Skip to main content
King County logo

News

King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive proposes reforms for expanded outreach and engagement with residents of unincorporated areas

Summary

All residents of the unincorporated areas of King County would have a single point of contact for County services, with teams of existing staff assigned to work with community groups, under a reform of the public engagement process for the unincorporated areas proposed today by County Executive Dow Constantine.

Story

All residents of the unincorporated areas of King County would have a single point of contact for County services, with teams of existing staff assigned to work with community groups, under a reform of the public engagement process for the unincorporated areas proposed today by County Executive Dow Constantine.

The new framework was requested last fall by the Metropolitan King County Council as part of the adopted budget.

"All residents should be able to have meaningful involvement in the decisions that impact their communities, and that's just as true for those who live in unincorporated areas as those in cities," said Executive Constantine. "This proposal retains the value and expertise of the existing Unincorporated Area Councils while expanding our outreach to all unincorporated area residents."

The Executive's proposal would define Community Service Areas (CSA's) that encompass all of unincorporated King County, including areas without representation by an Unincorporated Area Council (UAC), providing a conduit for greater participation by all residents in an annual work program for each CSA and annual meetings.

Interbranch teams of existing staff from across the spectrum of County programs and services would coordinate public outreach and service delivery in each CSA, in close collaboration with the County Councilmember for that district. Staff would continue working with UACs while expanding outreach to include work with community councils and other organizations.

The proposal preserves the existing Community Service Centers that provide remote access to county services, as well as existing liaison staff for the UAC's who would now serve as a single point of contact for residents.

"The Unincorporated Area Councils have been valued partners over the years, and the creation of Community Service Areas can greatly increase inclusion and diversity across Martin Luther King County," said Council Chair Larry Gossett, whose district includes the communities of Skyway and West Hill. "The challenge may be to do so under the ongoing financial constraints we face."

"Everyone in King County deserves the same access to services and the opportunity to be involved in important decisions that will affect their community regardless of where they live," said Councilmember Julia Patterson, whose district includes the West Hill community near Renton. "In an age of declining resources and the need to do more with less, the Council directed the Executive to reform how we are engaging the public in our unincorporated areas, while ensuring that residents still have a voice. I look forward to learning more about his proposal through the legislative process in the coming weeks."

King County serves as the local government for the 284,000 residents who live in unincorporated areas outside the boundaries of the 39 local cities.

The proposal embraces the goals, objectives and strategies for public engagement of the King County Strategic Plan, particularly the elements that call for expanding opportunities to "seek input, listen and respond to residents" and to "empower people to play an active role in shaping their future."

The Executive met with the current presidents of the six recognized UACs on Feb. 2, and his office hosted three community meetings to get ideas on the proposed reforms.

The proposed framework expands upon and replaces the 1994 Citizen Participation Initiative, which led to the formal recognition by the County of UACs, the creation of Community Service Centers, and the assignment of Community Service Representatives to serve as liaisons between UACs and County government.

Over the coming months, the Executive will work on defining the boundaries of the CSA's, establish guidelines for the interbranch teams, and develop other elements of engagement with the assistance and involvement of the UACs, County Councilmembers, and other stakeholders and community members.

The Executive will send his final proposal to the County Council in September along with his proposed budget for 2012.



Related Information

Unincorporated Area Council Proviso Report (PDF)

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography