Signs you live in Vancouver city limits
Your address says you live in Vancouver, but your property tax bill and ballot indicate otherwise.
As evidenced by the recent failed light-rail petition, some people don’t know where they live. More than 3,350 people who signed the petition were registered voters who don’t live within Vancouver city limits and so their signatures were deemed invalid.
Petitioners said a lot of people, when directly asked if they live within city limits, said they didn’t know.
So what are the best ways to find out? The most direct way is to look up your address online in the Clark County Property Information Center. Type in your address. Here’s from my account:
I live within Vancouver’s urban growth area, but outside city limits. If I lived inside city limits, the jurisdiction would say “Vancouver.” Instead, it says “Clark County.”
You can look at maps, such as this one of Vancouver neighborhoods, or this one showing city limits and the urban growth area.
As a 76-year-old reader recently reminded me, not everyone has a computer. So here’s a list of ways to tell whether you live in the city without using a computer.
Most of the clues come with a catch.
Your ballot: Are you ever asked to vote in Vancouver City Council races? If you live in the city, the races will be on your ballot.
Your property taxes: Look at the breakdown of how your taxes are distributed. Are you paying taxes to the city?
The catch: People who pay property taxes through their mortgage companies don’t receive the breakdown. Clark County commissioners considered mailing them out, but decided not to spend the money when the information is available online.
Your street sign: Signs bearing street names are green inside city limits, yellow outside city limits.
The catch: This is an outdated clue, because some areas that have been annexed by the city still have yellow street signs. And the county has started replacing yellow signs with white ones. And if you live on a private road, the sign is likely white. Although the city has been replacing private signs with green signs.
Fire services: Who would respond if your house was on fire? The Vancouver Fire Department or one of the fire districts?
The catch: Vancouver Fire Department contracted to provide services in Clark County District 5 in 1994 with the idea that the area within the city’s urban growth boundary, which includes Orchards, Sifton, Pleasant Valley and Minnehaha, would eventually be annexed.
Nearly two decades later, parts have been annexed but there are no plans for widespread annexation.
Utilities: This clue was written by Loretta Callahan, spokeswoman for the city’s public works department: “On City of Vancouver Utility bills, whether those are electronic or paper bills, it will indicate whether the address that receives service is County residential or City residential, County commercial or City commercial, etc. In this case, County refers to unincorporated Clark County and you are not inside City of Vancouver limits even though the city provides you with water and/or sewer. Does your Utility bill include a charge for stormwater drainage? If so, that’s another indicator that you live inside Vancouver city limits.”
Recycling services This clue is also from Callahan: If you live in an urban area, is your recycling collected weekly or is it every-other-week service? For urban customers living in the unincorporated area, residential recycling (the 60-gallon, big blue cart) is picked up weekly. For residents inside city limits, your 90-gallon blue, or pink, cart is picked up every other week. Note: Urban is key, as rural residents in unincorporated Clark County who subscribe to recycling service have every other week collections.
There are other clues, such as police services (Who would show up if you called 911? A Vancouver police officer or a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy?) but these will give you a good idea if you are in the city or out.