Common Methods of Annexation

There are five main types of annexation methods: election, direct petition (60%), 50/50 direct petition, annexation of small unincorporated islands, and annexation by interlocal agreement. The following summarizes each annexation method.

Election Method

This method of annexation can be initiated by voters or by the City Council. The City Council can initiate the process by adopting a resolution calling for the annexation by election. Voters can initiate this process by filing a petition only if the petition is signed by not less than 10% of voters in the subject area that voted in the last general election.

Once proposed, the Boundary Review Board (BRB) then reviews the annexation proposal, and returns it to the city with or without modification to the annexation boundaries. The city can either accept or reject the revision. If the city accepts the modification from the Boundary Review Board, then it forwards a resolution to the City Council requesting that the proposed annexation be placed on the ballot. The County Council follows by adopting an ordinance setting the date for an election on the proposed annexation. The annexation is approved by a simple majority of the registered voters.

Direct Petition Method (60%)

This annexation method is initiated by filing a petition signed by owners of the subject site that represent not less 10% of the assessed value. The city responds by accepting, rejecting, or modifying the proposed annexation area. In order to continue the process, a petition must be signed by the owners of the property representing not less than 60% of the assessed valuation of the proposal area. Then, the City Council holds a public hearing and either rejects or accepts the petition. If accepted, the petition is forwarded to the Boundary Review Board, where the annexation area may be modified based on certain criteria. The city may accept or reject the modified annexation. The annexation is finalized by the adoption of an ordinance by the City Council.

50/50 Direct Petition Method

This method is dependent on securing the signatures of land owners and registered voters for initiating the annexation. Once the city is notified by the initiators, it meets with the parties to determine whether the city will accept, reject or modify the proposed annexation. A second petition is then prepared and must be signed by at least 50% of the registered voters in the area, and by the owners of at least 50% of the acreage of the proposed annexation. Following submittal of the petition, the city holds a public hearing and then decides whether to annex.

Annexation of Small Unincorporated Islands

This method is only available to certain cities within Clark, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Pierce counties, that under the Growth Management Act (GMA), are subject to a buildable lands review and evaluation program. This method is only applicable to areas less than 100 acres in size where at least 80% of the area’s boundaries are contiguous with the city or town. A public hearing is held to determine whether to proceed with the proposed annexation. If approved, the city passes an ordinance to annex; however, the proposed annexation is subject to resident referendum via petition.

Annexation by Interlocal Agreement

This method allows for annexation based on agreement between the city and the county. However, the agreement and the annexation itself can be overturned by the residents within the areas proposed for annexation. This method is only applicable to areas that are bordered by at least 60% of one or more cities.

Following a public hearing and approval of the annexation agreement by the city and county, the City Council adopts an ordinance annexing the territory. The ordinance must set an annexation effective date at least 45 days following the date the ordinance is adopted. If, during that 45-day period, a petition is filed with the city which is signed by not less than at least 15% of the registered voters of the area, then an election on the proposed annexation must be held at which at least a simple majority of those persons voting on the matter to approve the annexation.