Opinion

Unincorporated King County: Forced annexation without a vote? | Guest column

By Jerry Galland, resident of unincorporated King County

The governor took away your right to vote, this time on annexation.

This year the governor signed into law ESSB 5808, which lets a city or town pass an ordinance forcing an area to be annexed without a vote of the people in the area.

Before this law, annexation was a community awareness and approval decision. Either a super-majority of the property owners (75 percent) wanted to be annexed or a simple majority of the voters (50 percent plus 1) approved of annexation by ballot. Either way, that was a lot of approval and support by an informed public to result in a major decision.

But on July 25, unless Referendum 72 collects enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, as few as just four people get to decide if annexation occurs. It only takes a majority of the city council to pass an ordinance. In Federal Way, that means only four council members out of seven needs to agree to annexation, and more than 20,000 people will be annexed into the city, against a 66 percent "no" vote from the 2007 election.

If over-riding a "no" vote of 66 percent were not bad enough in itself, how about the phrase "taxation without representation?" Not a single one of those 20,000 people are represented by the very city council wthat initiates and completes the annexation. (read the first paragraph of the May 27 press release from the city).

How can this happen? The King County Council, which already advocates shoving the unincorporated areas into cities, passes its blessing for annexation.

And, this will come as a shock to you, do you recall the fire commissioners elected to manage the South King Fire and Rescue? Well, they also get to decide the issue of annexation for you. Now think back to when they were running for office. Was that what you elected them to do?

ESSB 5808 is the result of a years-long effort by the fire districts across the state to ensure contract language between fire districts gave adequate protections to personnel and assets when annexation occurs.

But while 5808 was in its final stages, and most certainly headed for approval, the Association of Washington Cities quietly added sections that allow annexation without a public vote, changing annexation procedures forever and never again allowing public input or vote.

Referendum 72 leaves intact and unaltered all sections of ESSB 5808 addressing fire district personnel and assets. Referendum 72 only rejects three sections allowing for annexation to occur without a public vote or reducing the requirements for annexation.

Think you are not affected by annexation? Think again! Here is but one example.

Last week, Mirror editor Andy Hobbs wrote about his experience at a local gun range. Check the closing down of Interlake Sporting Association just outside of Redmond. When the city annexes the area into Redmond, the club must shut down because of an ordinance recently passed by the city. This will be a systematic and continuing state-wide trend.

As these businesses are shut down across the state, where do you think firearm safety will be taught and practiced?

You believe that taxes will remain the same? Visit this North Carolina Web site to read about how intrusive, expensive and controlling forced annexation will be in Washington state: www.stopncannexation.com.

I could go on about the changes in taxes, but will let the North Carolina video explain this abuse.

If you live in the city and want a horse, good luck. You must own more than one and a half acres of land. Or you could board an animal on another property, for a fee. And the places that now board horses will be forced out of business when annexed.

Visit www.referendum72.org for more information.

If you believe in the right to vote and want to help get Referendum 72 on the ballot, go to Kinko’s right now, get some petitions, collect signatures across the state and send them back to me by July 22.

Jerry Galland is a resident of unincorporated King County and sponsor of www.referendum72.org. Contact: jerry@referendum72.org

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