South Hill made an attempt at cityhood in the late 1990s
by Carl Vest
While it may not be early history, many newcomers to the Hill may not be aware that during the 1990s an attempt was made to incorporate South Hill as a city. The name of the proposed municipality was to be Southview.
There has been considerable speculation about the label Southview. How the designation was chosen has been the subject of endless conjecture. Actually the name was picked by the Cityhood For Southview Committee to represent the two main geographical areas in the proposal: South Hill and Summit View.
According to a Notice of Intention and Feasibility Study submitted in June 1998 to the Pierce County Boundary Review Board, the proposal to create a city had its roots in citizen dissatisfaction with County government and particularly the perceived lack of attention the area was getting. This dissatisfaction had been building over a number of years and can actually be found referenced in media reports as early as the 1970s.
It all started coming to a head in the early to mid 1990s. Local citizen activists began to create groups specifically formed to address what they considered County management shortcomings. One of the first one to take shape was the South Hill-Summit View Community Council. Its stated purpose was to bring together “local residents, business leaders and civic leaders to address some of the needs of the community.” An early declaration from this group was the stated need for citizens to have a greater say and more participation in local planning and land use issues. It was officially requested that the County form a Land Use Advisory Board. Also a Community Zoning Plan was demanded. Both requests were rejected. Therefore, with the lack of support and interest from Pierce County, the Community Council began to explore other options.
A second working group of interested citizens was then formed. At that point the idea of creating a city emerged. Based on this thought they named themselves The Cityhood for Southview Committee. Through the efforts of this group a petition drive for incorporation was initiated. Completed petitions, signed by ten percent of the registered voters residing within the limits of the proposed city, were filed with the County Auditor on May 6, 1998. The Auditor certified the sufficiency of the incorporation petition on June 1, 1998. Also by that time the Committee had also gained the support of a large number of local organizations.
As required by law, the proposal was then submitted to the Pierce County Boundary Review Board for examination. That happened in August 1998. The Board recommended against incorporation. Moreover, opposition surfaced from other sources, primarily land developers and others who generally lived outside the proposed city area but nevertheless had vested interests in keeping the area unincorporated and free from what they anticipated would be restricted development regulations.
The proposedincorporation was submitted to the voters in November 1998. It was soundly defeated at the polls. That ended the Hill’s only attempt to incorporate as a city.
Carl Vest, PhD, is a founding member and Research Director for the South Hill Historical Society.