Somehow, the old signs never confused anyone who lives here. Photo: Ted Olinger, KP News

“I’m completely ignoring it and continuing on with KPN,” said Kelly Gamble of Lakebay.

That was just one of dozens of messages sent to the Key Peninsula News about the address changes to the KP and Fox and Anderson islands that took effect April 1.

Or that were supposed to take effect.

The Pierce County Planning and Public Works office prepared for the sweeping changes for more than a year with news articles, Facebook posts and community meetings. The directionals attached to many street addresses—KPN, KPS, FI and AI—were to be replaced with NW or SW, while some addresses were to be changed entirely, in order to conform to federal postal address standards to take advantage of an updated 911 system. A letter explaining that and how to make the change was sent to every address on the KP, local government agencies and some utilities. 

Not everyone got the message.

A KP News reporter was unable to update the address on her driver’s license, as required by law, at a Department of Licensing office in April. “It’s not in the database,” she was told. The reporter showed the clerk the letter from the county and additional documentation from the county assessor’s office with her new address. “It’s not in the database,” the clerk said.

The KP News received many similar reports.

“Most of the problems people have experienced begin with the Department of Licensing database,” said Pierce County Councilman Derek Young (D-Gig Harbor). “Unfortunately, they didn’t tell us that they had a third-party vendor that we needed to go through.” 

Funneling the updated address information through DOL’s vendor delayed the transition at least until the end of May, Young said. Washington Department of Licensing requires all drivers and licensees to update their address with DOL within 10 days following any change in address. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department advised all law enforcement agencies in Washington not to ticket residents for not changing the address on their driver’s license before June 1. 

“There are a lot of systems that verify name and address based on DOL,” Young said, so residents should start to see some changes appearing in their mail soon.

Vaughn Postmaster DeeDee Emmett advised patience. “USPS has a federal database that is constantly being updated as customers change or correct their addresses,” she said. “Large companies, like CenturyLink, periodically sweep in all that info to correct their own databases.”

Meanwhile, Emmett said, “If mail is coming with the old address for the next year, the only difference is that it won’t be correctly presorted for our carriers. It’s more work for us, but we’re doing it and customers will continue to get their mail.”

KP Fire Chief Guy Allen has fielded about a dozen calls questioning the necessity of a residential address change, mostly from senior citizens concerned about being found if they need help. Allen made house calls to problematic addresses to ensure the department knows the location and to advise the homeowners on how to update their information or appeal it to the county if it seems to be inconsistent with the surrounding area.

“The majority were addresses that needed to be corrected,” he said. “I tell people, if you have been required to overexplain to anyone, including UPS or family and friends, how to get to your house, then there’s probably an issue with your address.”

Jerry Daschofsky, a regular UPS driver on the KP, was unfazed by the changes. “Almost every change I’ve seen is spot on, putting addresses correctly on the grid,” he said. “It’s tough for me, since I’m used to addresses as they are now, but I have yet to not be able to figure out a new address.”

For some residents, the problems are more complex. 

“I went from Hoff Road KPN to 169th Avenue NW,” said Koko Pipkin of Lakebay. “We did not like the street name, so we petitioned for a new one, which after a denial was accepted and it is now Joe’s Bay Road NW.” She also lost a digit from her house address in the bargain.

“I run an Airbnb out of my house and with the road names changed, they (guests) can’t find me and I have to give the old address because the new one doesn’t work,” she said. 

“We want Google to do a mass update,” said Councilman Young. “Amazon and various other places that aren’t using the post office database or DOL database are using Google. We’re literally working through legislators and members of Congress, including colleagues in California, to get to Google; we’re trying to pull every lever. It’s frustrating because it’s not like this has never been done before.”

This is the last step toward fully implementing the enhanced 911 system, which should be ready to roll out before the end of the year, he said.

“Believe me, I would have loved to have left the addresses the same, but this is a requirement of the next-generation 911 system. It’s going to be a huge improvement over the old system and frankly the people who really emphasized the importance of this were our first responders. Our fire chiefs, police chiefs, the sheriff—they made clear they need this,” Young said.

“It’s also clear to me that people liked that unique signifier of the Key Peninsula directional,” he said. “I completely get that. It was unifying for the peninsula; whether you’re Lakebay or Longbranch, the directional was a signifier of where you were from.”

“This has been my third address change and I have lived here for 23 years at the same location,” read one of the messages to the KP News. “I just do nothing and wait a year. If there is a problem with getting money, companies usually will expedite their updates. Other than that, if they don’t care, I don’t care. I like my privacy.” The sender preferred to remain anonymous.

For more information about the address changes, call 253-798–8575 or go to www.co.pierce.wa.us/5715/911-Addressing-Frequently-Asked-Question.

School Bond Fails: KP Votes ‘No’
Population Grows on the Key Peninsula