City’s pursuit of South Park-area annexation on hold, pending one big demand

(Map from agenda for January 18th City Council committee meeting)

When last the City Council was briefed on the status of the city’s two potential annexation areas, back in January, there was talk that the smaller one – the Duwamish Annexation Area in the South Park vicinity – might go to the area’s 87 voters this summer.

That didn’t happen. And now we’re learning that the proposed Duwamish Annexation is on hold because of a costly issue the city wants the county to address first. That’s according to new information procured by, and provided to WSB by, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff.

According to a memo to City Councilmembers from city staff, here’s what the mayor’s office wants to see happen before going any further:

With potential sewer-related costs in the range of $14–$50 million, the Executive has taken a position that the County must address and fund the installation of a sewer system prior to the City pursuing annexation.

According to another memo, this time from the longtime mayoral point person on annexation issues, Kenny Pittman, those issues are primarily in the “Sliver” section of the potential annexation area, where some have septic systems instead of sewer access. Pittman also wrote that King County was told of this two months ago and has not responded. (We’re following up with King County to ask about that.) But Pittman told the council that, independent of the sewer issue, the city was prepared to address public-safety needs in the “Sliver” with SFD responses and SPD patrols, as part of the departments’ work “in the overall South Park neighborhood.”

All this led Councilmember Herbold also to ask about the status of the much-larger proposed annexation of White Center and vicinity (the North Highline area on the map at the top of this story). Her staff was told that whether it moves forward at all will depend on “the position of the new administration” – whoever is elected mayor to succeed Ed Murray. We asked the 14 candidates who were at last Saturday’s Sustainable West Seattle forum at Summer Fest whether they supported annexation; the prevailing answer was, if the residents want to be annexed. That still would require sending a proposal to the area’s 8,600+ voters; the city memo lays out a possible timeline in which City Councilmembers could decide in August 2018 whether to take annexation to North Highline voters in November 2018.

15 Replies to "City's pursuit of South Park-area annexation on hold, pending one big demand"

  • TJ July 21, 2017 (3:57 pm)

    My initial thoughts have been a big “no” to White Center since this has been brought up. Not sure what the payback would be to annex that area from a cost benefit analysis. But now I am starting to think it’s a good idea. Our city council and HALA can up-zone White Center, and take some of the pressure off of West Seattle and the can of sardines feeling they are imposing on us here. I drive down 16th and other streets in White Center, and everything literally looks exactly the same as 30 years ago. Lots of room for growth right there.

  • chemist July 21, 2017 (4:42 pm)

    I was really hoping that the Safeway in White Center would be the convenient place I can buy soda without paying Seattle’s sugary drinks tax and still get some plastic grocery bags.

    • AMD July 21, 2017 (10:33 pm)

      The sugar tax is on the distributors end, not the retailers.  Meaning where the retailer buys the syrup is where it’s taxed, not where you’re buying it.

      • chemist July 22, 2017 (12:20 am)

        Right, so a Safeway in White Center taking shipments of sugar-sweetened beverages won’t pay the tax because the distribution for retail sale occurs in White Center….  unless you’re suggesting distributors just need to incorporate outside Seattle.

        “Distribute” and “distribution” mean the transfer of ownership of, title to, or possession of products, where the recipient of the transfer offers the products for retail sale …..  A distribution takes place where delivery to the recipient occurs.

  • Mark July 21, 2017 (5:52 pm)

    I think White Center should be a part of Burien that is in the Highline School District

    • WSB July 21, 2017 (6:46 pm)

      Voters told Burien no in 2009, and that city subsequently officially canceled the area’s status as a potential annexation area. If Seattle annexation happened, it would stay in the Highline district, unless a completely separate process followed.

      • Question Mark July 25, 2017 (6:43 pm)

        The No vote to Burien was in the 2012 general election …

  • Trouble July 21, 2017 (6:30 pm)

    hell No Stay out of White Center

  • dsa July 22, 2017 (2:04 am)

    Use the 50 million to buy out the 87 residents and forget the sewer.  Instead turn the sliver land into a park.

  • Deb Henne July 22, 2017 (11:15 am)

    We have lived in the silver area for 22plus years and love it.  We have fantastic neighbors and our neighborhood has had sewer for the entire 22years.  There have been talks of annexation since we moved here and the consensus I get from my neighbors is that the vote will be no unless it is required or there is something in it for us.  Our taxes are half of Seattle and there is no real incentive to double our taxes for no apparent benefit.  Whenever the vote comes us we hear scare tactics about how we will be left with no police or fire services, but here we still are.  I don’t know many communities that would willingly choose increasing their taxes. This is a low income neighborhood.  Instead of being treated like the neighborhood that nobody wants it would be nice to have a councilman get to know us and our neighborhood and talk to us like they care about our concerns.

    • Question Mark July 25, 2017 (6:54 pm)

      Seattle’s property tax rate is lower than the tax rate in the sliver. I’m all for people voting their mind, but imagining that the tax rate in Seattle is double the unincorporated area wouldn’t be a sound basis for a decision (my opinion at least) …

      • Taxes July 25, 2017 (7:07 pm)

        Thank you.

        No one’s tax rate is double Seattle’s.  Seattle is about 9.2 right now while the unincorporated area is sitting at 13.6.  The highest in King County is Federal Way at 14.55.  All of those numbers and rates of other areas are available from the County Assessor’s Office if you want to check for yourself.

        I’ll echo what Mark said; you can vote however you want for whatever reasons you want.  But if taxes are a factor, you should look at the real numbers, not the rumor mill.

    • Dagmar Cronn July 26, 2017 (12:19 am)

      We have lived in the sliver for 13 and 10 years, respectively. We also love our neighbors and our neighborhood. But, in 2011, I called 911 for a medical emergency and it took 31 minutes for help to arrive. That is plenty of time to die. In that case, it was 31 minutes of screaming and crying with pain that was not necessary. The SFD would have taken about 4 minutes. We also have had to wait for long periods for sheriff’s office to reply – like 20 minutes – again time to be robbed, shot or killed. 

      And, I have personally seen the analysis of differences in various types of taxes between Seattle and unincorporated King County. Taxes in Seattle are indeed lower. 

      I am disappointed in the new Seattle stance on annexation of the sliver. I consider the City has backed out of commitments to those of us in this tiny area. Like the rest of South Park, the sliver is low income, highly diverse, suffering from worse air, land and water pollution and generally not equitably supported. We deserve not to have to worry about whether police and fire protection will arrive in a timely manner.

      The estimates to install sewers in the sliver aren’t that much compared to the City of Seattle budget. And we all know whoever pays for installation, it will take years to be implemented. In the meantime, we paid for hooking up to the Seattle sewer system ourselves. So I hope the estimates take into consideration those homes that already have sewers.

  • Barbara July 23, 2017 (4:42 pm)

    Actually part of North Highline was    Annexed to Burien 2010 after a yes vote in 2009. The vote to annex the rest of North Highline failed in 2012.

  • WSB July 23, 2017 (6:54 pm)

    Yes, sorry, I cited the wrong year. We covered the 2009 yes vote in “North Highline South” extensively on our White Center site (final results: ) and the 2012 no vote in NH North. – TR

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