What's Up With That? Vancouver candidate signs bust boundary

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Driving by the intersection of Highway 99 and Northeast 134th Street in Salmon Creek, I couldn’t help but notice giant signs advertising two candidates for … Vancouver City Council? Uh, Vancouver? Really? Are these candidates a little unclear on the location of Vancouver’s city limits? Or are they maybe laying the groundwork for an annexation drive?

-- Happily unaffiliated with the Couv

Plenty of people are noticing the same thing, Happily UnCouvered. And not just at that spot. A spin along the major arteries and even neighborhood streets in Salmon Creek, Felida and Hazel Dell reveals many signs for races in which Salmon Creek, Felida and Hazel Dell residents cannot actually vote.

"I would assume some campaign volunteers are unaware exactly where city limits begin and end. Annexations often leave very irregular borders," said Vancouver City Councilman Bill Turlay, who is running for mayor. And, annexation or no, "Vancouver" is the mailing address for tens of thousands who don't actually live in Vancouver.

So let's review. Roughly speaking, Vancouver's north boundary line follows Fourth Plain east from 162nd Avenue, jags north over the Westfield Vancouver mall, follows state Highway 500 west and then St. Johns Road north to Minnehaha Street, over to I-5, down to Main, back up Columbia to Burnt Bridge Creek and west to Lake Shore Avenue. It's a jagged boundary, but it generally stays well south of 78th Street.

But city boundaries are clearly less significant to our lives these days than freeways.

The site of those giant campaign signs, where Highway 99 meets 134th Street as well 20th Avenue and the two freeways, "is an extremely busy traffic area," Vancouver City Council candidate Frank Decker wrote in an email. "While it is outside of the city limits, voters within the city limits often travel out that way to frequent businesses, restaurants, WSU, and Legacy hospital. It is simply a strategic advertisement placement where a high volume of potential voters pass by all the time."

Galina Burley, also a Vancouver City Council candidate, seconded that. "It's a major intersection and well-traveled by folks going to WSU," she said. "No, I'm not trying to annex anybody."

Burley's signs were glimpsed not only at that super-busy intersection -- we like to call it the traffic hairball at Salmon Creek -- but also facing I-5 from behind the Walmart on Highway 99 and even at a residential corner to the west, off 99th Street. Burley said that corner belongs to a super-committed volunteer.

— Scott Hewitt