City of SeaTac incorporates on February 28, 1990.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 3/15/2006
  • Essay 7689
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On February 28, 1990, the City of SeaTac, located in King County, officially incorporates.  Approximately 24,000 people reside in the new municipality, which will be run by a city council and a city manager. On March 14, 1989, residents near Sea-Tac International Airport narrowly voted by mail to incorporate as a city to be called SeaTac. Although the ballot specified that the city was to be called Sea-Tac, like the airport, the petition submitted to King County listed the name as SeaTac, without the hyphen. The new city council will affirm the new city's name as SeaTac.

The spectacular growth of air travel brought millions of dollars in commerce to the area around Sea-Tac International Airport. Hotels, parking lots, restaurants, catering companies, and related businesses generated tax revenues that went to King County, but was not necessarily reflected in services such as fire protection and law enforcement. In January 1988, local leaders filed a petition for incorporation signed by 850 voters, 60 percent more than needed to place the matter into consideration.

The City of Des Moines had annexation designs on some of the territory identified as part of the new city of SeaTac. In an agreement with Sea-Tac Citizens for Improved Services and Controlled Taxation, Des Moines removed 80 acres from 280 acres they planned to annex and the Committee dropped 200 acres from its plans. This set S 208th Street as a more natural boundary between the cities.

In November 1988, the King County Boundary Review Board approved the petition, but minus a portion of Pacific Highway S, which incorporation supporters had hoped to include in plans to clean up crime, and minus other neighborhoods which had applied to be annexed to Tukwila, Kent, or Des Moines.

The King County Council ruled that annexation and incorporation votes would be by mail and voters were given until March 14, 1989, to mail in or drop off their ballots. The ballots listed the new city as Sea-Tac. There was no cost savings between mail-in and in-person voting, but officials noted as much as a 20 percent better turnout by mail. The final tally was 2,870 to 2,710 in favor of incorporation. On the same day, Federal Way voters went for incorporation, but Woodinville voters turned the idea down.

SeaTac officially became a city on February 28, 1990, with a celebration involving a student poster contest, a three-and-a-half-foot ice sculpture, the Tyee High School Band, and the Seattle Christian School Choir.

Sources:, the online encyclopedia of Washington State History, "SeaTac -- Thumbnail History" (by Paul Dorpat and Walt Crowley), http// (accessed March 14, 2006); Ross Anderson, "County Tucks 2 New Cities Under Its Belt," The Seattle Times, March 15, p. A-1; Julie Schuster, "City of Sea-Tac Petition Filed," Ibid., January 19, 1988, p. C-3; Himanee Gupta, "Des Moines, Sea-Tac Area Compromise on Annexation," Ibid., July 15, 1988, p. E-3; Himanee Gupta, "Proposed Sea-Tac City Wins, Loses," Ibid., November 30, 1988, p. F-1; Bob Lane and Himanee Gupta, "Incorporation, Annexation Measures To Be On Ballot," Ibid., January 10, 1989, p. C-2; Steve Johnston, "Woodinville Incorporation Failing," Ibid., March 17, 1989, p. B-1; Linda W. Y. Parrish, Michele Matassa Flores, "Celebrate -- The 58,000 Citizens Of Federal Way And The 24,000 Citizens Of Sea-Tac Are Invited To Citywide Parties As The Two Cities Commemorate Their Incorporations," Ibid., February 28, 1990, p. F-3.

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