Issaquah may take a year to study release of Klahanie
March 23, 2014
By Peter Clark
New: March 23, 2:14 p.m.
Issaquah might still offer annexation to parts of the Klahanie area — and that might take another year.
Both in the March 10 Issaquah City Council work session and the March 11 Land and Shore Committee meeting, exploring the next steps for the Klahanie potential annexation area took center stage. In the Feb. 11 special election in the Klahanie annexation area, only 49.47 percent favored joining Issaquah.
Issaquah City Council President Paul Winterstein identified five options available to the council.
- Do nothing.
- Keep the potential annexation area intact while annexing a portion of it, which would take another vote.
- Pursue an interlocal agreement with King County to annex a part or all of the area.
- Release part of the area, while pursuing annexation of other parts.
- Release the entire area and remove it from the comprehensive plan.
The council spent very little time on the first three and focused on either the fourth or fifth option.
“We could choose to change the boundaries,” Winterstein said. “We could look at the voting results and say ‘You know that southern half the numbers were so good. Let’s change our comprehensive plan and basically release the rest of it.’”
Only the three southern-most precincts — Ranch, Klahanie and Brookshire — voted over 60 percent to join Issaquah.
“For me this issue has always been about numbers, and when I looked at the entirety of the PAA, it did not make sense to my mind,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. Schaer was the only council member to vote consistently against the idea of annexing the whole area. “I believe, based on what I’ve heard so far, the results of this vote and the financial analysis that we’ve done that it is very possible to pursue a small, limited portion annexation of the PAA limited to the Brookshire precinct.”
While the precinct boundaries do not follow the neighborhood borders, they still represent cohesive sections of the area.
“It is a block whose streets are contiguous to each other,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said. “I think the voters of that area made a statement, they definitely wanted to come into the city of Issaquah as the voting showed. I think it’s important to take a look at their desire.”
In the months leading up to the election, political action committee Klahanie Choice began spreading the message that a vote against Issaquah annexation would stand as one for a Sammamish annexation.
“Right now we really feel like it makes sense to go to Sammamish,” Klahanie Choice Chairwoman Kirsten O’Malley said. “We voted as a whole and this measure lost as a whole.”
She worried that the council taking the time to decide what to do, and possibly carving up the area would affect chances for a Sammamish annexation.
“You’re jeopardizing our future,” O’Malley said. “If you start carving up the PAA, at what point do you carve it up enough that Sammamish loses interest?”
Most residents expressed exasperation with has process, which has been studied and explored a number of times over the years. The prospect to divide up the area caused even more negative reactions.
“We just had a democratic election and we’re not abiding by the results,” resident Karen Ditaroff said. “I’m not really sure where the city derives its power to carve up the PAA like this. That was not part of the picture, and I think that’s a real detriment now.”
While the majority of speakers at the two meetings spoke in favor of a complete release for the potential annexation area, Brookshire residents expressed hope that Issaquah would take the fourth option and offer another chance to join the city.
“We want to be in Issaquah. We bring immediate revenue. We bring immediate citizens. This is a quick and easy way to grow by 2,000,” Brookshire Homeowners Association Vice President Mike Foss said.
“If it takes
The City Council’s discussion will continue along with its plans to update the city’s comprehensive plan. Though he did not give a timeline, Winterstein said the “current target” to update the plan was June of 2015. Under state law, cities can only update comprehensive plans once per year.
More than anything, the council expressed the wish to keep collecting information so it can carefully assess the step.
“We have to take the time to do whatever we’re going to do right,” Councilman Tola Marts said. “If it takes us another year, I just need people to understand that they need to believe this council when they say ‘Here’s our priorities” that it’s really what our priorities are,” he said. “It’s really critical that we take our time. This is not a council that moves with unseemly haste and shouldn’t in this case either.”
Many council members expressed a wish to see an update of the study done by Nesbitt Planning and Management that would highlight the cost and benefit of distinct areas. City Administrator Bob Harrison said a revised study would cost between $5,000 and $7,000 and take about three weeks to complete.
“It’s worth a few dollars and a little bit more time,” Barber said in support of an updated study. “I think it’s an important piece to have this information to make this decision.”
The city will investigate releasing part or all of the potential annexation area. The issue may come up again at the council’s March 25 meeting.
“The easiest path for us would have been to do nothing,” Marts said. “We realized as a council we had a responsibility to the PAA. I really ask for patience. We are attempting to do right by the PAA.”