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Local Government Resource Desk

Boundary Changes

Detachment from a City Government


"Detachment" from a city means the contraction of the corporate boundaries of the city by the removal of territory formerly within its jurisdiction. There are two methods available to detach territory from a city. One involves an election among the voters in the territory proposed for detachment, AS 29.06.040(c)(1). The other involves legislative review (Article X, Section 12, Alaska Constitution)

The detachment process requires a substantial commitment of time as well as other resources. Before any decision is made to propose and prepare a detachment petition, petitioners should consider the need for detachment, the method to use, and the likelihood of success. This section provides a brief overview of basic detachment information; however, this is a complex matter that cannot be covered completely in this brief overview.


Detachment Through Election by Voters in the Territory Proposed for Detachment. Territory may be detached, upon approval by the Local Boundary Commission, if an election is held and a majority of the voters living in the territory to be detached vote to approve it. To pass, the proposition must be approved by a majority of those voting on the question.

Detachment by Legislative Review. Territory may be detached without approval by the voters or property owners under the legislative review process. Such proposals require approval by the Local Boundary Commission as well as review and tacit approval by the State legislature under Article X, Section 12 of Alaska's constitution. Tacit approval means the action is approved unless specific action is taken to deny the action within a set period of time. Legislative review is initiated when the LBC files a recommendation for the detachment with the legislature. Such recommendations may be filed only during the first 10 days of a regular session of the legislature. The recommendation is rejected only if the legislature adopts a concurrent resolution to deny the action within 45 days of the date that it was filed. Otherwise, the proposal is tacitly approved by the legislature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can initiate a detachment petition?

A petition for detachment may be initiated by:

  • a city;
  • a borough;
  • a regional educational attendance area (REAA);
  • at least 10 percent of the resident registered voters of a city, borough, or regional educational attendance area;
  • at least 25 percent of the resident registered voters of the area proposed for detachment;
  • the state legislature;
  • the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (Commerce);
  • a party designated by the Local Boundary Commission.

Are disagreements with the city government a basis for detachment?

Occasionally, a petitioner is motivated by disagreements with the city over policy issues, land use regulation, tax rates, apparent differences between levels of service and taxes or fees, or similar issues. Such disagreements are not a basis for detachment. Detachment is not intended to be a means to settle group or individual disagreements with local governments. Detachments rarely occur. A proposal to detach territory will be granted only if it meets all applicable standards established in law.

Who can provide information regarding detachment from cities?

There is a Local Boundary Commission staff. The LBC staff is located within the Division of Community and Regional Affairs. That division is within the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The staff is available to provide technical assistance, petition forms, and sample annexation materials to anyone interested in
petitioning, and is available to provide materials and information to those interested in responding to a petition. The staff also provides general information to any other interested individuals or groups.

If an individual, group, or organization does not want detachment, does the state assist them as well?

Yes. LBC staff will provide information about how to submit comments, or how to submit a responsive brief. Submitting a responsive brief allows any interested party to be identified as a "respondent" in the detachment proceeding. Being identified as a respondent provides certain procedural rights at the commission's public hearing. These rights include being able to present witnesses and to give opening and closing arguments. The staff can also explain the standards and procedures.

Can a petition be amended after it is filed?

The petition may be amended by the petitioner. The LBC can also amend it or add conditions to a proposal following a public hearing. Ideally, however, with careful planning and consultation before filing a petition, changes can be avoided. Changing a petition may, under certain circumstances, cause delays in the process.

How long does it take to detach?

It typically takes several months (in some cases a year or more depending on the local effort) to prepare a proper petition. Prospective petitioners are encouraged to work closely with the LBC staff in developing a petition. Once a petition is completed the petition is filed with the LBC. The process for review of the proposal by the LBC depends, in part, upon other actions pending before the Commission. The procedural steps required by law are extensive. In general, one should assume that it may take one year or longer from the filing of a petition for final action.

Additional Resources


Recommended web site search topics:

  • Local Boundary Commission (LBC) Staff
  • Alaska Municipal League
  • Alaska Statutes
  • Alaska Administrative Code
  • Alaska Department of Law
  • Alaska Constitution
Applicable Laws and Regulations

Alaska Constitution - Article X

  • Section 1. Purpose and Construction, local self-government, local government units.
  • Section 7. Cities.
  • Section 12. Boundaries, authority for tacit legislative approval, authority for LBC to establish procedures for boundary adjustment.
  • Section 14. Agency to advise and assist local governments.

Alaska Statutes

  • AS 29.06.040. Local Boundary Commission.
  • AS 44.33.810. Local Boundary Commission, appointment.
  • AS 44.33.812. Powers and Duties.
  • AS 44.33.814. Meetings and Hearings.
  • AS 44.33.816. Minutes and Records.
  • AS 44.33.818. Notice of Public Hearings.
  • AS 44.33.820. Quorum.
  • AS 44.33.822. Boundary Change, majority vote.
  • AS 44.33.824. Expenses.
  • AS 44.33.826. Hearings on boundary changes.
  • AS 44.33.828. When boundary changes take effect.

Alaska Administrative Code

  • 3 AAC 110.260. Best interest finding, factors considered in determining best interest.
  • 3 AAC 110.400. Applicability.
  • 3 AAC 110.410. Petitioners, authorized petitioners, signature requirements.
  • 3 AAC 110.420. Petition, form, supporting brief, exhibits.
  • 3 AAC 110.430. Consolidation of petitions.
  • 3 AAC 110.440. Technical review of petitions, Commerce review, deficient petition.
  • 3 AAC 110.450. Notice of petition, time limit and method for providing notice.
  • 3 AAC 110.460. Service of petition, recipients and method of delivery, availability of all petition documents for public review.
  • 3 AAC 110.470. Proof of notice and service.
  • 3 AAC 110.480. Responsive briefs and written comments, filing with Commerce, affidavit of delivery to petitioner.
  • 3 AAC 110.490. Reply brief, filing with Commerce, affidavit of delivery to respondent.
  • 3 AAC 110.500. Limitations on advocacy, adherence to regulations, commission contact with interested parties.
  • 3 AAC 110.510. Informational sessions, Commerce determination of adequate public information sessions, affidavit.
  • 3 AAC 110.520. Departmental public meetings, notice, affidavit of posting, presiding officer, meeting summary, postponement, relocation.
  • 3 AAC 110.530. Departmental report, draft review and comment.
  • 3 AAC 110.540. Amendments and withdrawal, time limit, petition signatures, notice, service.
  • 3 AAC 110.550. Commission public hearing, notice, public service announcement, postponement, relocation.
  • 3 AAC 110.560. Commission hearing procedures, presiding officer, commission quorum, limit on comments, witnesses, sworn testimony, timely submission of documents.
  • 3 AAC 110.570. Decisional meeting, time limit, commission quorum, change to comply with law, minutes, statement of considerations, decision, affidavit.
  • 3 AAC 110.580. Reconsideration, time limit, denial or acceptance of request.
  • 3 AAC 110.600. Local action/local option elections, election by director of elections under AS 15, election by municipality.
  • 3 AAC 110.610. Legislative review, amendment to consider as local action/option procedure, legislative review of commission decision.
  • 3 AAC 110.620. Judicial review, appeal and judicial review in accordance with Administrative Procedure Act.
  • 3 AAC 110.630. Effective date and certification, Voting Rights Act approval, certification of election, legislative review deadline, certificate of change, recordation.
  • 3 AAC 110.640. Scheduling, chairperson order setting/ amending schedule, timeline, postponement.
  • 3 AAC 110.650. Resubmittals and reversals, denial of previous similar petition, request for reversal of decision.
  • 3 AAC 110.660. Purpose of procedural regulations; relaxation or suspension of procedural regulation, commission discretion, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.900. Transition, submission of transition plan; assumption of powers, duties, responsibilities, assets, and liabilities; time limit on execution of plan; approved agreement.
  • 3 AAC 110.910. Statement of non-discrimination.
  • 3 AAC 110.920. Determination of community, factors considered in determining whether the term community applies.
  • 3 AAC 110.970. Determination of essential city or borough services, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.980. Determination of best interests of the state, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.990. Definitions.

Revised 10/2/2018