King County Unlikely to Allow Woodinville Annexation in Sammamish Valley

Despite the desire of city council and landowners to annex property in the north end of the Sammamish Valley, county officials say the Urban Growth Boundary will not be moved.


A move by property owners and the city to annex portions of unincorporated Woodinville in the Sammamish Valley into the city limits is not likely to succeed, according to county officials.

The plan to move 17 parcels of land along 140th Place NE, many of which are fully developed (, , ), is in opposition to King County’s Comprehensive Plan, which designates the Sammamish Valley as rural. If the city were to annex those properties, the county would need to move the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

The Comprehensive Plan is currently undergoing a mandated review (). Under revisions proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine, areas in the Sammamish Valley that are unincorporated and designated in the county’s Agricultural Protected District (see map), will remain protected and will not be annexed by the city. Most public testimony so far has favored keeping the property designated as agricultural (read transcripts); more public hearings are planned in the coming month, including one in Woodinville on April 12.

At its March 6 meeting, the city council passed a controversial resolution to send to King County endorsing the annexation. The 5-2 vote, with Mayor Bernie Talmas and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders opposing, became a hot button issue at this week’s council meeting when Talmas was called on the carpet for not signing the resolution (). Talmas said he did not sign because he felt the resolution had factual errors.

Paul Reitenbach, with the Department of Development and Environmental Services and manager of the comprehensive plan, agreed that the resolution seemed flawed, and said that annexation into a city would not be protecting the natural environment of the Sammamish Valley.  

The properties in question are developed and were grandfathered in when the county implemented the state-mandate Growth Management Act. The fact that there are urban uses on many of the parcels is the argument used for annexation.

At a luncheon on March 15 hosted by the Greater Woodinville Chamber of Commerce, Lucy DeYoung, former mayor of Woodinville, spoke in favor of annexation while Mike Tanksley, president of the Hollywood Hill Association, spoke against it. DeYoung, who does not own any of the properties in question, said that because they are already developed with urban uses, it makes sense to annex them into the city. But Tanksley said it is exactly this kind of piecemeal approach to planning that facilitates urban sprawl and dilutes the concentration of development in the downtown core.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents unincorporated Woodinville along with other rural areas, said the UGB is not set in stone, but any changes must be carefully evaluated.

“The line has been moved very little overall since it was set,” Lambert wrote to Patch. “I think this needs a more careful evaluation as to how it would benefit the existing businesses and citizens of the area especially from the safety standpoint of safe drivers on the roads.”

Lambert encourages Woodinville residents to testify at the hearings being held around the county in the coming weeks.

The meeting will be at:

  • FALL CITY –Thursday, March 22
    Chief Kanim Middle School Commons
    32627 SE Redmond Fall City Road
    Fall City, Wa. 98024
  • WOODINVILLE—Thursday, April 12
    The Y at the Carol Edwards Center
    17401 133rd Ave. NE
    Woodinville, Wa. 98072
  • RAVENSDALE—Wednesday, April 25 
    Tahoma Junior High Commons
    25600 Summit Landsburg Road,
    Ravensdale, Wa. 98051

People can also submit written testimony online at www.kingcounty.gov/council and following the link under Hot Topics to the “Comprehensive Plan.”

Public testimony will also be taken at regularly scheduled meetings of the Council's Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee throughout the spring and summer of 2012. These are daytime meetings held the first and third Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. in the Council chambers on the 10th floor of the King County Courthouse in Seattle.

Dale Knapinski March 20, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Why in the world would King County mess with their PERFECT UGB? Because King County needs to figure out how to pay off the bonds for the two BILLION DOLLAR Brightwater project. New construction is going to pay off the bonds, we were told. But there is no new construction. If Woodinville or King County gets away with changing the UGB here, it will only pave the way for it to happen everywhere. If you want to get stuck footing the bill for King County’s huge mistake, sit back and do nothing while the KC big shots find a Woodinville sucker to take over payments on a bill for their error. I’m not willing to pay for Brightwater, and most people in Woodinville are against the idea, too. So why is the Woodinville council signing onto this deal? Just take a look at their political contributors and when you follow the money, it leads directly to the answer.
Dale Knapinski March 21, 2012 at 03:33 AM
EXTRA, EXTRA, read all about it. Les Rubstello said he was sorry to the Mayor! Yep, Les apologized for his behavior last week. Good political choice, Les. Now you should ask for a refund for the money taxpayers spent on teaching council members to behave, because it’s obvious that your learning curve is a flat line. Well, the vote to annex agricultural UGB land still passed 5-2. Nothing changed there. What 5 of our council members don’t seem to understand, is that once the UGB is manipulated in our city, it paves the way for the UGB to be changed everywhere. The problem with that, is the UGB prevents the spread of the dreaded Brightwater forced sewer connection issue. I know, I know, the Woodinville Water District promised we wouldn’t be forced to connect to the sewer to pay for Brightwater. But right after they said that, they passed Resolution 325, which gave them the authority to force connections for ANY reason, and that includes paying for Brightwater. Good night everybody.
Dale Knapinski March 21, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Want to know WHY your council members would vote for annexation of agricultural land into Woodinville's already saturated commercial district? Follow the money. Hank Stecker pegged it right on the head. When council candidates accept huge campaign contributions from developers, their votes are almost guaranteed. Pathetic, but true.
Dale Knapinski March 25, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Can you post the entire letter that Kathy Lambert sent to the Patch, please? Or send me a copy....
Annie Archer (Editor) March 26, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Dale the email exchange between Councilmember Lambert and I was used in its entirety in this story.
Dale Knapinski March 26, 2012 at 02:15 AM
With the exception of a few landowners and some Woodinville council members (And Lucy DeYoung) I can't seem to find much support for Woodinville annexation of agricultural land in the UGB. Who else would have reason to support this cause besides the few that would benefit financially by a rezone of their property? I don't understand why King County council members would split support of this issue along party lines. What logical reason could there be to support Woodinville annexing properties that are so close to the Sammamish River, the Burk-Gilman Trail, salmon spawning beds, and abundant wildlife? The round-a-bouts finally made it safer for traffic and pedestrians, and now Woodinville wants to mess it all up by adding more commercial properties? What about working on the abandoned shopping center just blocks away, the condos on the river that are nearly empty, and all the existing business owners that are having trouble making a living? Let Woodinville fix that stuff first, THEN we can talk about destroying more protected land!
Bauman March 29, 2012 at 06:02 AM
Dale, are you willing to increase density in the downtown corridor to protect R-1 and AG lands as you have stated? If we don't want urban sprawl, then does our City need to create density somewhere? Respectfully, Paulette Bauman
Randy Koetje March 29, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Councilmember Bauman, The downtown master plan certainly encourages increased density downtown, the market will dictate if this occurs or not. The answer should certainly be increased density in the urban growth area as opposed to infringing on rural and agricultural lands. With respect to residential development, I would also answer that the city needs to revisit where and how to increase density in all areas of the city. If some relief is much deservedly given to the R4 and R6 areas, then alternatives for infill in the R1 need to be investigated. The concept that minimum 35,000 sq foot lots is the only option in the R1 to maintain character, protect the environment, etc. needs real scrutiny. We can do better!
Sue R March 29, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I agree with retaining Wellington area at its current density in order to preserve the rural living options. I don't understand the need of a few to destroy something that is nice. There are still plenty of lots available for others to buy an acre and build. If the builder wants more houses per acre then the city should direct the builders to that portion of town already designated for higher densities. There are so many open lots around this town that we shouldn't be worried about running out of space or with meeting our growth planning objectives.
Dale Knapinski March 30, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Paulette: I cordially invite you to take a tour of the proposed annexation areas. I want your undivided attention so you may listen to the Woodinville residents that are OPPOSED to UGB boundary changes and annexation. I do not have a limo, but my Acura MDX seats 7. I expect to have a few additional carloads of citizens following close behind. Pick a day and time. Thank you.
Jodi Getz March 30, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Dear Paulette - I just don't understand your question to Dale. No residential is planned in the Ag Land if it is incorportated. What does incorporating the Ag Land for Commercial Development have to do with protecting R1? - Jodi
Randy Koetje March 30, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Rural living in Wellington and "destroying something nice"...the question is why is it assumed that only 1 acre lots will preserve the area? Why do people assume there are no viable alternatives? Sounds to me that the "few" are existing homeowners in the R1. We need to decide if we are a city or not, and take action accordingly. With respect to plenty of lots in the R4 and R6, just overlay the critical areas map over the zoning map to see what buildable lands are available. Since 2002, lots in the R4 have a median lot size of less than 5,000 sq ft; is that the best we can do for future citizens?
Sue R March 30, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Randy, perhaps the answer to your question about whether people want higher density alternatives in Wellington would be their refusal for higher densities. If higher densities are truly wanted, wouldn't there be swarms of people in that area seeking city permission to subdivide their acres? As I understand from the information provided by the city, there exists at least 15% of the area with lots greater than 1 acre that could be divided and built to 1 house per acre. The same excess exists in most other zoned areas in the city as well. The city has excess capacity for growth in all of the areas under current zoning without rezoning or expanding its boundaries. Sounds to me that developers are licking their chops at the prospect of upzoning all around the city.
Sue R March 30, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Great point Jodi! I agree that the AG annexation is not necessary for the city right now to achieve its growth targets. Someone I met at the council meeting pointed out that there is no need for expanding the city limits for any use right now. There are vacant stores, offices, and warehouses around town and an extensive unfinished piece of land near the wineries. Supplies of land and existing zoning should be sufficient for all future growth. Let's see the need before spending time and energy creating more capacity. I wouldn't want to see our city become a hodge-podge like other cities nearby.
Dale Knapinski March 30, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I wonder if Kathy Lambert is aware that Woodinville residents have voiced nearly no support for annexation. The only support on record at Woodinville City Hall is from landowners of the potential annexation properties. Some of those owners are already under contract to sell their property to developers, but the sale is contingent on annexation AND rezoning that would allow construction of a hotel and/or commercial use. It makes me wonder who is running this city when a local developer hires a consulting firm to assist Woodinville staff with providing documentation and justification for including the UGB boundary adjustment in the 2012 update to the KC Comp Plan. Even more disturbing, is that the same developer made a substantial campaign contribution to one of our current council members. That council member signed on to Resolution #414. Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture?
Dale Knapinski March 30, 2012 at 04:30 AM
I have to agree that the purpose of MOST cities is to grow. Woodinville is NOT one of those cities. Woodinville was founded based on the citizens intent to keep the "City living, country style" atmosphere. If you want massive development, 60' building heights, traffic, comercial expansion and continual annexation, go to Lynnwood, Redmond, or Kirkland. Most candidates for the Woodinville council vowed to stick to the plan of Woodinville's founders. A few are now bowing to pressure based on campaign contributions and greed. We need to get back to our roots, and weed out the council members that strayed from their promises so we can get back to the country style of living.
Randy Koetje March 31, 2012 at 05:43 AM
To Sue and Dale, With all due respect, the loudest voice in the room doesn't always have the best idea. I wish we as a city would pursue alternatives to just multifamily downtown to provide new homes for future residents. Using Sue's numbers above I calculate we are about 1000 homes short. Seems that the theme of no growth in Woodinville is the prevailing thought. Nothing is being built, either downtown or in the neighborhoods. I'd be real interested to hear how our city council would respond to that. I never considered no growth as a part of the "country style" motto. My understanding of country style is how we treat one another.
Sue R March 31, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Randy, I never said "no growth", but did say that we have enough land zoned to accept more growth that we were allotted in all areas of the city. If you have 2 acres in the R1 then you may request the city to consider adding another house to be built on the acre adjacent to your home. It is very simple. The city is not maxed out at its current zoning and has ample room to grow in all areas. Look at the downtown vacancies left behind by QFC and the open storefronts for commercial. Look at the master plan for Canterbury to add high density, much needed affordable housing. Look at the Western area stables for already approved R4 housing. We do not need to grow the limits in any area and we certainly do not need to proliferate construction in the agricultural areas. I am not an expert, but I am a person who understands reality of supply and demand. Woodinville has plenty of supply and the demand for construction is weak at this time, but it is not the city's job to create demand at the cost and demise of existing area businesses and residents. My voice will grow louder if people expect to trample over a well planned community and trample over the very designs that make this a unique city.
Dale Knapinski March 31, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Paulette: Woodinville residents have not been opposed to increasing residential density downtown in order to protect the R-1. Our GMA requirements don't need to be filled for many, many, years. There is no rush to fill the temporary demand for cheap housing created by the economy. Replacing the mobile home park with a mix of affordable and higher end housing to accommodate SOME of our GMA requirements makes perfect sense. Why do we need an increase in residential density in the downtown now? Most of our mandated units will be accomplished with one development, and we have many years to add appropriate housing as our city developes over the years during a "Normal" economy. Cheap rental units may be popular now, but 5 years from now we may be sorry we have them. People in the R-1 have a legitimate fear of forced sewer connections costing a significant amount of money. ANY development in the Wellington area could set residents up for the Woodinville Water District moving forward with provisions in Resolution 3725 that allowes forced sewer connections for essentially any reason. It isn't just a matter of residents wanting to keep their large lots and country atmosphere, you know. Annexation of properties outside of the UGB will have no effect on residential housing because the affected properties will not be zoned residential, and if they WERE, I may support the annexation effort.
Dale Knapinski March 31, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Development brings SEWERS. In the R-1, even a 35,000 sq. ft. lot will support an on-site septic system so I'm OK with that. Short subdivisions of more than 4 lots and lots smaller than 35,000 sq. ft. will bring sewers to within 300 feet of adjacent lots where the owner does NOT want to be forced to connect. Last summer, the Woodinville Water District adopted Resolution #3725 which gives the District the sole authority and right to FORCE connection if they feel it's in the public interest. Increased density in Wellington would bring more traffic, noise, and change to the character of the neighborhood. Some people don't want to see this happen. My personal objection to messing with the R-1 is the fear of being forced to abandon my septic system in favor of supporting Brightwater. I'm dead set on keeping my house as far away from sewers as possible, and if that means fighting against any increase in residential units in Wellington, so be it.
Ron Olson April 03, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Do we need to adjust the UGB in order to provide medical buildings in Woodinville? Don't we have plenty of available space in the CBD already? Why couldn't we annex a different area for medical buildings if there is a shortage of space? I can see why the city might want to annex the 3 properties near the Woodinville schoolhouse, but I don't really see a need for that, either. There is plenty of vacant space available for tourist activities.


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