Shoreline plan nears completion

This southeast shoreline view near the swim beach at Luther Burbank Park shows boats moored along North Mercer Way.  - Chad Coleman/Staff Photo
This southeast shoreline view near the swim beach at Luther Burbank Park shows boats moored along North Mercer Way.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Staff Photo

After months of work, the city of Mercer Island is nearly ready to submit its final changes for the Island’s shoreline master plan to the state of Washington for approval.

Citizens and landowners have just a couple more chances to hear and comment about the plan before it becomes law.

The shoreline master plan is the law that governs shoreline policies and regulations, including docks, bulkheads, vegetation and shoreline uses. Approximately 1,000 parcels of land on the Island are governed by these laws, officials at the city said.

The purpose of the plan is to protect shorelines and bodies of water, such as Lake Washington, and fish and wildlife.

The Planning Commission is holding a public hearing on the plan Wednesday night, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. A draft of the proposal is available for review at or at City Hall. A draft of the plan can be seen online or at City Hall. Mercer Island’s current SMP has been in effect since the early 1970s and requires all cities and counties to develop regulations for properties within 200 feet of the shoreline. The law also requires all master programs to be updated with consideration given to shoreline ecological functions.

As far as homeowners with waterfront are concerned, big changes are not expected in the updated plan, said Tim Stewart, development service director for the city.

The draft SMP includes an allowance for legal non-conforming structures, including docks, to be maintained and repaired without losing their legal non-conforming status. Completely new buildings or uses will have to meet the new standards.

The update also recognizes the wealth of public access to the lake via its existing efforts to restore and promote the shoreline through the existing SMP policies and restoration plan at street ends, as well as public parks.

After the public hearing and any further changes made as a result, the plan will recommend the draft SMP to the City Council for their review and approval. The Washington State Department of Ecology will conduct the final review.

Contact Travis Saunders, city planner, at Travis

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