Auburn to annex Bridges neighborhood from Kent

On Dec. 4, the Auburn City Council voted unanimously to annex the Bridges community from Kent.

That action removed annexation from the city council’s hands and placed it in the hands of the clock, and when time ticks down to 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 2024, the annexation becomes official — and Auburn grows in an instant by 386 homes.

Both cities — Auburn and Kent — and the communities involved have approved the annexation.

The City of Kent annexed the Bridges area in 1987, about 21 years before Auburn’s annexation of Lea Hill. Prior to the latter action, the Bridges was just a portion of Kent that was not contiguous to that city’s boundaries. But when Auburn took Lea Hill under its wing, it made the Bridges area an island of Kent entirely surrounded by Auburn.

Seeing to it that all of the gears meshed on the annexation has been the goal of many people in recent years, and the subject of numerous discussions between the cities.

“A lot of people have done a lot of work … [over] a lot of years to get to this night,” said Jeff Tate, director of community development for the city of Auburn. “There are a lot of moving parts.”

On Sept. 18, the Auburn City Council authorized city staff to file a notice of annexation with the Boundary Review Board for King County. That resolution, “an initiating action,” set the complex process into motion, requiring not only annexation of the Bridges neighborhood into Auburn, but its de-annexation from Kent.

Typically, annexation brings unincorporated land into a city. Here, both cities had to submit applications to the King County Boundary Review Board — Kent for de-annexation, and Auburn for annexation.

In August 2022, Kent and Auburn staff attended the Bridges National Night Out event to help answer questions and to encourage residents to take part in a survey tooled to help both cities understand how residents of the community felt about annexation. With 144 individual surveys completed, the results indicated that about 70% of the residents either supported the annexation into Auburn or were indifferent.

In November 2022, the Bridges Homeowners Association voted unanimously in favor of the annexation.

The Boundary Review Board application gave agencies a chance to participate and/or voice concern over annexations. For example, this particular annexation will result in a taxing district and service shift away from the Puget Sound Fire Authority to the Valley Regional Fire Authority. The PSFA will lose some revenue, and VRFA will gain some revenue to meet the added demand. There were no agency objections.

The Boundary Review Board process also ensures that the King County Assessor is aware of the change and can adjust tax rates in the affected area. Likewise, it ensures that King County Elections is equipped to modify voting districts to reflect the change.

City of Auburn staff have been working on the development of comprehensive plan and zoning amendments in preparation for annexation so that there will be land use controls in place when annexation occurs. Comprehensive plan and zoning amendments are included in the 2023 Auburn Comprehensive Plan’s annual docket of amendments that the Planning Commission studied and recently approved.

An interlocal agreement between the two cities addressed some of the mechanics of the change, including the transferring of official records.

Deputy mayor

In other city council action Dec. 4, the council voted to name Larry Brown as deputy mayor, besting Yolanda Trout-Manuel in a 5-2 vote.