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Application planning

Services are available to municipalities, special purpose districts, and all other government agencies planning to submit Notices of Intention to the Boundary Review Board for annexations, de-annexations, incorporations, mergers, assumptions, extensions of service and all other creation of/changes to jurisdictional boundaries.  Citizens and jurisdictions may request APSP to prepare a Notice of Intention that successfully meets statutory requirements and addresses the interests of the community.

The Boundary Review Board offers the Application Planning Services Program to guide local jurisdictions, technical and legal consultants, representatives of County and State governments, citizens, and other stakeholders.  We encourage all agencies to participate in these Services in order to ensure:

  • Compliance with RCW 36.93, RCW 36.70A; SEPA Rules, the King County Comprehensive Plan, as well as various other regional/local statutes and plans  as required for submittal of an NOI to the Boundary Review Board.
  • Compliance with RCW 36.93, RCW 36.70A; SEPA Rules, the King County Comprehensive Plan, as well as various other regional/local statutes and plans  as required for the Boundary Review Board assessment and adjudication of an NOI.

Citizens and jurisdictions may wish to participate in APSP if the affected communities have limited experience/expertise in the planning process for transition of lands to local jurisdictions.  Through APSP, the Board guides citizens and jurisdictions to legal requirements; technical data standards; fiscal standards; public services/infrastructure standards; tools for assessment of a proposed action; benefits and costs data; and procedural guidance necessary for annexations and other actions.

Proponents may also seek APSP to develop strategies to address issues arising from concerns relating to multifaceted, complex, and/or controversial matters such as land designation/use, public facilities/services, government resources, and/or conflicting interests among community members.

The Application Planning Services Program (APSP) supports the Board in the independent administration and adjudication of proposals for creation of or changes to jurisdictional boundaries pursuant to RCW 36.93: Boundary Review Board Act; RCW 36.70A: Growth Management Act; King County Comprehensive Plan/Countywide Planning Policies, and various other state, regional, and local authorities.

Jurisdictions participating in the Application Planning Services Program have generally submitted Notices of Intention which more comprehensively address laws and community interests.  Complete Notices of Intention benefit from support of affected governments and community members.  Such applications are less likely to be contested before the Boundary Review Board.  Resolution of conflict through collaborative efforts – rather than through the invoking of jurisdiction – better meets the King County Regional Services/Local Services Mandates.  Incorporation of lands into local jurisdictions is more easily accomplished.  Resources are conserved by the County and by the Boundary Review Board.  APSP creates good will in the community.  Local communities that participate in APSP benefit from reduced costs for submittal and administration of Notices of Intention.

Application materials and proposal analysis

Boundary Review Board staff is responsible for providing application materials for annexation, incorporation, mergers and other actions. Staff provides a formal Application Planning Service, as well as informal connections, to provide information concerning requirements for annexation, incorporations, mergers and other actions. Staff provides applicants and other interested parties with regulations, guidelines and other standards pursuant to various actions. Related services include:

  • Assistance to determine whether an application is complete and ensures that all applications are submitted for appropriate agency and public review.

  • An initial analysis of proposals for actions is offered. Staff reports upon findings of fact and provides the proposal analysis to the Board.

Legal interpretation

The Board's King County Special Deputy Prosecuting Attorney addresses questions and provides legal interpretations concerning the applicability of general regulations to particular types of proposals.

A group of citizens organizes, recruits supporters and begins to survey the community to determine whether there is general community interest in incorporation.

The citizens' group—working with a King County Staff Technical Review Group—will commission a Governance Options Study. This Study includes data collection and analysis of information needed to determine the level of community interest in incorporation. The Study also determines whether incorporation is feasible. For example, the study examines demographics, community affiliation, service delivery levels and preferences, estimated revenues and operating expenses, etc. The Study is conducted by an independent consultant. King County may fund this Study.

If the Governance Options Study described in Step 2 indicates that there is a substantial interest in incorporation and that incorporation is feasible, then the Committee sets the preliminary boundaries for the incorporation area.

The Committee submits a preliminary Notice of Proposed Incorporation to the County Clerk, accompanied by a $100.00 filing fee. This Notice includes:

  • Proposed boundaries and area
  • Population estimates
  • Information concerning the number of registered voters in proposed incorporation area (and number of petition signatures that will be required)
  • Style of organization of government—code or charter (RCW 35.A)—most King County cities are code cities.
  • Name of proposed city

The King County County Clerk processes the Notice of Proposed Incorporation and transmits it to the Boundary Review Board.

The Boundary Review Board sets up a Public Hearing and provides public notice of this meeting.

At the Public Hearing, the Committee reports on the proposed incorporation. Service providers (e.g., fire district, police, schools) and representatives of surrounding cities (e.g., administrators, public works, public health) may be invited to respond to questions related to the incorporation such as costs of providing service, benefits of various types of governance systems.

Citizens are invited to comment on the proposed incorporation. For example, citizens may comment in support of or opposition to boundaries; new boundaries may be suggested.

Following the public hearing, if the Committee wishes to go forward with the incorporation efforts, then the Committee selects the incorporation area boundaries. The King County Council Clerk will assign an Identification Number to the incorporation proposal petitions.

The King County Elections will assist in setting requirements for the incorporation petition (e.g. number of signators, deadlines, etc). The Committee must administer petitions as set by State law (RCW 35.01 - Municipal Corporations Classified and RCW 35.02 - Incorporation Proceedings).

The Committee may then circulate the petitions. The petitions call for a future election to allow community members to decide if incorporation should occur. The petitions to conduct an election must be signed by ten percent of the registered voters living within the area to be incorporated. The time period for petitions is set by state law.

Within 180 days from the date of the Public Information Hearing the Committee must collect the necessary signatures and submit the petitions to the Boundary Review Board with a Notice of Intention to Incorporate (NOI). The NOI should ideally include:

  • Basic information describing the reasons for incorporation
  • Copies of petitions,
  • Legal descriptions and maps
  • Demographic information
  • Land Use Information
  • Service Information & Analysis (e.g., water, sewer, stormwater, roads, police, fire, schools, parks, libraries)
  • Narrative describing how the incorporation is consistent with:
    • Boundary Review Board criteria (RCW 36.93.180)
    • King County Countywide Plan
    • Growth Management Act
    • Government Planning information (City Manager-Council, etc.)

The Boundary Review Board submits petitions to the King County Elections and the King County Assessor for verification of their validity.

The Boundary Review Board circulates the NOI (and staff analysis of that document) to appropriate King County offices for an initial review and comment period.

The materials are also circulated to other affected governments and agencies - such as surrounding municipalities, water and sewer providers - for initial comment.

An Economic and Fiscal Analysis Study is commissioned to determine the financial viability of the proposed new city. The citizen's group first obtains funding for the study - from the county or from the community. A Committee of the Boundary Review Board, with input from the citizen's group then begins the process of selecting a consultant to provide the analysis

Once a funding source is established, the Boundary Review Board Committee will select an independent consultant to prepare the study. The study typically looks at demographics, and provides several scenarios with respect to community service needs (operating budgets and capital improvements), resources and costs. The study provides conclusions as to the potential viability of an incorporation under the various scenarios. The cost of the study is generally several thousand dollars.

The Study is circulated to affected agencies and parties for review and written comment.

Under RCW 35 and RCW 36, a public hearing is generally required for an incorporation. In King County, all incorporations go to a public hearing. The Boundary Review Board conducts the public hearing. Published and posted notices for a public hearing are provided by the Board.

At the public hearing, the Board takes testimony from all interested parties - the Incorporation Committee, the consultant, citizens who will be affected by the incorporation, King County staff members, and service providers.

The Board considers whether the incorporation is consistent with:

  • Boundary Review Board criteria (RCW 36.93.180)
  • King County Countywide Plan
  • Growth Management Act.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board makes a recommendation on the incorporation.

(Note: For cities proposed to have a population greater than 7,500 people, the Board may recommend in favor of the incorporation, against the incorporation or may recommend changing the incorporation boundaries. The formal boundaries are established by the Committee and the decision is provided by the electorate.

For cities proposed to have fewer than 7,500 citizens, the Board can actually act rather than simply recommend to support or deny the incorporation. Election is optional in this situation.

Following the Board recommendation, the Committee decides whether to continue with the incorporation process. If so, then an election must be held. The election may be held even if the Board recommended against the incorporation.

If the Committee decides to go forward with the election, the Committee works with King County Elections, to prepare the ballot language and to place the issue on a ballot for election by registered voters in the incorporation area.

A majority of "yes" votes is required for approval.

If incorporation is approved, then elections are held to nominate city officials and select city officials. State law sets the time frame for the elections.

The City begins operations - setting up departments, selecting staff members, adopting interim operating regulations, defining immediate, short term and long term policies, objectives and actions, developing and implementing preliminary budgets, etc.


List of Notices of Intention filed from 1968 to present:


Annexations, Mergers, Consolidations, Extensions of Service Outside Corporate Boundaries, and all other actions except Incorporations and Formations:

Incorporations/Formations only:
Board Organization and Rules of Practice and Procedure:
Training Materials
Shelby Miklethun
Executive Secretary
Phone: 206-263-9772
Angélica Velásquez
Project/Program Manager II
Phone: 206-477-0633

Mailing address/Fax no.:

Please use US Mail only for mailed items.

Washington State Boundary Review Board for King County
400 Yesler Way, # 205
Seattle, WA 98104

Fax no. 206-788-8565

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