City Backs Down On Annexing Single Home -- Bellevue Council Rules Gerrymandering For Volunteer Is Unfair
Seattle Times Eastside Bureau
It's not that the City Council didn't want Van-Rex Gallard in Bellevue.
In the end, council members just figured it was unfair to annex a single home so that he could serve on the Bellevue Convention Center's board of directors.
For Councilman Chuck Mosher, the whole thing had an unsavory appearance of favoritism.
The council voted 6-0 last night not to annex Gallard's home on Southeast 145th Place.
The proposal had drawn criticism as a waste of city time and money, even if the reason behind it was understandable.
Gallard requested the annexation last fall after learning that his new house was not in Bellevue - even though it had a Bellevue address - but in an island of unincorporated King County surrounded by the city.
Because Bellevue requires members of most boards and commissions to live inside city limits, Gallard was required to give up his volunteer position on the group that oversees Meydenbauer Center.
Although the city has annexed single homes at least five times in the past decade, the council decided last night that it might be time to change the policy.
"It is best to annex blocks and sections to the city," said Councilwoman Margot Blacker. "I don't go for one house at a time."
Annexations usually take four to six months, require footwork by city staffers and cause every city department to redraw its maps.
In Gallard's case, his neighbors in the 100-home Horizon View
subdivision started an annexation drive, but it is now stalled.
The council had a chance in January to stop the Gallard annexation but didn't. And Mayor Ron Smith apologized last night.
"The hour was probably late when it did come forward," he said, "and it would have saved us staff time and money if we caught it early."
Council members took pains to thank Gallard for his seven years of service on the convention-center board. It was that experience that led board Chairman Bob Wallace and City Manager Steve Bauer to support the annexation in the first place.
Gallard did not attend last night's meeting.
All the same, he said last week, if the city doesn't want him, he will find other places to volunteer his time.
"I will be in a sense hurt that I won't have the relationship I have had in Bellevue," he said. "But what can I tell you? I will not fight it."
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