Q&A of the Day
The City publishes Q&A’s to help answer current community questions.
Send your Q&A of the Day suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q&A OF THE DAY – Current Crime Rates
Q: Is there a rise in crime currently? What are the latest crime statistics for Mercer Island and what is MIPD doing to fight crime?
A: Overall, the MIPD is actually seeing a general decline in numbers for many crime categories on the Island. To help residents assess the statistics for themselves, we have made current stats more easily viewed on a new MIPD webpage: www.mercergov.org/CrimeStats. In comparing the Year-To-Date (YTD) numbers for this time in 2018 vs. 2017, we see total “Calls For Service” down from 9042 to 8301. Meanwhile total YTD “Serious Offenses” for this time in 2018 vs. 2017 are down from 442 to 337. These numbers do not include a crime spree in August by one individual (now apprehended) believed to responsible for several burglaries and other offenses; August data will be compiled in a few days.
The City’s most recent citizen survey, conducted by mail using a third-party vendor and randomly selected participants (711 total) revealed that:
95% of residents are very satisfied/satisfied with their overall feeling of safety
85% of residents are very satisfied/satisfied with visibility of police in the community
84% of residents are very satisfied/satisfied with police services
We are also working on a short summary of current MIPD crime-fighting activities, including some recent successes that some residents may not be aware of – this information should be available late next week. In the meantime, residents wishing to explore criminal activity geographically are directed to our partner: www.crimemapping.com.
The MIPD continues to actively support a number of effective crime prevention programs and always welcomes additional participation; please see: www.mercergov.org/CrimePrevention. The next event in our ongoing “Coffee With A Cop” series is currently being scheduled and will provide a good opportunity to talk directly with the Police Dept about your concerns.
Posted August 31, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY – Fireworks
Q: What are the rules and regulations for fireworks in Mercer Island? Has the City Council considered banning fireworks?
A: Legal fireworks are allowed in Mercer Island on July 4 only, between 11:00am – 11:00pm. Fireworks are prohibited in all parks and school district properties (MICC 9.30.070 and MIDS Policy #5114). A list of legal fireworks can be found on the City’s fireworks information page.
An early draft of the 2018-19 Council Goals and Work Plan included a fireworks ban, but it did not make the final version. Visit the Council’s Goals and Work Plan webpage for information on this year’s priorities and goals.
For safety tips, instructions on safe disposal, and a list of legal and illegal fireworks visit the Fireworks Safety page.
Posted July 3, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY – Construction on SE 40th Street
Q: What’s going on with the construction on SE 40th Street? Were residents notified?
A: On June 18, the City began making improvements to SE 40th Street from Island Crest Way (ICW) to Gallagher Hill Road. The project will construct concrete curbs, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes on both sides of the roadway. The project is part of the City's current 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan and is being partially funded through a grant from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board.
Work will be between 7:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday, with the goal of having SE 40th Street from ICW to 88th Avenue substantially completed before school begins in September; no weekend work is currently planned. Flaggers will maintain one open lane of traffic at all times. Outside of working hours the roadway will be open to two lanes of traffic.
A letter of notification was mailed to residents on June 11. Information can also be found in the June 20 edition of the MI Weekly. The press release can be found on the City’s website: www.mercergov.org/News.asp?NewsID=2316.
Contact Clint Morris, City Street Engineer, with any questions at email@example.com.
Posted: June 26, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY – Homelessness on Mercer Island
Q: What’s going on with all this talk about homeless camps on Mercer Island?
A: There is no doubt that the Puget Sound region is experiencing a significant increase in homelessness activity. Mercer Island, however, has not encountered this issue on the same scale. City staff have inspected the sites being discussed by the community and believe that these sites are not indicative of a rise in homelessness activity on the Island.
WEST MERCER WAY OFF-RAMP: The plywood structure and building materials on the West Mercer Way off ramp are located on WSDOT right-of-way. Mercer Island Police (MIPD) reported that it does not appear to have been inhabited in the last year. They have coordinated with WSDOT and Parks Maintenance staff for its removal. WSDOT will be removing the structure on Monday, June 25.
MERCERDALE PARK: The Parks & Recreation Department received a call on Saturday (June 16) afternoon about campfire remnants and hypodermic needles on the hillside at Mercerdale Park. A Police Sergeant dispatched to the site found debris that looked to have been there for a few months. He advised the Parks Maintenance Team of the location and nature of the site, who have conducted a sweep of the area. While this area of Mercerdale has been a hotspot for activity, Parks Maintenance staff have made considerable efforts to mitigate illegal activity by (1) inhibiting foot traffic in the area by blocking the social trail with large pieces of wood and brush, replanting trees and shrubs, and posting signage, and (2) periodically monitoring the hillside to evaluate if it’s being actively used. Once alerted to an issue such as this, staff take immediate measures to remove all garbage and furniture, and begin regular sweeps of the area to dissuade future use. In the rare cases where one appears to be an active camp or host to illegal activities, staff immediately refer the matter to the MIPD.
The situations staff have been alerted to regarding camps are (1) a deserted structure and (2) a “party camp,” not homeless encampments. The City has not observed a growing problem with homeless encampments in Mercer Island. This year’s activity level is consistent with past years. The City is, nevertheless, committed to addressing the problem of homelessness as a City and a regional partner. The safety and security of our residents is one of our top priorities.
When the Police and Parks departments are made aware of encampments, be it a party camp or homeless campsite, they respond quickly to handle the situation. Parks staff work diligently to keep Mercer Island parks safe and clean, but hidden gathering areas in our open spaces can be difficult to detect – so staff are grateful to park users for alerting the team to any such issues. On the rare occasion that encampments are located on City owned property, MIPD will post notice of the violation (illegal camping) and allow the occupants time to remove personal property. After the specified time, the tent/property and other items left behind are removed from the location. MIPD temporarily stores any items deemed to be personal property in case they are claimed. For encampments on properties owned by other jurisdictions, such as WSDOT, police and parks staff will coordinate the removal of the encampment with that agency.
The City encourages residents to report non-emergency incidents through the 24-hour dispatch center at 425-577-5656 or submit a crime tip through our online form. Residents can also get involved in crime prevention by partnering with MIPD’s Neighborhood Watch program. Visit the City’s crime prevention page for more information or contact Officer Jennifer Franklin to get involved.
Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) offers resources and programs to address drug and alcohol use by youth. The department provides a broad range of multigenerational human and community services that support the wellness and human service needs of all Mercer Islanders. If you are interested in learning more about the services and programs of MIYFS, visit the Youth and Family Services page.
The City is also a member of ARCH (A Regional Coalition of Housing), which is a partnership of King County and East King County Cities who have joined together to assist with preserving and increasing the supply of housing for low– and moderate-income households in the region. More information is available at www.archhousing.org.
Posted: June 20, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY – Dead Trees along I-90 barrier wall
Q: Is the City aware of all of the dead trees along the north wall of I-90 from Shorewood Drive to Aubrey Davis Park?
A: The City is aware of these trees and have been keeping an eye on them. They were planted close the concrete barrier over 30 years ago and some are not faring as well as others have. They will be removed later in the summer and early fall when regular park maintenance slows down and more staff can be dedicated to the project.
Posted: June 19, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY
Q: Why are construction vehicles parked in the lots under I-90 at Aubrey Davis Park (facing Seattle) and at the Boat Launch (facing Bellevue)?
A: The City of Mercer Island has an agreement with Sound Transit to allow their light rail contractors working on the light rail project to park in these parking lots during construction. However, the stalls on the north end of the parking lot at Aubrey Davis Park (facing Seattle) and 44 stalls at the front of Boat Launch (facing Bellevue) should be open and available for the public. City staff have spoken with the general contractor and Sound Transit staff to reinforce the agreement. City staff will also monitor the area from time to time to ensure compliance.
Posted: June 15, 2018
Q&A OF THE DAY
Q: Is the police department (MIPD) aware of the camp on the West Mercer off-ramp? If a homeless camp is identified in one of our parks, what are the protocols for handling this?
A: Yes, MIPD is aware of the camp in the park by the West Mercer off-ramp. Since the tent is located on WSDOT right-of-way, MIPD is coordinating with WSDOT and Parks Maintenance staff for its removal. WSDOT advised that they are going to remove the camp next week.
These are the procedures for removing homeless camps in MI parks: MIPD will post notice of the violation (illegal camping) and allow the occupants time to remove personal property. After the specified time, the tent/property and other items left behind are removed from the location. MIPD temporarily stores any items deemed to be personal property in case they are claimed.
Posted: June 15, 2018