Planning commission digs deeper into city’s comprehensive plan update

Capital facilities and utilities elements discussed at meeting.

The Mercer Island Planning Commission continued its review of the city’s comprehensive plan update by placing a second lens on the capital facilities and utilities elements at its Jan. 25 regular hybrid meeting.

As noted in city documents, the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) requires the city to update its plan on or before June 30, 2024, and the city council approved the commencement of the two-year renovation process for the years 2024-2044 at a meeting last March.

Alison Van Gorp, the city’s deputy director for community planning and development, previously told the Reporter that the plan functions as the city’s growth vision and road map for housing and economic development, transportation, utilities, environment, parks and more.

At the recent meeting, senior city planner Adam Zack said that any amendments made to the capital facilities and utilities elements of the plan are put into action “to maintain our Growth Management Act compliance and to remain consistent with those county wide planning policies.” Links to the public review draft of the elements — which may feature additional alterations at a later date — are now posted on the city’s Let’s Talk platform.

On the climate action front, a robust discussion arose regarding whether to strike a paragraph in the capital facilities realm as it was said to possibly lean in the political direction amidst the city’s hefty march toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“This is in a section of the element that’s talking about the intersection between our capital facilities and our climate change planning efforts,” said Zack, adding that the graph was inspired by the city’s inaugural Climate Action Plan (CAP) that’s presently in the works.

In the end, the commission decided to retain the graph because of the importance of the city’s CAP endeavors and continuance in raising public awareness.

One amendment formulated on the utilities element section was worded as, “The city should collaborate with King County to support implementation of regional water quality planning strategies, such as the Clean Water, Healthy Habitat Strategic Plan.”

Later in the meeting, the commissioners added the sentence, “Consider natural asset management as part of utilities management,” and noted that it’s a topic worthy of public comment at an upcoming meeting. Natural assets were defined at the meeting as green infrastructure.

Last November, the planning commission delved into the transportation and land-use elements of the plan. Those elements, along with the recently discussed elements and more, will be up for public input during a community open house slated for this summer, according to Let’s Talk.

On tap in the fall will be a commission-led public hearing on the overall comprehensive plan update; the commission will then review the elements before making a recommendation to city council.

For more information and links to the public review drafts of the elements discussed at the meeting, visit Residents can submit written comments or questions to