Every two-three years, King County's Department of Local Services works with the unincorporated area residents to identify the funding priorities for their communities, the Community Needs Lists. The 2021-2022 Community Needs Lists are in the documents section at the bottom of this website.

These lists are important for informing the planning and budgeting of King County’s work in unincorporated King County. King County Departments must identify which of their projects are related to the Community Needs Lists when they submit their budget requests to the King County Council. The projects proposed for the 2023-2024 budget are in also in the documents section below.

The King County Department of Local Services provides resources and information sessions to support this effort. It also works with the other County departments to make sure they participate in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

They are lists of potential services, programs, facilities, and capital improvements that have been identified by community members and could be implemented by King County. 

King County Code (KCC) 2.16.055.C.1 requires the County’s Department of Local Services to develop 11 individual community needs lists, one for each of the six rural King County community service areas and one for each of the County’s five urban potential annexation areas.

Local Services creates these list together with community members and King County departments every two-three years. The lists are sent to the King County Council at the same time as the Executive's proposed budget.

Departments use the lists to help develop their budget requests and indicate which are priorities for unincorporated King County communities. Councilmembers may use the lists to understand community priorities.

They allow community members to influence the King County budget and are an important source of information for King County departments as they develop their budget requests. They also help the County emphasize the importance of community priorities in grant applications.

Items on the Community Needs Lists need funding to be implemented, and any funding requests arising from the Community Needs Lists must be approved through the County budget process.

Community members can take a survey during the idea-gathering phase this summer and then participate in workshops in the fall to help prioritize and refine community requests. The prioritized list of requests will then be shared with county departments to be assessed for feasibility. Only feasible requests will be placed on the Community Needs Lists and used as input for developing budget requests. The recommended Community Needs Lists are then transmitted to the King County Council for possible adoption.

The County will monitor the implementation of funded items on the lists and report back to the community once a year.

Local Services helps the development of Community Needs Lists by engaging with community members and working with County departments. This year’s process and survey structure was co-created by community members and King County staff.

All of the unincorporated areas can participate. There are 11 areas overall.

  • Bear Creek/Sammamish
  • East Federal Way
  • East Renton Plateau
  • Fairwood Community
  • Four Creeks/Tiger Mountain
  • Greater Maple Valley/Cedar River Area
  • North Highline/White Center
  • Skyway-West Hill
  • Snoqualmie Valley/NE King County Areas
  • Southeast King County
  • Vashon-Maury Island

Ideas that end up on the Community Needs Lists meet all of the following criteria.

  • are community priorities
  • respond to community needs
  • are consistent with other County plans and priorities
  • can legally be implemented by a King County Executive Branch department or its divisions*
  • strengthen the community's vision and the policies in the community's subarea plan (Note: these have not been developed for all areas yet).

The County also looks at what it would cost and when an idea could potentially be implemented.

*Executive Branch Departments = Department of Community and Human Services, Department of Executive Services, Department of Local Services, Department of Natural Resources and Parks, King County Information Technology, King County Sheriff's Office, Metro Transit, and King County Public Health.

Your idea goes to the department that is most likely the one that could implement it. The department decides whether it is something it can legally do and whether it is consistent with other county plans (such as the Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan, the Strategic Climate Action Plan, the department's strategic plan, etc.)

If your idea is something the County could do and it is a priority for your community, it goes onto the Community Needs List. Items on the Community Needs List then have to go through the budgeting process. Some ideas will be budgeted and Local Services will report back every year which items are moving forward.

If your idea is not something the County does, then it does not go onto the Community Needs Lists. Instead, Local Services tries to send it to an organization that could do something about it, e.g. If you have a comment about a state highway, we send it to the Washington State Department of Transportaton.

Here are two ways to find out if you are in unincorporated King County.

  1. Find or enter your address on this map. The green layer shows unincorporated King County.
  2. Enter your address in King County’s Parcel Viewer and see what’s listed as the jurisdiction.

You can also submit ideas via email and telephone:

Email: AskLocalServices@kingcounty.gov. 

Telephone: 206-477-3800

Ideas also come from the Participatory Budgeting Program. Those ideas are also evaluated to see if they belong on the Community Needs List for a particular area. And lastly, ideas from the last survey are also kept for review. All of the ideas will be reviewed in the workshops in October, where community members will decide what their top priorities are.

Complete the survey! And if you would like to be in the workshops, make sure to add your email address when you get to the end of the survey. You can also email the project manager to let her know you would like to participate in the workshops in the fall.

The implementation of items on the Community Needs Lists are not connected to dedicated funding, and items may be funded through a variety of sources. Most King County funds are healthy, but the General Fund is facing a $50 million shortfall in 2025 due to the state’s one percent limit on property tax collections.

If a department proposes implementing an item on the Community Needs Lists in the next budget cycle, that request would need to go through the regular budget process. Because we don’t yet know which items on the Community Needs Lists will be proposed by departments for implementation, it is not possible to say how the funding of those proposals could be impacted by the General Fund shortfall.

More about King County funding:

King County’s work is supported by many different sources of funding, from fees-for-service to taxes. Most of these funding sources can only be used for a particular type of work or program (e.g. Best Starts for Kids is funded by taxes raised as a result of the Best Starts for Kids levy). Some of these funding sources do not raise enough money to cover the work the County needs to do (e.g. Road Services funding is not adequate to maintain, fix, and improve the roads and bridges in unincorporated King County). Others do raise enough to cover the work the County needs to do (e.g. Metro has adequate funding to build out our public transportation network).

The budget shortfall that has been talked about most recently (2023) is in the King County General Fund, which currently funds programs required by law and programs that address King County priorities. Because there is not adequate funding to cover all of the current King County legally-required and priority programs that are supported by the General Fund, difficult decisions will need to be made about which programs will continue.


Contact us

If you have comments or questions, please contact:

Sara Estiri
Program Manager
 Email: sestiri@kingcounty.gov
 Office phone: 206-477-5334

The Unincorported Areas of King County 


Would you like us to present this information to your local community organization, school, place of worship, or housing assocation? Please contact us at the email address below!

Project Timeline, Snoqualmie Valley/NE King County

Nov. '22 - Jan. '23

Community members and King County staff co-create an improved process.

Apr. - Jun. '23

King County develops the survey per the co-creation team instructions.

Jul. - Aug. '23

The survey is open.

Sept. - Oct. '23

Initial feasibility review phase 

Oct. - Dec '23

 Equity impact review - community engagement phase I 

Jan - Feb. '24

Community engagement phase II -  Departments review the feasibility of ideas.

Mar. - Apr. '24

King County staff pulls together the final community needs lists.

Jun. - Sept. '24

Departments develop their King County budget requests for 2025.

Oct. - Dec. '24

The King County Council reviews the proposed budget. It makes changes and then appproves the King County budget.