De-Annexation of Property from a City – How Does That Happen?

Every once in a while we get asked how property may be “de-annexed” – removed from city boundaries. Whenever I’m asked this question, I say in my response that it rarely occurs. It’s a lot easier in Washington State for property to get annexed to a city than it is for the opposite to occur. This post discusses why that is the case. Continue reading

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The Case for Asset Management in Public Works

Tacoma's Murray Morgan Bridge, courtesy of Scott Hingst.

Tacoma’s Murray Morgan Bridge, courtesy of Scott Hingst.

This is a guest post from Toby Rickman, 2014 APWA-WA President, and Deputy Director of Public Works for Pierce County.  This post is adapted from an article in APWA-WA’s latest issue of PUBLICworks Magazine.

We all know that advanced societies are built on the foundation of modern infrastructure. Our communities rely on infrastructure more than ever to maintain their quality of life, allow us to get around, and support economic development and job creation. We inherited a legacy of excellent infrastructure from previous generations who were willing to invest in their community.

But infrastructure in Washington State continues to deteriorate as communities vote down transportation packages and other infrastructure proposals. Infrastructure like the interstate system, which was built after World War II, is reaching the end of its lifecycle. Bridges are aging and we don’t have the resources to replace them all. Water and sewer systems are getting older and many have not saved the money to replace the pipes and pumps. The 2013 ASCE Report Card for America’s Infrastructure indicated that the United States needs to invest $3.6 trillion in our infrastructure to restore it – that’s $11,400 per person.

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Posted in Finance, Management, Public Works | 1 Comment

Yakima’s Election System Deemed in Violation of Voting Rights Act

Voting courtesy of thomas.

Voting courtesy of thomas.

A federal district court judge recently ruled that the City of Yakima’s city council election system violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §1973.  Observing that no Latino has ever been elected to the city council in the 37-year history of the current system of electing city councilmembers, despite Latinos making up a third of the city’s voting-age population, the court concluded that Yakima’s city council election system violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the Latino community vote and blocking representation by Latinos. Continue reading

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Two Newly Updated Webpages Put Planning Reference Information at Your Fingertips

GIS Overlay Map, San Bernardino County, CA

GIS Overlay Map, San Bernardino County, CA

As the “comprehensive” part of “comprehensive planning” implies, planning involves addressing a wide array of interrelated community needs including housing, transportation, parks, public places, environmental protection, community and economic development, and the infrastructure to support them. The needs and aspirations for various community goods are ever-evolving. So those engaged in planning must have at least a working understanding of a variety of subjects. They must also be able communicate, and preferably illustrate, complex concepts.  Survival as a planner requires the ability to become quickly conversant on new issues and tools. That requires quick access to relevant resources. Continue reading

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Superior Court Decision on Fife Pot Ban

On Friday, August 29th, the Pierce County Superior Court issued an oral ruling, after the attorneys made their arguments, that the City of Fife has the authority to ban all  marijuana businesses. In essence, the judge agreed with the basic analysis given by the Attorney General in AGO 2014 No. 2 in January. Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Recreational/Medical Marijuana | 2 Comments

MRSC Rosters: Thriving Model of Consolidating Services – Upcoming Webinar

PrintMRSC Rosters continues to be a successful model of the consolidated service approach where multiple public agencies coordinate their resources through a standardized system. MRSC recognized that most Washington local governments have the option to use an expedited roster contracting process for small projects, but many have been unnecessarily prevented from using rosters due to the administrative costs of maintaining business applications. In response, MRSC created the MRSC Rosters service in 2007 to provide a shared database tool that eliminates the redundancies of public agencies processing identical applications and offers a broader pool of competitive bidders due to the convenient online business registration. Continue reading

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New Court Decision Clarifies Vested Rights Doctrine

In Potala Village Kirkland, LLC v. City of Kirkland (August 25, 2014), Division I of the state court of appeals issued a significant decision regarding the vested rights doctrine. The court held that the doctrine is entirely statutory, with the statutory doctrine replacing, rather than supplementing, the common law (court-made) vested rights doctrine. In the first sentence of its opinion, the court states: “Washington’s vested rights doctrine originated at common law but is now statutory.”

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