Lake Stevens to add more than 10,000 through annexation

LAKE STEVENS — It might not be obvious to more than 10,000 people on Thursday that they’re living in a different place than they were the day before.

Their homes and streets will look the same. Their mailing addresses, however, won’t be.

Their addresses will be Lake Stevens instead of Everett. They’ll be in a city rather than an unincorporated part of Snohomish County.

Their neighborhoods — 9 square miles of them — south of Frontier Village and between the lake, Highway 204 and south of 20th Street SE become part of Lake Stevens at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31.

The people who live there not only will be in a city but they’ll help make it the fifth largest in Snohomish County. At 14,553, Lake Stevens currently ranks 11th. With the annexation, it will jump to fifth, at 24,614.

Lake Stevens will leapfrog past Arlington, Monroe, the Snohomish County chunk of Bothell that straddles the county line, Mill Creek, Mukilteo and Mountlake Terrace.

It will sit behind only Everett, Marysville, Edmonds and Lynnwood in the county.

To make sure of the numbers, census takers are canvassing the area to get an accurate count. State law requires a city to take an official head count of any area newly added to its borders.

The firm Calm River of Gig Harbor is doing the census, city administrator Jan Berg said. They’re wearing orange vests and identification badges. The questions go quickly, information is kept confidential and anyone who’s not home will be left with information so they can respond later by phone, Berg said. The count is expected to be finished by Jan. 31.

The same firm is doing a count in a newly annexed area of Marysville, which joined the city today.

Another visible, more permanent sign of the change will be a difference in police presence. Lake Stevens police will begin patrols of the area Thursday, replacing the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

At first the city police department plans to cover the area with officers working overtime, Chief Randy Celori said. One or two officers will patrol the area on each shift, depending on the time of day, he said.

The department is in the process of hiring and by summertime expects to have 12 new officers hired, in addition to the 22 on the force today. In addition, the department plans to add to its traffic enforcement, special investigations and detectives units, he said.

It’s not the first time the Lake Stevens police department has had to deal with a large addition to the city. The city added Frontier Village at the beginning of 2007, which posed a different kind of challenge for police because of its large commercial area, which was new for the city, Celori said. The area joining the city Thursday is mostly residential.

Lake Stevens officers have already been cruising through the area to get to know the terrain, the chief said.

By springtime, “our overtime will be drastically reduced,” Celori said.

The city also will take over street maintenance in the area and is hiring three new public works employees, Berg said.

The mailing address change from Everett to Lake Stevens presents another noticeable, permanent difference. Residents should notify anyone from whom they expect to receive mail of the change.

The post office will forward mail for the following 12 months after the ZIP code change has occurred. That change is scheduled to occur in July.

For people with pets, the city will provide free license tags for dogs and cats for the first 60 days, Berg said. After that, the cost is $20 for a lifetime tag. Also, anyone in the annexation area who gets a new pet can get free tags if they do it within 60 days.

Land-use planning and development, business licenses and code enforcement are among the other services that will switch from being provided by the county to the city. The city is mailing “Welcome to the city of Lake Stevens” fliers to people who live in the area.

“I feel very confident that we’re going to be ready to take on the area, and we’re very excited,” Berg said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

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