Issaquah’s annexation of Klahanie fails; Sammamish may try next
Issaquah’s latest attempt at annexing the affluent Klahanie area has lost by 32 votes, giving Sammamish an opportunity to seek the area instead.
Seattle Times staff reporter
After months of Sammamish and Issaquah urging Klahanie residents to join their respective cities, King County officially certified Tuesday that Issaquah’s latest attempt to annex the area has failed.
The race had been close since ballot counting started in the Feb. 11 special election. But the proposition, which asked Klahanie residents if they wanted to join Issaquah, lost by 32 votes.
Now, after urging Klahanie residents to vote no in that election, Sammamish is hoping to be next to try to annex the affluent area, which has more than 10,000 residents and a median household income of $112,000.
Sammamish Mayor Tom Vance says he hopes there can be an annexation vote as soon as this fall. But the city still has a few hoops to jump through.
First of all, King County-wide planning policies allow only one city at a time to be eligible to annex a particular area, according to county senior policy analyst Karen Wolf. Right now, the only city able to annex the area is Issaquah.
Although Wolf says it’s possible for the Growth Management Planning Council to take that right away from Issaquah and give it to Sammamish , the chances of that happening are low. Sammamish’s chances of taking in the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area (PAA) would be higher if the Issaquah City Council chose to relinquish that city’s right to the area, which Issaquah also tried to annex in 2005.
“We would like to have our good friends in Issaquah do the right thing and release the PAA,” said Vance on Tuesday. “I think it’s clear the voters would like another choice.”
Vance said he’s confident an election asking Klahanie residents if they would like to join Sammamish would not be as close as this month’s election because his city shares borders with most of the area. Klahanie residents stand to pay much less in annual taxes and fees if they join either city.
“I think a lot of the people who voted ‘yes’ just wanted to be in a city,” Vance said. “I think when they get an opportunity to vote, we’ll easily get a majority.”
Issaquah’s spokeswoman, Autumn Monahan, said the city hasn’t yet decided what it will do. She said city staff would study options and bring a conclusion to the Issaquah City Council.
The Growth Management Planning Council’s meeting on Wednesday won’t include any discussion of the Klahanie area. The next time the council will meet is May 21.
Vance said that last year Sammamish offered a plan to split part of the annexation area with Issaquah, but Issaquah refused to discuss it.
The two cities’ intentions to annex the area became more contentious as the election grew near. Until late January, Sammamish threatened to take away a fire station should Klahanie join Issaquah. In the first week of February, Vance went to Olympia to testify in favor of a short-lived Senate bill that would have taken away millions in sales-tax credits that would go to either city should it annex the area.
Mailers supporting an annexation to Issaquah also incorrectly stated that Klahanie Park would shut down if Issaquah did not annex the area. Former Issaquah City Councilmember David Kappler filed a complaint with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission alleging the committee behind those mailers did not report contributions in a timely manner before the election.
The Klahanie PAA Annexation to the City of Issaquah Committee, which Kappler says funded at least three mailers, reported on Feb. 16 to the PDC that it had deposited $4,500 from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2878 on Feb. 11, the day of the election. As of Tuesday, the committee had reported to the PDC that it spent $2,620.94 of $8,072.46 raised.
Committee member Mike Foss said the firefighters paid for the three mailers with a check that came to the committee on Feb. 10. He called Kappler’s accusations a last-minute rock thrown at their campaign.
“We’re disappointed the camp from the other side was a little rough, and I’m being nice about that,” said Foss on Tuesday.
Vance was hopeful that Sammamish would eventually get back on good terms with Issaquah.
“We need to put this behind us,” Vance said.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.