What is annexation?

Annexation is the procedure for bringing unincorporated areas of a county into an adjacent incorporated city. The most common form of annexation is the “petition method”, whereby property owners (or residents) of the area sign a petition asking to become part of the City. If an area is annexed, the City becomes the primary provider of local government services.

Who is eligible for annexation?

In order to be eligible for annexation, the subject property must be located within the City’s Urban Growth Area.

What is the procedure for annexation?

Washington State law governs the annexation procedures. The most frequently used method of annexation is the petition which begins with petitioners submitting a Notice of Intent to Annex that represents either
     a) not less than 10% of the residents of the area to be annexed, or
     b) the owners of not less than 10% in value, according to the assessed valuation.

If the City Council determines that the proposed annexation is in the public interest, it may “initiate” a public process to analyze the annexation proposal. In which case, the proponents must use the official petition forms to collect the signatures of property owners that represent not less than 60% of the total assessed valuation of the acreage in the area requested for annexation.

At the conclusion of the public process, the City Council votes to approve or deny the annexation. There is no guarantee of success for simply filing a petition and application for annexation to the City.  

Bellingham’s Annexation Strategy

The Annexation Strategy is a reference document and a roadmap to facilitating decisions regarding annexation and UGA boundaries. It is to be used by City staff, utility and other service providers, as well as the City Council to gain a thorough understanding of the implications of annexations.  

Bellingham’s Annexation History



Planning & Community Development