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Annexations

What is Annexation?

Annexation is a process by which a municipality expands its boundaries, and thus extends its municipal services, regulations, voting privileges and taxing authority to a new territory. In Washington, annexations are generally limited to areas that are contiguous to its existing border and are located within a city’s designated Urban Growth Area (UGA). The UGA is effectively the area that has been identified for future expansion of a particular city, and thus may not be annexed by a different city. 

 

The tip sheet posted below summarizes pertinent background information about annexations.   

  • Annexations Tip Sheet
  • Annexation Policies

    The City of Tacoma encourages and accommodates annexations of areas within its designated UGA.  There are a number of goals and policies designed to help ensure that public facility and service needs of possible future annexation areas are properly anticipated and accommodated prior to and upon annexation. See One Tacoma Comprehensive Plan, Public Facilities and Services (PFS) Element, Goal PFS-2 and Policies PFS-2.1 through 2.7. Here are two of such provisions: 

    • Goal PFS-2: In partnership with residents, service providers and adjoining jurisdictions, incorporate the City’s Urban Growth Area by 2040. 
    • Policy PFS-2.7: Expand the city’s boundaries within established urban growth areas in a manner that will benefit both the citizens of Tacoma and the citizens of the area to be annexed. 

    Annexation Methods

    There are three common methods by which cities may annex a territory:

    1. Old or Traditional Petition Method – Initiated by a petition from property owners in the area and requires approval from owners of property representing 60% of the assessed value of the proposed annexation area.
    2. New Petition Method – Initiated by a petition from property owners in the area and requires support of property owners representing a majority of the area proposed for annexation and of a majority of the voters in the area.
    3. Election Method – Requires approval of the voters in the proposed annexation area. This is the most common method used for large areas and when an annexation is initiated by the city.  

    Annexation Petition Process

    The typical steps involved in a Petition Annexation process are as follows:

    1. The initiating parties must present to the City Council a notice of their intention to commence annexation proceedings in writing, signed by the owners of not less than 10% in assessed value of the property sought for annexation.
    2. The City Council must set a date within 60 days for a meeting with the initiating parties to determine:
      • If the City will accept the annexation;
      • If the City will require simultaneous adoption of proposed zoning regulations;
      • If the City will require that the area proposed for annexation to assume all or any portion of the existing city indebtedness; and
      • If the City will reject or geographically modify the proposed annexation area.
    3. If the City Council agrees to accept the proposal, then the initiating parties must obtain the signatures of the owners representing the majority of the property and/or the registered voters residing in the annexation area (based on the method chosen), and file the completed petition for annexation with the City.
    4. The City Council then sets a public hearing on the proposed annexation. At the hearing, the City Council may vote to annex the property, subject to the approval by the Pierce County Boundary Review Board.
    5. The City then submits the annexation proposal to the Pierce County Boundary Review Board, which will make a final decision regarding the annexation proposal within 45 days of receiving it.   

    Additional Information

  • Annexations Tip Sheet (by the City of Tacoma)
  • Annexation Handbook (by the Municipal Research and Services Center)  
  • Municipal Research and Services Center (website)
  • Pierce County Boundary Review Board (website)
  • Staff Contact

    Permit Resource Center

    Planning and Development Services Department
    (253) 591-5030

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