Local Services Top 10 accomplishments of 2022

In 2022, King County Local Services met challenges and adapted to change to deliver local government services to the unincorporated areas.

As the region and country continued to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Local Services found itself back in the areas it serves. We worked with our communities and took other steps to make sure we could get back to business as usual, at least as much as we could. We were even honored for these efforts throughout the year, including winning national awards.

As our department and the communities we serve in unincorporated King County get ready to start a new year, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the things we accomplished together in 2022.

Residents celebrate the winning projects of the first Participatory Budgeting vote during an announcement ceremony in August.

No. 10: Development of community needs lists

With the help of the community, Local Services developed the first versions of unincorporated King County community needs lists and is now working with community members to develop a better process for the next biennium. These lists are used by departments as one of the many inputs for developing their budgets. For the first time ever, there is a process by which unincorporated area residents can submit their priorities to the county, knowing that those priorities are being reviewed by King County departments.

One of Local Services’ many advertisements used to spread the word about the new fireworks ban in 2022.

No. 9: Fireworks ban

For the first time, the use and sale of consumer fireworks was prohibited in the unincorporated areas of King County in 2022, starting with the July 4th holiday weekend. It marked a big change for some, but Local Services worked to get the word out earlier in the year via its #DontBlowIt #CuttheFuse campaign.

In the ban’s initial year, King County emphasized community education about the new rules and deferred issuing citations for a year. Still, residents could report violators via a new phoneline or online via Code Enforcement’s reporting system.

King County issued warnings to alleged violators and included them in its records. If the behavior continues, these violators will likely be the first to eventually receive monetary citations, and Permitting continues to work on how violators could be cited beginning 2023.

A screenshot of the virtual Town Hall for the Northeast King County/Snoqualmie Valley/Fall City area in March.

No. 8: Virtual Town Halls

King County Local Services delivered local government directly to the unincorporated areas with the return of its popular Community Service Area Town Hall events. Those who attended these virtual events had a chance to prioritize the community requests submitted to Local Services in 2021. The department held nearly a dozen of these virtual events throughout March. Those who attended got to hear from their elected leaders and Director John Taylor about their requests and the community needs lists.

One of several National Night Out celebrations that were funded, at least in part, by the Alan M. Painter Grant Program.

No: 7: Community Engagement Grants

King County awarded more than $100,000 in grants to 45 volunteer-led community events and projects in its unincorporated areas through the Alan M. Painter Grant Program. Community groups in unincorporated King County competed for the grants, which range between $500 and $5,000 each.

Community Engagement Grants support projects that advance the King County Strategic Plan and achieve at least one of the following goals:

  • Promote the engagement of unincorporated area residents in community or civic activities
  • Educate local residents about issues that affect them
  • Implement a community enhancement project
  • Identify and gather community needs and priorities
  • Meet King County’s equity and social justice goals of increasing fairness and opportunity for all people, particularly people of color and those with low incomes and/or limited English proficiency
The core business area of White Center that was damaged by fire in 2021. Local Services helped distribute grant money to 41 of these businesses.

No. 6: Economic Development team helps businesses emerge from pandemic

In 2022, Local Services continued to support businesses of all sizes in the unincorporated areas. Among these efforts:

  • Helped distribute more than $1.2 million in grants to 41 businesses in the White Center Fire Impact Zone that were affected by several fires the prior year
  • Established the “Unincorporated King County Economic Alliance Program” and signed a $4.7 million dollar contract with a community service provider to lead COVID-19 economic recovery for the most impacted residents and businesses in unincorporated King County
  • Launched the Unincorporated King County Business Survey. All businesses were welcome to submit the survey, and we reached out directly to businesses that sought and received business grants, technical assistance, or other support during the pandemic. The department is using those responses to inform services and programs that support businesses in unincorporated King County.
Crews conducted archeological surveys as part of the Fall City Septic Project.

No. 5: Permitting moves forward with new location, diverse service

It was a busy year for the Permitting Division, which enjoyed a number of accomplishments. They included:

  • Reduced building permit wait times for initial review:
    • New homes: from 5 months to 8 weeks
    • Simple remodels: 9 weeks to 1 week 
  • Opened a new office in Renton and began satellite services on Vashon Island and in Fall City; vacated its former office in Snoqualmie, which reduced annual rent by $500,000. 
  • Digitalized all of its paper public records. 
  • Completed Subarea Plan processes for Skyway and White Center (more on that later) and began the same process for the Snoqualmie/NE King County area.
Roads crews installed a new, extra-wide drainage culvert under SE 380th Place off SR 164 near Auburn & the Green River.

No. 4: Through all of the elements, Road Services Division delivers

King County Roads was equally as busy. Among its many accomplishments:

  • Reached substantial completion on needed capital projects, including a sidewalk and bike lane paving project on Renton Avenue S, drainage preservation projects, 15 bridge repair and maintenance projects, school safety projects, guardrail improvements, bridge load ratings, and more
  • Worked through two major winter storms in early 2022, during which crews plowed and/or sanded more than 7,500 lane miles and received more than 1,700 customer service calls
  • Performed maintenance along roadways, including clearing approximately 250,000 pounds of trash and debris, applying 1,900 tons of pothole patching material, and repairing/replacing more than 15,000 signs
  • Helped perform two right-of-way cleanups along Green River Road, during which it collected 118,000 pounds of garbage, debris, and hazardous waste
Subarea Planner Jesse Reynolds coordinated the effort to gather residents’ input for the Skyway Subarea Plan,

No. 3: Skyway/White Center Subarea Plans

A year earlier, Local Services began the subarea plan process for the Skyway-West Hill and North Highline areas. That required getting community members to weigh in on its draft subarea plans, which expressed each community’s vision for the future and established policies to help achieve that vision.

For much of the first half of the year, our planners were engaging communities, seeking input about what they want for their neighborhoods and more. After all of the legwork, staff submitted both plans to the King County Council for its review and potential approval. In December, the Council voted to adopt both plans. 

Our Roads crews and team in Skykomish helped warn residents about the threat of debris flows as a result of the Bolt Creek fire.

No. 2: Bolt Creek fire response

Over the summer, the Bolt Creek fire burned more than 14,000 acres in Snohomish and King Counties, and it threated communities such as Grotto, Baring, and Skykomish. While the fire was bad enough, the burn scar that remained created a potential threat of debris flows and other hazards for residents during the wet months. In October, Local Services staff partnered with other King County departments and organizations to help get the word out about the potential threat. Director Taylor and Government Relations Officer David Daw even helped go door to door in the area to hand out flyers.

Community Budget Investment Committee members from the Fairwood area celebrate the winning projects in the first Participatory Budgeting vote.

No. 1: Participatory Budgeting vote

Although Local Services accomplished plenty this past year, guiding a historic community vote was the biggest story of 2022. After more than a year of creating the framework for the Participatory Budgeting process, King County held its first community driven vote in August.

More than 2,600 ballots were cast – both online and on paper – by community members to select 45 projects that King County will fund. The vote marked the high point of this community-driven journey that began when King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed a budgeting process that would empower the following urban unincorporated areas:

  • East Federal Way 
  • East Renton 
  • Fairwood 
  • Skyway 
  • White Center 

Local Services and its community partner, the Community Investment Budget Committee, established the parameters of the program, collected and evaluated project ideas submitted by community members. More than 60 community members contributed their time and ideas to the process. Each of the areas voted on its own winning projects.

King County even saw the first of the 45 voter-approved projects – $50,000 to acquire property to expand the Cemetery Pond Open Space area – become reality.

Attendees from Skyway celebrate the winning projects in the first Participatory Budgeting vote.
Community Investment Budget Committee members Ayanna Brown and Trenise Rogers celebrate the winning projects in the first Participatory Budgeting vote.