June 1, 2015 (3:33 pm)

    Yes. Make it part of Seattle. It’s not 1950 anymore, and they are getting a better deal from the county than the rest of us urban folks.

    And someone please enlighten me as to what – exactly – the difference is between taxes in Seattle and taxes in unincorporated King County. No urban legends, no anecdotal evidence that Grandpaw heard from Uncle Ned just before he went off to the Army in 1967. Just the facts.

  • Paul June 1, 2015 (4:03 pm)

    I am not a white center resident, so ultimately I don’t have the right to vote on the topic. However, White Center is going to be Annexed (by someone) or must incorporate themselves. From the annexation perspective, Burien was turned away which leaves few options including Seattle _and_ I don’t see any movement for White Center to form it’s own city government (which would be pretty sweet). It’s clear that County Services which were designed and resources for rural area are just not enough for this area (Police, Fire, Etc).

    What are the alternatives? They county has said staying un-incorporated is not one of them

  • forgotmyname June 1, 2015 (5:02 pm)

    @Delridge – Sales tax is 8.6% vs Seattle’s 9.5% Property taxes are both 1.78%, but are actually less due to valuation. There are other things that some consider a benefit like keeping roosters and construction without a permit….

    @Paul – At this point, it’s annexation or incorporation. Or kicking and screaming “no” until the former is legislatively mandated. Personally, I’d prefer annexation.

  • KM June 1, 2015 (5:36 pm)

    @patrick FWIW, you won’t get much of an improved response time for home robberies if you incorporate. I’d still love to have you guys though!

  • smokeycretin9 June 1, 2015 (5:42 pm)

    Oh who will dance with White Center at the ball? No one?

  • Robert L. Price Bob June 1, 2015 (6:10 pm)

    I say no to Seattle. I lived in Seattle for 20 years and you don’t get what you pay for so I moved to get out of there. The money they get to support the new area will mostly be used to support their already screwed up projects. i. e. The need more suckers to help pay for their tunnel project. And police protection will not improve as they built a new police station in their high crime area (Delridge) And their crime wave has not improved at all. I say no to Seattle. And as for voting Burien down a batch of self serving people with a lot of money pushed a no vote by telling lies and 1/2 truths to the voters. They own lots of property in the area and didn’tlike Buriens zoning laws. Thanks.

  • Delridge June 1, 2015 (6:24 pm)

    forgetmyname, Thank you!

    It’s less than 1% difference in sales tax on stuff that you mostly can’t buy in the unincorporated area. Since there’s no tax base to speak of, that’s mostly McLendon’s, which is worth shopping at anyway.

    Homes are worth less in WC, and we’re talking a 1.78% taxation rate to begin with? That translates to they get the “cachet” of a Seattle address, without the Seattle level of service.

    Construction still requires a permit in King County. It’s just easier to get away with substandard stuff when resources are stretched thin, so that’s a benefit for slumlords only.

    Roosters? Having grown up on a farm, I have no comment on that, except to say I dislike them intensely ;-)

    Yep. I agree with you. Annexation is a no-brainer.

  • maplesyrup June 1, 2015 (6:37 pm)

    It’s a matter of time before someone annexes it or it becomes its own city. I just want the crime cleaned up, and it’s pretty obvious that leaving the King County Sheriff to manage everything is not cutting it. Not to disparage their efforts but we need more police presence there, because it affects everyone in the surrounding area.

  • Ray June 1, 2015 (6:41 pm)

    The ONLY reason for Seattle to annex us is so they have another captive tax base to raid to pay for their stupid, overindulgent pet projects.

    Just look at West Seattle as an example. Many parts of South West Seattle has unpaved alleys and whatnot, frequent losses of power, and high crime. Seattle has not been able to provide adequate support and upkeep for that part of town. White Center would be that, but much, much worse.

    Not sure why Seattle residents support this. All studies of the cost to annex and then provide the necessary services to get White Center up to “spec” are way more than the taxable base of the area. Seattle would be losing a lot of money that it would never be able to make up from the area. It is a net operating loss going forward every year. The home and shopping tax base here does not validate this activity.

  • Blah June 1, 2015 (6:58 pm)

    For those who do not know… There is no long-term option of staying unincorporated. The county does not want to keep spending $$ providing services to these urban areas next to other cities. I believe it has been mandated that all areas in between cities like White Center, North Highline, Skyway, etc. must become cities or become part of other cities. You already rejected Burien, the only other options are Seattle or to incorporate White Center as it’s own city.

    Personally, I’ve always kind of considered White Center as part of West Seattle and would like to see it become part of the city.

  • Seagoat June 1, 2015 (8:16 pm)

    I’m a homeowner in White Center and I say YES.

  • T June 1, 2015 (8:39 pm)

    One reason Burien was rejected was that they were still digesting the chunk of the area they had recently annexed. Once they have that done they should try annexing WC again and if Burien is financially back to where they were they will most likely be successful.

  • ChefJoe June 1, 2015 (8:40 pm)

    FWIW, Seattle’s sales tax is now 9.6% to help pay for metro service. You have a full 1% now.

    Hey, maybe you guys can demand more lanes on the high-bridge as a part of being annexed ?

  • Denny June 1, 2015 (8:41 pm)

    does this bring Seattle’s $15 minimum wage (@ $11 in 2015) to the annexation? that’s new since the last time…not sure how many employers it affects – or employees?

  • T June 1, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    Also, I would guess that most people in WC would have voted against the tunnel so that may be a tough sell for Seattle in the voting.

  • B June 1, 2015 (11:07 pm)

    @WSB – your link to the report is broken, it shouldn’t have the internal IP (i.e it should be

    • WSB June 1, 2015 (11:09 pm)

      At the time I linked it, the one w/internal # was what came up on Google and when I tried stripping it out, it resolved immediately back to that. If it’s working normally now, great. Thanks! (Added later: Still will only work for me with the numerical start. Have no idea why.)

  • westwood neighbor June 2, 2015 (10:05 am)

    Seattle should absolutely put annexation on the ballot, and I believe the voters would say yes. The state’s tax structure and the Growth Management Act do not allow counties to provide urban level services. The county simply does not have the money to provide the road maintenance, parks, and human services White Center needs.
    So, it must be annexed or incorporate. White Center does not have the size or tax base to incorporate. And we don’t need more small cities. Joining Burien would have been okay, but that is unlikely to happen any day soon.
    Seattle should add White Center. Seattle is the richest, largest city in the state. White Center needs the programs that Seattle can offer. Taxes would be slightly higher, but services much higher. Half of WC is in Seattle, and the city would be able to better provide neighborhood and business planning and assistance to help White Center flourish. There are over 300 businesses in White Center and a strong neighborhood ethic. If White Center was annexed, I believe you would see it attract young people who want to live in the city, but are currently priced out.
    Seattle must annex White Center and the rest of North Highline. It is well past time.

    • WSB June 2, 2015 (10:15 am)

      For those checking back on this thread: We have received responses from all but one District 1 candidate and are putting them together for a separate story today.

  • Barb June 2, 2015 (10:15 am)

    For Karen (at 12:22 PM) – The parcel Holy Family Church and adjacent parcels was annexed by city ordinance in 1946. The church was built a couple years later, so I would imagine it would have had something to do with the overall process of acquiring a building permit, the level required of inspection expertise needed, time or travel invested for inspections or the fact that the ownership is with the Archdiocese nearby. It is likely to have been a cooperative approach to new construction with the county’s ‘blessings’. You would probably need to go to city or state archives to see the original ordinance and other related information. I expect that you will find it was just a decision of expedience for both the city and county. Jurisdictions often cooperate on these types of issues.

  • D Del Rio June 2, 2015 (12:36 pm)

    I predict urban village like development in White Center if annexed. Just think West Seattle Junction south. Some might think it’s good, some bad

  • Courtney June 3, 2015 (8:48 am)

    My area (within that Section Y) of Top Hat voted NO recently to joining Burien, pretty overwhelmingly if I recall the vote count. Mostly because the taxes and fees would increase without increased services.

    Hopefully we don’t get eaten by Seattle – for even higher taxes and no better services that we’re getting. Leave us alone Seattle!

  • Mark J June 3, 2015 (11:16 pm)

    Let me dispel some of the typical misunderstandings about taxes that have shown up in these comments.

    Property taxes in White Center are not lower than in Seattle. In fact, they are almost 45% *higher* (W/C $13.40 per thousand and Seattle $9.27 per thousand). Seattle takes $2.62 for city services, but White Center pays $2.25 to the county for Road Services and $1.00 to the fire district for fire department services. Who is getting the most value from their tax dollar? The King County Road Services tax in White Center generates millions of dollars per year of revenue for the County. When was the last time any of those millions were actually reinvested back into White Center?

    Right now, the assessor website does not show a local school tax in the 2015 tax year assessment in White Center. If it had the $2.39 Seattle pays in local school taxes, White Center’s property tax assessment would be more than 50% higher than Seattle’s.

    When White Center residents buy taxable merchandise in Tukwila, Burien or Seattle, whose benefit does the local portion of that sales tax go? (Hint, it’s not to White Center!)

    White Center has a casino, and King County levies a rate of 11% of gross revenue of card games. How are the gambling tax receipts generated in White Center being spent? Surprisingly, King County might not be able to tell you. They’re not paying attention at that level of detail.

    So no, in summary, White Center residents aren’t realizing the benefits of the taxes they pay to the same extent city residents do. No wonder Ray’s comment above is that White Center needs a lot to be brought “up to spec”.

    These facts aside, the White Center area voted for King County at the last annexation vote. It’s not clear whether those at the Chamber of Commerce who led the rhetoric for the campaign against annexation to Burien will be any more likely to want to support annexation to Seattle now that the city has passed a $15 per hour minimum wage. That’s new since those in the Chamber were reported to favor annexation to Seattle.

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