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New Department of Local Service formed to serve King County’s unincorporated areas

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Unincorporated areas of King County, where a quarter-million people live, are the intended beneficiaries of a new department County Executive Dow Constantine proposed earlier this year.

Starting January 1, 2019, the new Department of Local Services will be tasked with improving the delivery of services in rural areas as well as the major remaining urban unincorporated communities. In announcing plans for the new entity, Constantine proposed combining the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review with various other County functions. They could include:

  • Road Services and Airport Divisions of the Department of Transportation
  • Community Service Area program of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks
  • On-site Septic System and Plumbing & Gas Piping programs from the Environmental Health Division of Public Health — Seattle & King County

Harold Taniguchi, director of the King County Department of Transportation, was appointed to manage the transition to the new organization. The eventual leader will be part of the Executive’s Cabinet, reporting directly to the Executive.

Taken together, Unincorporated King County would be the second-largest city in the state. Among areas it encompasses are Redmond Ridge, East Federal Way, Fairwood and East Renton, North Highline, Skyway, White Center, and West Hill.

In the announcement about plans to form the Department of Local Services, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert was enthusiastic in endorsing the proposal. “I am excited, eager, and proud to see the Executive respond to residents in the unincorporated areas and reform how we deliver the services they need and deserve,” she stated. Her district serves a wide swath or urban and rural northeast King County.

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