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Mercer Island, WA 98040
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City of Mercer Island / Community Planning & Development / Land Use / Planning / Environment / 2018-2019 Critical Areas/ Shoreline Master Program Update

2018-2019 Critical Areas Ordinance / Shoreline Master Program Update

Get Involved

Click to visit the CAO and SMP public comment website
The City's Planning Commission has begun the updating process, and interested residents can learn more and give feedback through the City's new online community engagement platform, Let's Talk Mercer Island.  The City launched this new platform in August 2018 to make it easier for residents and business owners to engage with major City issues at a time and place that is most convenient for them.

Please visit the Critical Areas and Shorelines page to read about the process, ask questions and post public comments. City staff will respond to questions and all comments will be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Comments may also be sent to this Email inbox:

Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) Update:

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. 

The Critical Areas code update fulfills a requirement of the Growth Management Act (GMA) for cities to review and, if needed, revise their development regulations to ensure that they comply with the GMA. Compliance with the GMA means adopting development regulations that protect critical areas, which are defined in state law as (a) wetlands; (b) areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water; (c) fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas; (d) frequently flooded areas; and (e) geologically hazardous areas. RCW 36.70A.030(5). Currently, regulations protecting these features are generally contained in chapter 19.07 of the Mercer Island City Code.  The last update of the Critical Areas code occurred in 2005.

Shoreline Master Program (SMP) Update:

The resulting amendments to the critical areas regulations would also apply within the shoreline area; however, to amend the regulations within the shoreline jurisdiction, the City is required to undertake a Shoreline Master Program amendment. Even if the City did not engage in an update to the Critical Areas code, an update to the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is required in 2019 by state law (chapter 90.58 RCW).  Fortunately, the City can update the SMP once, by processing the Critical Areas code update as a SMP amendment that also meets the requirements of the state-mandated SMP update.

Scope of Work

Click here to view the scope of work for the Critical Areas Update.

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