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9611 SE 36th Street
Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: 206.275.7793
Email: council@mercergov.. . .
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City of Mercer Island / City Council / Vision Statement

Mercer Island's Vision Statement


The Growth Management Act, Vision 2020, Destination 2030 and related policies have ushered in a wide range of new planning options, challenges and opportunities. Like other jurisdictions throughout the region, Mercer Island must periodically engage in a comprehensive review of its policies and their relationship to state and regional planning mandates. This process provides the opportunity to identify and reaffirm the community’s long held values. It also offers a forum for policies to be updated and assimilated to function as a whole.
A Vision Statement is an essential ingredient in successful comprehensive community policy planning.

Essentially, the statement should reaffirm time-tested policies or values that are generally held as positive “community trademarks” and identify others deemed relevant. Moreover, a Vision Statement should be a reflection of community aspirations. Through periodic review and refinement, it is intended to set parameters for future community activities.

The following Vision Statement is essentially the compilation of several long standing policies embodied in several existing planning documents including the Land Use Plan, Town Center Plan, Park and Open Space Plan, and the Arts and Culture Plan. Reexamining these policies implies a reexamination of the City’s overall policy base.

This Vision Statement should satisfy (at least) the following three purposes:

  1. City Boards, Commissions and Staff will use the Council’s explicit guidance in determining the priority and degree of evaluation of existing elements in the City’s Growth Management Act Policy & Planning Work Plan;
  2. City employees will be guided in the provision of quality municipal services;
  3. Most importantly, the Council, its advisory bodies and the community-as-a-whole will proceed with a common understanding of the quality of life values or themes that will shape our community for years to come.

“Islands can seem rather special, but then so can islanders...most people who remove themselves to islands regard themselves as having entered paradise.... Classically, a person goes to an island in much the same spirit as a person heads into exile--seeking simplicity, glorying in a world that is still incomplete and therefore full of possibilities.”   ~ Paul Theroux

Community Values

Mercer Island is not an island unto itself. The community is part of a regional complex that affords housing, human services, jobs, transportation, cultural and recreational opportunities. As a partner in the ever changing world of environment, economics and politics, Mercer Island has and will continue to be an active player in regional issues. However, within this framework, Mercer Island will continue to maintain local control of all significant policy issues. Likewise, active community participation and leadership are fundamental for protecting and enhancing the values and characteristics that have shaped the quality of life and livability of Mercer Island.

In relative terms, Mercer Island is a young community. However, the City adheres to a collection of intrinsic values and has a desire to shape its own future as well as be an effective regional partner. While values can change over time, they do provide the basic foundation for a host of community actions and generally reflect the “heart and soul” of the community. The values listed below are among the community’s most important and therefore deserve special attention.

Residential Community
Mercer Island is principally a single-family residential community, supported by healthy schools, religious institutions and recreational clubs.
Quality Municipal Services
Mercer Islanders need and expect safety, efficiency and continuously improving municipal services.
Fiscal responsibility
Mercer Islanders expect fiscal responsibility from their municipal services in light of limited resources and heightened competition for revenues.
Education is the Key
The community and its public and private institutions are committed to provide excellence in education.
Livability is Paramount
Our community’s values are reflected by safety and freedom from fear, physical and environmental attributes, and the cultural and recreational opportunities of our Island. This translates into the feeling that Mercer Island is “the nicest of places for everyone to live.”
Cherish The Environment
Island residents see themselves as “stewards” of the island environment. In considering community decisions, protection and enhancement of trees, open spaces, clean water and air, neighborhood quiet and environmentally sensitive lands will be given high priority.
Sustainable Community
Mercer Island strives to be a sustainable community: Meeting the needs of the present while preserving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. We consider the relationship between the decisions we make as a community and their long-term impacts before committing to them. We understand that our strength is dependent on an open and transparent decision-making process that takes into account the economic, environmental and social well-being of our community.

How the Values Are Manifested

Values often are characterized by specific actions or combinations of actions. Over time these actions become local community trademarks that have a profound influence in shaping a wide range of private and public decisions. Specific actions that will continue to exemplify Mercer Island’s values include:

Regional Role


Quality Services



  • The community clearly links its interests in regional matters through involvement in transportation, education, human services, domestic water, air traffic noise, marine patrol, public health and safety, and pollution abatement. Participation will continue through individual citizens, interest groups and elected officials.

Community Leadership



Strong Leadership

Citizen Involvement

  • Mercer Island is committed to representing its citizens through its elected and appointed officials. A longtime producer of resourceful and professional leaders, Mercer Islanders will continue to exert strong and active leadership in local and regional affairs.
  • Active participation by the Island’s citizens in civic events and issues is essential to representative self-government. As one of its “trademarks”, the community continues to place a high value on the opportunity to participate at all levels of decision-making.





“Green Equity”

Destiny Control

Citizen Involvement

  • The City is committed to implementing policies aimed at preserving and enhancing the Island’s physical characteristics. Regulatory tools such as the Zoning Code, Subdivision Ordinance, Critical Lands Regulations, Shoreline Master Program, Tree Ordinance and Design Standards continue to serve as the underpinning for protection of environmental values.
  • The preservation of open space (trees and green spaces) continues to be a primary means to attain the community’s quality-of-life vision. The implementation of low impact development techniques also preserves the natural environment. City leaders will continue to search for effective new methods and standards to protect and enhance the environment.

Town Center


Community Scale



Quality Service

  • The Town Center will continue to be located within its current boundaries and will be bordered by residential uses. Mixed-use development that includes residential units shall be encouraged within this zone. Businesses should continue to develop at a scale compatible with other community values and should provide a range of retail, office and residential opportunities. The community-scaled business district will primarily cater to the needs and desires of Island residents and employees.
  • Ongoing attention to urban design principles, pedestrian needs, traffic considerations and green spaces is essential.

Community Services


Pride & Spirit

Excellence in Education

Recreational & Cultural

  • Mercer Island will continue to provide a wide range of education, cultural and municipal services for the community’s varied population. Balanced and flexible programs will be necessary to meet the community’s evolving needs in education, recreation and cultural enjoyment. The community will maintain its broad range of quality basic services, including public safety, human services, physical development and utilities. At the same time, community leaders recognize that delivery of these services will take place in an arena of limited resources and heightened competition for tax revenues.

Residential Land Use






Citizen Involvement

Neighborhood Pride

  • Mercer Island is principally a low density, single-family residential community. The community will continue to seek ways to enhance its image as Puget Sound’s “most livable residential community.” Supporting these efforts, City leaders will maintain the integrity of existing approved land use policies.
  • The community, through its ongoing consideration of public and private projects, will continue to seek ways of enhancing the Island’s quality of life through open space preservation, pedestrian trails and well-designed and functional public and semi-public facilities.
  • As a single-family residential community with a high percentage of developed land, it is not necessarily appropriate that the community provide all types of lands uses. Certain activities will be viewed as incompatible with prevalent land uses and environmental values. Examples include certain recreational uses, cemeteries, zoos, airports, landfills and correctional facilities.
  • Civic, recreation, education and religious organizations are important and integral elements of the community character and fabric. Their contribution and importance to the established community character should be reflected and respected in land use permit processes.




Pride & Spirit

Housing Opportunities

  • The single-family character of the community will continue to generate the need for a variety of housing. A mix of residential housing opportunities in and around the Town Center and other existing multi-family areas will be an important element in maintaining the diversity of the Island’s population.
  • To understand and preserve the quality and diversity of the Island’s housing stock, periodic reviews of housing policies will be undertaken. With that end in mind, methods will be sought to encourage diversity and reinvestment in existing neighborhoods and homes.



Regionally Linked




  • The geography, employment and lifestyle characteristics of Mercer Island demands good permanent access to and from Interstate 90. This will require continued participation in regional transportation matters.
  • Local land use policies will be coordinated with transportation plans in order to provide safe, functional surfaces for vehicles, bikes and pedestrians while avoiding local “gridlock.” Local transportation planning will continue to emphasize a semi-rural setting for various arterial and collector streets. Pedestrian walks linking activities will continue to be a high community priority.



Pride & Spirit

Excellence in Youth

Housing Opportunities

Recreational &
Cultural Services

  • As with virtually all facets of the community fabric, population changes will occur. Mercer Islanders can expect to see their population grow from 23,310 in 2014 to an estimated (PSRC, approximate) 25,243 persons by 2030.
  • Within that population base, the Island will see changes in age profiles, along with their respective needs and expectations for municipal services. The provision of human services and facilities must be updated from time to time to address changes in the community’s racial, age, income and lifestyle make-up. This diversification will continue to be encouraged. The standard for providing excellent services for the Island’s youth will be applied to all public services and across all ages.


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