The City of Mercer Island administers several different sets of rules intended to protect the environment on and around Mercer Island. The rules protecting the environment are generally categorized into three sets of regulations: A) Critical Areas regulations; B) the Shoreline Master Program; and C) SEPA.
What are Critical Areas Regulations?
The Critical Areas regulations are generally intended to protect a variety of critical areas such as wetlands, watercourses/ streams, and geologically hazardous or sensitive areas. Protection of Critical Areas is mandated by the Washington State Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A). The rules protecting critical areas are updated approximately every 8 years by the City to ensure that the "Best Available Science" is considered as the regulations are updated.
The Growth Management Act (chapter 36.70A RCW) requires that the City of Mercer Island engage in continuing review and evaluation of its development regulations related to the protection of environmentally critical areas. On February 6, 2018, the City Council reviewed the proposed scope of work for evaluating the critical areas regulations and the public engagement plan directed staff to proceed. Click here for information regarding the 2018/2019 Critical Areas update.
The final Shoreline Master Program (SMP) was adopted by the City of Mercer Island in 2015 following an extensive update between 2009 and 2015. Preparation of a SMP is mandated by the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58). The SMP regulates development generally within 200 feet of the shoreline of Lake Washington. The SMP is intended to address three major policy goals: 1) encourage water-dependent uses; 2) protecting the shoreline natural resources; and 3)promoting public access to the shoreline. The SMP is also updated every 8 years to ensure consistency with any amended state regulations.
What is the Shoreline Master Program?
What is SEPA?
SEPA is an acronym for the Washington State "State Environmental Policy Act" (RCW 43.21c) and is a process that is intended to identify and analyze environmental impacts that may result from the City of Mercer Island's decision-making process. Decisions that may require a SEPA review include issuing permits for public or private development, construction public facilities, and adopting new regulations, policies, or plans. SEPA review is required for many City actions and is intended to avoid unintended or unacnicipated environmental impacts. For more information on SEPA, please visit the Department of Ecology website here: https://ecology.wa.gov/regulations-permits/SEPA-environmental-review