Benefits of Annexation

Rapid development and population growth often occurs just beyond the Vancouver city limits because of the limited amount of available land for development within the City. The growth of these areas affects water quality and demand, sewage flows, traffic congestion, and the need for adequate police and fire protection. These issues cross jurisdictional lines (city, county, and special districts), where different standards and levels of service are often required, and can produce a complex system of government by multiple jurisdictions that can lead to administrative confusion, inefficiency, duplication, and excessive costs. Annexation provides a consistent level of standards and urban services and can help preserve a growing urban area as a unified whole.

Annexation ensures that each resident or business pays its fair share of the cost of providing services and that no one group subsidizes another. Currently, property owners in the UGA pay more for some services than those located within the City. Annexation also gives the citizens who use the services a voice in how they are developed and funded. That can only happen when they can vote for the City Council that sets the standards, fees and budgets.

List of Benefits
  • A stronger voice in State and Federal Government
  • Streamlined Permitting Process
  • Twice the number of police officers per resident
  • Neighborhood Safety and Livability Program (Traffic Calming)
    •  Dedication of annual funding and staff assistance to aid neighborhoods in developing neighborhood traffic plans and develop and implement project improvements to respond to neighborhood traffic and livability issues.  Dedicated annual funding equal to roughly $500K per year.
    • Community Development Block Grant
  • Street Lighting
  • - City of Vancouver street standards require street light installation as part of private development on all public streets.
  • - City development standards require full urban standard improvements (sidewalks, bike lanes, streetlights, American Disability Act (ADA) ramps, surface water drainage) on all arterial improvement projects and also all facilities (less bike lanes per plans) on all residential and neighborhood streets.
  • A voice in Land Use Planning
  • Community Programs
  • Neighborhood Programs
  • Dedicated Neighborhood City Liaisons
  • Urban Forestry Program
  • Abandoned Vehicle Program

Several benefits of annexation can't be given a dollar value. Quite a few benefits are designed to improve the 'quality of life'.

  • Your property taxes will go down.
  • The financial impact of annexation to a property owner depends on what services are being received and where the property is located.
  • The differences in your direct costs can be calculated when your property is being considered for annexation.
  • The costs for a property owner located in Clark County or the City of Vancouver are often very similar.
  • The County and City have different funding tools relating to the different services and service levels that they are responsible for providing.
  • Annexation increases a city's size and population, and in some instances raises its level of political influence, prestige, ability to attract desirable commercial and industrial development as well as employment opportunities.
  • Annexation often increases the City's ability to attract grant funding.
  • On January 1, 1997 the Cascade Park annexation added 58,171 new residents and 11,258 acres to the City of Vancouver, making us the fourth largest city in the State of Washington.
  • It is important to keep in mind that our regional population did not increase as a result of the Cascade Park annexation. The 58,171 new residents of Vancouver were already a part of the community; by coming into the City via annexation, they helped give Vancouver a more powerful voice in state government.
  • The jump in Vancouver’s urban population resulted in an increase in our region’s status in Olympia and Washington, DC especially when consideration was being made for important issues such as transportation funding and legislative support for improvements along I-5 and SR-500 and the development of 192nd Avenue.
  • It is interesting to note that if Vancouver annexed all the land within its Urban Growth Area, it would become the second largest city in the state with a population of over 275,000. The City of Seattle is approximately 84 square miles in size, while the City of Vancouver has 100 square miles located in its Urban Growth Area.
  • Cascade Park annexation impacted Vancouver's political influence the most.
  • Residents living in the unincorporated Urban Growth Area often request urban-level services that the County does not provide (for instance sewer, water and neighborhood clean-up programs). According to Washington State statutes (RCW 36.70A.110.4 “In general, cities are the units of local government most appropriate to provide urban governmental services.”) counties are regional and rural service providers; cities are urban service providers.
  • The City of Vancouver currently provides some direct urban services to areas outside the City limits such as sewer, water and fire (through an agreement with Fire District 5).
  • The City of Vancouver provides several indirect services to these areas as well, such as police, parks and roads.  The funding mechanism is not in place to provide other services until annexation occurs.

NOTE: The City of Vancouver provides sewer and water services outside the City limits with the understanding that property owners receiving these services will support annexation when the City of Vancouver is prepared to provide the additional urban services to their area.  This understanding is confirmed in the Utility Service Covenants, which are required to be signed and recorded by the property owner before sewer and/or water service is provided to property located outside the City limits.

To learn more about the City of Vancouver's Annexation policies, read the Comprehensive Plan (2003-2023) Annexation Chapter.