A case against annexation: Kirkland would double its size, lose sense of community and endure high crime rates

To the editor:

In response to your April front page article on the Kirkland annexation, I would like to thank you for your even-handed coverage, and take this opportunity to introduce you to SaveKirkland.com - an organized group of concerned citizens in opposition to the annexation.

A new $44 million public safety building including a jail with 75 beds for inmates is planned. In which neighborhood is a new jail going to be located? Bellevue has no jail and farms out its criminals to Issaquah and King County. Kirkland would become the holding pen for the Eastside's criminals.

In one fell swoop, Kirkland would double in size, bringing its population to 81,000, a similar size as Bellevue, Federal Way and Kent. Kirkland is a small town more in the mold of a Redmond or Woodinville. Kirkland will forever lose the sense of community it has now.

Along with being a big city will come the associated higher crime rates and diminished representation on the city council. Higher property taxes and higher business taxes as the long-term financial projections (attempting to guess what will happen in 2015 or 2020) are circumspect at best.

Annexation would not help solve Kirkland's current fiscal problems and would only serve to distract the council from dealing with pressing issues. During Phase I of the annexation process, Kirkland hosted several community outreach meetings to gauge the level of interest from the citizens of Kirkland. These meetings were for the citizens of Kirkland, however individuals from the PAA outnumbered citizens of Kirkland sometimes by a factor of four to one.

The council seemed to not distinguish between Kirkland citizen and PAA resident, thus the will of Kirkland's citizens was not conveyed. Those in attendance who were in favor of annexation were overwhelmingly from the PAA and those opposed were Kirkland citizens.

Phase II is an outreach to the PAA and the council no longer plans to gather the views of Kirkland citizens. The council has not solicited a poll of the citizens of Kirkland on annexation. It has done so for the PAA. Why would they not want to know the views of Kirkland citizens? Perhaps it is because the citizens of Kirkland do not get to vote on this issue, and the PAA does. Kirkland citizens should have a vote as to whether their town will double in size and forever change in character.

Who is pushing the annexation issue? It is certainly not the citizens of Kirkland. The state and King County are forcing the annexation issue and our council is engaged in this process because of outside pressures. There is no groundswell of public support from the people of Kirkland.

One question repeatedly asked at the annexation meetings has been: "What are the benefits of annexation to the citizens of Kirkland?"

The only answer the city can come up with is that there is a sense that the PAA already is a part of Kirkland and that it is only fair to annex those areas and that Kirkland may have a greater say on regional issues. There are no benefits to the citizens of Kirkland and only HUGE risk involved with this ill-begotten plan.

The Kirkland City Council needs to know that those citizens whom they represent are opposed to this annexation. The council has recently decided to proceed to Phase II of the plan. City departments have requested over $1.7 million dollars for this purpose. How many millions of our tax dollars has the city spent on annexation to date?

How much more will they spend before we can put a stop to this folly?

Rob Butcher
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