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AGO 1963 No. 8 - January 30, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- ANNEXATION ‑- AUTHORITY OF CITY COUNCIL TO PETITION CITY COUNCIL FOR ANNEXATION OF REAL PROPERTY OWNED BY CITY WITHOUT BUT CONTIGUOUS TO CITY LIMITS.

A city which owns real property located without but contiguous to the city limits may not petition, as a property owner, for annexation of such property to the city under RCW 35.13.130.

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                                                                 January 30, 1963

Honorable Donald H. Webster
Director, Bureau of Governmental
Research and Services
266 J. Allen Smith Hall
University of Washington
Seattle 5, Washington

                                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 8

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Under the provisions of RCW 35.13.130, may a city which owns real property located without but contiguous to the city limits, as a property owner, petition for annexation of the area of its property ownership?

            We answer your question in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 35.13.130 provides as follows:

            "A petition for annexation of an area contiguous to a city or town may be made in writing addressed to and filed with the legislative body of the municipality to which annexation is desired.  It must be signed by the owners of not less than seventy-five percent in value, according to the assessed valuation for general  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] taxation of the property for which annexation is petitioned, shall set forth a description of the property according to government legal subdivisions or legal plats and shall be accompanied by a plat which outlines the boundaries of the property sought to be annexed. . . ."

            In AGO 61-62 No. 4, dated January 24, 1961, a copy of which is herein enclosed, this office advised that where the real property of a municipal corporation is tax exempt (as provided for in Amendment 14 to the Washington Constitution and in RCW 84.36.010) the municipal corporation does not qualify as a property owner under RCW 35.13.130, supra, and, accordingly, is not entitled to sign a petition for annexation thereunder.

            At about the same time as AGO 61-62 No. 4, supra, was issued, the Washington supreme court handed down its decision inParosa v. Tacoma, 57 Wn. (2d) 409, 357 P. (2d) 873 (1960).  Among the questions raised in that case was whether the Port of Tacoma (without question a municipal corporation owning tax exempt real property) was authorized to petition for annexation of an area including its property to the city of Tacoma.  This question was summarily disposed of by the court, at page 417, as follows:

            "Appellant's argument that the Port of Tacoma has no authority to petition the city for annexation of its own property is without merit.  RCW chapter 53.08 [[chapter 53.08 RCW]]endows such districts with power to own land, one of the attributes of which is the right to petition for annexation by a city.  RCW 35.13.130."

            In view of this decision of the Washington supreme court, we can only conclude that the law in this state is that a municipal corporation, even though its real property may be tax exempt, is entitled to sign an annexation petition under RCW 35.13.130, supra.

            Accordingly, so much of AGO 61-62 No. 4, supra, as concludes that a municipal corporation owning tax exempt property is not entitled (under the provisions of RCW 35.13.130,supra) to petition for annexation should be, and is hereby, overruled.

            However, from the proposition that a municipal corporation, even though its property is tax exempt, is entitled as a property owner to petition for annexation under RCW 35.13.130, supra, it does not necessarily follow that a city owning real property without but contiguous  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] to its own city limits may petition itself (under RCW 35.13.130, supra) for annexation of the area encompassing such property.  A petition as defined in Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Ed. p. 1302, is:

            "A written address, embodying an application or prayer from the person or persons preferring it,to the power, body, or person to whom it is presented, for the exercise of his or their authority in the redress of some wrong, or the grant of some favor, privilege, or license. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In other words, a petition by definition ordinarily involves at least two persons or entities, the petitioner and the person or body petitioned.  Accordingly, giving the word "petition" its ordinary meaning, we are of the opinion that a city, as a landowner, cannot petition itself for annexation of its own territory under RCW 35.13.130,supra.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney General

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