Sammamish looking at other Klahanie options

November 3, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: Nov. 3, 2:14 p.m.

Sammamish is taking steps toward annexing the Klahanie area, in case Issaquah does not.

At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Sammamish City Council voted unanimously to call for Klahanie residents to be able to vote on moving into Sammamish, to include Klahanie in its upcoming Comprehensive Plan Update, and to possibly move efforts to the King County Growth Management Planning Council.

Most of these actions, however, hinge on a planned advisory vote of Klahanie residents.

“All we’re doing is creating parallel tracks,” said City Councilman Ramiro Valderrama.

Klahanie, and a handful of other nearby neighborhoods, is a triangular wedge of unincorporated King County that 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.

Under current standards, only Issaquah has the option to do so. Issaquah has scheduled a vote of Klahanie residents in February 2014 to see if they want to join the city.

The vote at this point will likely only give two options – join Issaquah or not. Sammamish leaders would like to see a third choice of joining Sammamish.

“Issaquah is doing this without letting the people of Klahanie have a say,” said City Councilwoman Nancy Whitten.

If the vote were to say the majority of Klahanie residents want to become part of Issaquah, Sammamish would likely back off its efforts. But if most residents of Klahanie don’t want to be a part of Issaquah, Sammamish could take other steps.

“If a vote should fail, that opens a different set of circumstances,” said Mayor Tom Odell.

Sammamish is prepared to take its case to the Growth Management Planning Council. That group oversees the Countywide Planning Policies, the document which states, among other things, which cities are primed to annex which areas.

The planning council may have the authority to force Issaquah to give up Klahanie.

“If it did go to the (Growth Management Planning Council), Sammamish would have a shot,” said Mayor Tom Odell.

In possible anticipation of adding Klahanie – and to strengthen the possible case before the Growth Management Planning Council – Sammamish also has plans to include the area in the upcoming revision of its comprehensive plan.


Could Sammamish poach Klahanie?

Under state law, it is assumed that all areas inside a county’s urban growth boundary will eventually become part of a city. Most of these areas are part of a city’s – and only one city’s – potential annexation area. Klahanie, and its surrounding neighborhoods, are part of Issaquah’s.

Sammamish wants the area, too. And it might just be theoretically possible for Sammamish to snatch the area away from Issaquah, said Karen Wolf, the King County staff person who works with the King County Growth Management Planning Council.

Under normal circumstances, the city which has an area must first give it up before another city could try to take it.

If, however, Klahanie residents vote that they do not want to become part of Issaquah, then Sammamish might have a case to bring before the Growth Management Planning Council that it should be able to annex the area, instead of Issaquah.

Wolf said it appears the council has the authority to move the area from one city’s annexation area to another, without the consent of the city. However, she was quick to point out that such a move would be unprecedented.

Of course, if Klahanie votes that it would like to become part of Issaquah, then Sammamish would have little force behind their arguments.

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