Blame it on the dark and stormy night of Nov. 13, but when a team of planners from Pierce County Planning and Land Use Services (PALS) hosted a community outreach meeting at the KP Civic Center in Vaughn to provide details on impending address changes for most homes and businesses on the Key Peninsula, nearly nobody came.
Official address change notifications, including the effective dates, will begin arriving in January. For most KP residents, only the directional suffix will change. Approximately 350 address will change to eliminate known problems in conjunction with the broader changes. “People don’t seem super concerned about it,” said Senior Planner Tiffany O’Dell, project manager for the addressing overhaul.
“We are well-prepared to help people understand how the changes will affect them. Our website includes an interactive map that allows property owners to enter their property address or parcel number to see what their new address will be,” O’Dell said. “People should not begin using the new addresses until they receive official notice of their effective date.”
The KP News reported in August of 2016 that Pierce County planners were required to made sweeping changes to the address system on Key Peninsula, Fox Island and Anderson Island in order to be compliant with postal address standards required to implement Next Generation 911, an enhanced emergency response system designed to include technological advances in how people communicate.
For Key Peninsula residents, the changes mean an end to the atypical directionals at the end of street names. KPN will change to NW and KPS will become SW. The unusual three letters were originally intended to prevent errors, especially on the 23-mile-long KP where heading off in the wrong direction, north or south, in response to emergencies, had the potential to result in major delays. Changing to the cardinal directions or NW and SW are now required to greatly improve service via Next Generation 911.
The existing 911 infrastructure accepts voice-only calls. Once Next Generation 911 is in place, Pierce County residents will be able to contact 911 using voice or text messaging and to send critical photos or videos that could help first responders understand complex or dangerous unfolding situations.
“The implications are astonishing. Imagine how this will improve the ability to call for help. The ability to discreetly call for help in difficult situations could be a real game changer for victims of violence both inside and outside the home,” said Battalion Chief Anne Nesbit, KPFD 16.
Kitsap County 911 launched text-to-911 in March 2015. “Overall it’s working very well. In 2015, we received 273 events reported via text and of those, 41 were true emergencies that could not have been reported otherwise,” said Maria Jameson-Owens, deputy director of Kitsap 911. “It’s especially helpful for hearing impaired individuals. Emergency calls are still best by telephone as text continues to be a little bit slower back and forth with 911 operators.”
Some Key Pen residents, like 13- year-old Brynn Smith of Lakebay, aren’t too keen on the idea of dropping the KP part of the addresses. “They can change the letters but it won’t stop us from being proud of living on the KP. We’re still who we are and nobody can change that,” she said.