Annexation in Washington State
Annexation by cities or towns is a legislative action whereby a city or town adds territory beyond its existing city limits. While individual property owners may initiate some annexations, whether to annex territory is ultimately at the discretion of the city or town council. The methods of annexation are set forth in state law. The statutes governing annexations by cities or towns are:
- Ch. 35.13 RCW – Annexation of unincorporated areas for cities of the first and second class, and towns
- Ch. 35A.14 RCW – Annexation by code cities
- Ch. 35.10 RCW – These annexation procedures apply to annexation of one portion of a code or non-code city or of a town to another or to consolidation of two or more cities or towns.
Special purpose district annexations are governed by the statutes authorizing the type of district in question. For example, a Fire Protection District created under RCW Title 52 will annex territory pursuant to procedures set forth at Chapter 52.04 RCW. For links to these authorizing statutes, see the MRSC page: Types of Special Purpose Districts.
MRSC provides many resources, listed below, to help guide local governments through their annexation options and procedural requirements.
Comprehensive Annexation Handbook
Annexation Handbook by Cities and Towns (2020) – This downloadable publication offers an in-depth look at the methods for annexation, the pro and con arguments for annexation, the consequences of annexation, and the role of boundary review boards in the annexation process. This is MRSC’s most complete resource available regarding city and town annexations.
- Annexation Methods by Cities and Towns – Provides a general overview of the various methods of annexing territory available to Washington cities and towns, including information for each method on how annexation is initiated, as well as a collection of sample documents for each annexation type, including application forms, implementing resolutions, and procedure documents.
- Planning for Annexation – Provides an overview of how cities and towns identify and prepare for annexation, including information and examples on the annexation planning process for GMA and non-GMA planning communities, zoning newly annexed territory, information programs used for community outreach and engagement, and tools/studies used to evaluate annexation proposals.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Annexation FAQs – Browse frequently asked questions (FAQs) from local governments regarding Annexation in Washington State.
- Annexation Court Decisions – List of key court decisions on annexation issues affecting Washington local governments, including case summaries.
- The Role of Boundary Review Boards (2006) – This paper provides an overview of the role of boundary review boards in the state of Washington in light of the Growth Management Act (GMA) and the authority of counties that have achieved GMA compliance to disband their boards.
- Blog posts about Annexation – Articles written by MRSC staff and contributors about specific aspects of annexation. Articles are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.