Saturday, January 09, 2010

Moving to Kent

This past election, Grubb Street and the rest of the surrounding Panther Lake area voted to join the city of Kent. And this morning our new city held an open house in a local school - the school is part of the Kent school district, but the surrounding area only will become Kent by the middle of next year.

They needed to get a bigger boat. The room chosen was woefully undersized for the crowd that showed up at 10 AM. Similarly, the parking lot was packed to the gills. Supplies, and a lot of handouts, were quickly exhausted, and the officials, elected and otherwise, were pretty much overwhelmed. It was a mosh pit of locals in sweaters and seasonal jackets.

I had a sewers question (as in - we have a septic system, do we need to hook up to the newly installed sewers right now?), so I stood near a besieged Public Works rep, who was trying to provide detailed answers for a wide range of questions from new citizens who were wondering how the new deal would change/screw up their present lives. Many had specific questions for their present problems (Neighbor across the street parks in such a way that it makes it hard to get out of the driveway) as well as kinda vague, generally indignant statements (The road network is bad out here, so what are you going to do about it?).

(Oh, and the detailed answer to my specific question is, no, not yet. Unless the septic system fails, or we sell the house and the buyers' lender demands it, or there are enough local septic failures that Soos Creek Water requests it. Like so many other things, it is a bit nuanced).

A big theme was; you as a citizen aren't going to pay as much in taxes, but we as a city don't have a lot of money. The public works department has projects that have been in planning for thirty years. The police would like to establish a full-time station here (and on West Hill) but there's no funding. There was a lot of money talk in the room, usually about how the community doesn't have any.

One woman at the parks table was talking about how they didn't want to annex Panther Lake anyway but King County made them do it. Accurate, but I hope she wasn't part of the "welcome to the neighborhood" committee.

I didn't get the answer to my other question - we're changing cites, are we changing zip codes? It is a post office thing, said one councilman, but another attendee pointed out that they changed zip codes and street numbers when Renton annexed the Highlands, and it screwed up everything from postal service to Google maps. It is one of the niggling, detailed questions that I'm still going to have to dig out to get answered.

But in general, it was a manful attempt by the new city to meet the new neighbors. They have had four earlier annexations, but I get the feeling that this might be bigger than any of their previous attempts.

Oh, and I met one of the Mayor's assistants. Pleasant guy, but he didn't know about the zip codes, either.

And one last thing - I really want to get one of those public works maps. They had the nicest maps in the room. Just saying.

More later,