Burien and Seattle, who have been fighting for years over which city was going to get to encircle White Center and North Highline into its loving city-limits embrace, have come to an agreement of Biblical proportions: cut the unincorporated area in half.
As with most compromises, it took some coaxing-- and 10 hours of mediation. The solution? Seattle can take everything north of 116th Ave. SW, save for the Rainier Golf and Country Club. Burien gets that and the more affluent neighborhoods to the south. Now that the spoils have been divided, it's anticipated that each city will approve the agreement by year's end so the county-- which is itching to get the unincorporated area off its books-- can take the idea to the legislature.
It will be the third trip to Olympia to ask for the sales tax credit needed to make annexation pencil. (And as part of the truce, both Seattle and Burien would get one.) But the agreement greatly improves Seattle's chances, says senior policy advisor Kenny Pittman. "Last year when we finally got a hearing, the legislature said: 'You folks need to work this out with Burien.' Burien saying 'No, No, No' made it easier [for legislators] not to do anything."
"The unfortunate thing is we got it worked out during a budget crisis," he adds.
The city hopes a provision in the bill to hold off on initiating the sales tax credit until 2011 will make the deal a little easier to swallow.
The two cities' land division proposal is good until 2012, according to the agreement. If the legislature fails to act and the area remains unincorporated after that, the whole chunk of land becomes fair game, again.
Updated: In addition to the Seattle and Burien city councils' expected approval of the annexation plan, residents in the affected areas will also get to vote-- although likely not before the Legislature has its say on the sales tax credit.