With its narrow, winding tree-lined streets, nests of cul-de-sacs and confusing street names (there’s a 107th Avenue Southwest and 107th Street Southwest a short distance apart), it’s easy to get lost in the Arrowhead neighborhood.
“We call it The Maze,” said Daniel Sevin, standing in front of the split-level house that he’s lived in for 40 years.
City living still hasn’t found residents here or in the nearby Partridge Glen neighborhood, which are both surrounded by Steilacoom and Lakewood but have remained part of unincorporated Pierce County.
But that may be changing. Lakewood has expressed an interest to Pierce County in annexing these areas more than a decade after neighbors rejected attempts to join either city.
Lakewood city officials are preparing a report that examines how much annexation would cost the city and residents in these two neighborhoods. Once the report is completed, the city plans to hold a community meeting to discuss its findings and next steps. One of the City Council’s priorities is to deal with unincorporated areas within Lakewood’s urban growth area.
“It’s really the right thing to do for Lakewood to step up, and we are in a better position to provide service in the area,” City Manager Andrew Neiditz said.
He said circumstances have changed in Lakewood since the last time annexation of these areas went to a vote, notably the start of the city’s own police department in 2004. Although the numbers are still been pencilled out, he didn’t expect residents there to see a tax increase by annexing into Lakewood.
The City Council can pass a resolution to annex the unincorporated area, leading to an election. Owners of at least 60 percent of the property value in the area also can petition the city to be annexed.
Pierce County realized having pockets of county-managed areas in the midst of urbanized west Pierce County doesn’t make a lot of sense. Law enforcement is the major service residents out here receive from Pierce County, but deputies’ response time for non-emergency calls are lengthy because they respond from South Hill. In emergencies, it requests nearby city police department go out to ensure rapid response.
“We’ve just got to get smarter about those kind of service areas,” Deputy County Executive Kevin Phelps said.
The county also is in talks with Tacoma about annexing a small area at the intersection of Hosmer and 84th streets. And there’s been discussions about approaching Fircrest about a pocket of land along its southern edge.
The county had approached Steilacoom about annexing Arrowhead and Partridge Glen, but Mayor Ron Lucas said in an interview the town has no plans to grow by that much.
Voters turned down two effort to join Steilacoom in 1995 and 1996 and then turned down a bid to join Lakewood the following year.
The idea was briefly resurrected five years ago when Pierce County Councilman Dick Muri held a community meeting and attendees expressed an interest in annexing into Steilacoom.
Sevin, who was involved in the effort to annex into Lakewood, said it was simply impossible following the trio of elections to find popular support for annexation when the three factions — those who wanted to join Lakewood, those for Steilacoom and those for staying with Pierce County — were dug into their positions. The situation, he said, was “unwinnable.”
Sevin, an 81-year-old retired Air Force aircraft maintenance officer, said he still supports an annexation to Lakewood but has no idea what would happen in an election. Most of the residents involved in the prior efforts have died, are in poor health or moved.
He said annexation appears to be inevitable.
“We got to go somewhere eventually.”