In 1960, the newly created City of Mercer Island adopted the city’s Comprehensive Plan. At that time the issues facing the community reflected those of a city in its infancy:
•to encourage the most appropriate use of land;
•to develop a circulation system that will provide safety and convenience;
•to install public facilities adequate to meet the demands of the population; and,
•to preserve the unique physical setting of the island.
Since 1960, the city has evolved into a mature community within the rapidly growing Puget Sound region. The 1990 Growth Management Act provided an opportunity for the community to update its original Comprehensive Plan. By 1994, the issues facing the community were different from those in 1960.
The 1994 Comprehensive Plan identified the essential issues facing the City while re-enforcing our community values in relationship to the region. The Plan focused on how to revitalize the city’s Town Center, comply with regional requirements for clean water and transportation, meet local needs for affordable housing and maintain reliability in public facilities and utilities.
The 2004 Comprehensive Plan update built upon the efforts begun in the previous decade. Some change has occurred. Improvements to Town Center streets and the adoption of new design regulations have helped spawn new mixed-use and commercial development in the Town Center. However, most of the key issues and the overall vision identified in 1994 Comprehensive Plan continue to be relevant for this community.
Currently, the island is almost fully developed, consistent with the long term goals of maintaining a single family residential community within a unique physical setting. The City is served with an adequate and convenient circulation system. Parks, open space, public facilities and utilities are available, consistent with the needs of the citizenry. The City and private parties have made a considerable investment in the redevelopment of the Town Center with new buildings, a more vibrant streetscape and pedestrian-friendly environment.
The City’s efforts to focus growth and revitalize the Town Center through targeted capital improvements and design standards to foster high quality development are now bearing fruit. Between 2004 and 2014, eight mixed use projects were constructed in the Town Center, consisting of approximately 850 housing units.
In 2018, the City Council committed to a continuous process of self-improvement and self-assessment by evaluating City’s policies and programs against the best practices established by the leading international analytic framework. Initially this was accomplished through the use of the STAR Community Rating System. As better analytic tools become available, the intention is to continue to identify and adopt the leading international analytic framework.
The Vision Statement, following this Introduction, details how the community’s values will be manifested in future years. The issues addressed in this Comprehensive Plan concern how best to revitalize the city’s Town Center, comply with regional requirements for clean water and transportation, meet local needs for affordable housing and maintain reliability in public facilities and utilities.
The challenge in this process will continue to be in translating the requirements of the Growth Management Act and policies of related planning documents including the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) Vision 2040 and Transportation 2040, and the King County Countywide Planning Policies into a meaningful planning process for Mercer Island. Every effort has been made to concentrate first on the most pressing issues of the community, while still complying with the other requirements of the Growth Management Act.