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Friday, July 14, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Klahanie still unincorporated

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

It looks like Klahanie will remain part of unincorporated King County for the foreseeable future.

Plans for Issaquah to annex the affluent neighborhood have stalled because city officials say they can't afford to shoulder the $17 million cost of improving Issaquah-Fall City Road.

Even a new state law that would give cities that annex 10,000 or more residents an extra portion of state sales tax revenue won't offset the cost, city officials say.

The road project is "too expensive of a pill to buy," said Council President David Kappler. "Right now, we don't have a responsibility to widen the road because the traffic isn't generated by Issaquah residents. But if we annexed it, it would be."

Sammamish, which had also expressed interest in annexing Klahanie, said it, too, won't pursue it unless the road improvements are made.

"Traffic is a mess there," said Council member Kathy Huckabay. "We have joined with Issaquah on this and told the county that if it is interested in moving Klahanie to either one of us, they will have to get the road done."

The proposed project would widen the road from Southeast 48th Street to Klahanie Drive to four lanes and ease morning rush-hour congestion through the busy Sammamish Plateau corridor. The road improvements are imperative, city officials say, because of heavy backups at the intersection of Issaquah's new ninth-grade campus.

King County officials say they won't pay for the road improvements.

"Executive [Ron] Sims has been really clear that we don't have the money," said Elissa Benson, the county's annexation-initiative manager. "If that's what it's going to take for [Issaquah] to move forward, that's really unfortunate for the residents of Klahanie."

This time last year, it looked like Issaquah was on its way to doubling in size.

King County had offered the city a one-time incentive of $850,000 to help offset the costs of absorbing Klahanie, which has more than 11,000 people in single-family homes, apartments and condominiums. Klahanie opened in 1985 and was one of the first master-planned communities in the Northwest.

The county had also offered Issaquah $1.1 million for road improvements. But when the ballot measure went before voters in November, residents approved becoming part of Issaquah but declined taking on their share of the city's debt, a key decision that virtually would have guaranteed the transition. Now, the county money Issaquah was offered is off the table.

In 2004, county officials set up a $10 million fund to alleviate some of the initial financial strain on cities that annex neighborhoods. It was part of the county's drive to implement the state Growth Management Act and shift the burden of providing local services to 218,000 residents in urban unincorporated areas to neighboring cities. The GMA, passed in 1990, says counties should focus on delivering regional and rural services.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said that the council isn't likely to look at the issue again until next year.

"The council said they won't consider it until there's a resolution to the [Issaquah-Fall City] road project," Frisinger said.

Benson said that she's disappointed.

"We're always open to start conversations, but unless there's a breakthrough, we're going to focus on other annexation areas," she said.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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