Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Hiram M. Chittenden Patsy Collins Gordon Hirabayashi Home William Boeing
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

City of Federal Way incorporates on February 28, 1990.

HistoryLink.org Essay 4213 : Printer-Friendly Format

On February 28, 1990, the city of Federal Way in south King County officially incorporates. Residents and officials of the new city mark the occasion with a celebration at a bowling alley. Federal Way's incorporation comes a year after voters, many seeking to slow rapid growth in the area, approve creation of the city. The nearby city of SeaTac, approved in the same election, incorporates the same day.

Proposals to incorporate the Federal Way area as a city date back as far as 1955. Incorporation proposals were placed on the ballot in 1971, 1981, and 1985, but voters rejected them each time. The successful effort began in July 1988, when incorporation supporters filed petitions for a fourth cityhood election to occur in 1989. Backers saw incorporation as a way to slow the rapid growth, especially in apartment construction, that was transforming their community.

Voters Approve New City

The King County Council placed the proposed Federal Way incorporation, along with an incorporation proposal for SeaTac, located a few miles north along Highway 99, on the ballot for March 14, 1989, in an election to be held by mail. King County officials, concerned about loss of revenue to the County, tried to convince local voters not to approve the incorporation. However, the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce supported incorporation. So did many residents unhappy with what they saw as the County's failure to regulate growth in the area. Voters approved creation of the city of Federal Way by a 2 to 1 margin. Voters also approved incorporation of SeaTac, by a narrower margin.

Before Federal Way could incorporate, a city council was needed to enact laws for the new city. A May 1989, primary reduced a field of 37 candidates to 14 finalists for the 7 council seats. In September, voters chose Debbie Ertel, Mary Gates, Jim Handmacher, Joel Marks, Bob Stead, Lynn Templeton, and Jim Webster as the first Federal Way city council. The council selected Ertel as the first mayor, and set February 28, 1990, as the official incorporation date.

A Day of Celebration

Leaders of the incorporation campaign and advocates of slowing growth predominated on the new council. Council members spent the five months between their election and the incorporation date working on new development regulations, completing their work by adopting strict new standards at 10:42 p.m. on February 27, 1990, less than two hours before the incorporation deadline. At midnight, when Federal Way officially became a city, council members celebrated at Gates  home.

All 58,000 residents of the new city were invited to celebrate the incorporation at a ceremony held the evening of February 28, 1990. More than 300 people attended the celebration, which was held at the Sportsworld Lanes bowling complex. It featured a large birthday cake, a baby grand piano, champagne toasts, speeches, and a congratulatory letter from President George Bush (b. 1924).

Michele Matassa Flores, "City Reins In Growth From the Start," The Seattle Times, February 28, 1990, p. F-1; Flores and Linda W. Y. Parrish, "Coming of Age: Federal Way and SeaTac, A Times Special Report," Ibid., pp. F-3-F-10; Flores, "It's Official, So Federal Way Celebrates," Ibid., March 1, 1990, p. B-3; George Foster, "First Day for New Cities of Federal Way and SeaTac," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 1, 1990, p. B-1.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Cities & Towns | Government & Politics |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

This essay made possible by:
Cultural Development Authority of King County
Hotel/Motel Tax Revenues

Green River with SeaTac, Des Moines, Kent, and Federal Way, 2001
Map by Chris Goodman

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org