Help the larger cause · Justicia para Moisés Sánchez · (2024)

Petition to Maintain the Mercer Island Planning Commission

We, the undersigned, are sponsoring this petition to oppose an ordinance currently under City Council consideration that would severely reduce citizen input on the Planning Commission. We believe in supporting a citizens’ Commission that reflects the diverse backgrounds and viewpoints of our community.

Current and former Chairpersons of the Mercer Island Planning Commission sponsoring this petition: Michael Murphy, Tiffin Goodman, Dan Hubbell, Suzanne Skone, Richard Weinman, Don Cohen, Steve Bryan, Jon Friedman, Peter Orser, Bill Chapman

Time is of the essence! Your support is crucial in persuading the Council to preserve citizen input on the Planning Commission. Please sign the petition now and encourage your friends to join in making their voices heard. Share this petition on social media to gather a substantial number of signatures. The signed petition will be presented to the Council before the May 7, 2024 meeting when the decision on this matter will be made. Please sign at

Petition to the Mercer Island City Council

We, the residents of Mercer Island, respectfully urge the City Council NOT adopt Ordinance No. 24C-06, which proposes amendments to Chapter 3.46 of the Mercer Island City Code. This ordinance seeks to restructure the Planning Commission, reducing its membership from seven to five members, with three of them being paid land-use professionals at $500 per meeting. One of the compensated professionals could be a Mercer Island resident, while the other two must be non-residents. Additionally, two unpaid residents of Mercer Island would be appointed.

We oppose this ordinance because it undermines the core purpose of the Planning Commission, which is to provide a platform for residents to review and offer input on proposals to the Council, including amendments to the comprehensive plan and development regulations. This ordinance would diminish the diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, which is vital to the strength of the Commission. The value of the Commission lies in receiving detailed input from residents who will be directly impacted by the regulations. All residents of Mercer Island would be poorly served by this ordinance.

Commissioners should remain volunteers appointed to represent the diverse backgrounds and views of Mercer Island residents, as stipulated in the current code. Commissioners should not be paid since the Commission does not provide professional consulting services; input based on land use expertise is the responsibility of City staff. There is no need to pay for professional expertise twice.

While a few cities in the region offer token payment to cover incidental costs, no other cities in the Puget Sound region pay Planning Commissioners for professional input. The ordinance is clearly out of step with the principle of citizen engagement in government and would make Mercer Island an extreme outlier in this regard.

Rather than requiring two non-resident members, all Commissioners should be residents of Mercer Island. Residents are in touch with the values and priorities of our community. The Commission should continue to be comprised of seven individuals. Seven members allows for inevitable absences, enabling a reasonable number for a quorum to do business. As proposed, a quorum of three could allow two paid professional commissioners who do not live on Mercer Island to dominate the vote.

Instead of adopting this ordinance, we recommend that the Council and City Manager carefully assess staffing needs and time expenditure in the planning department and take appropriate measures. Direct communication between the Council, the Planning Commission Chair, and staff should be facilitated to address any concerns and ensure optimal outcomes. Collaboration between the planning staff and Planning Commission should focus on minimizing time expenditure for both staff and Commissioners.

End of Petition

Please sign at


Background Information:

The proposal to reduce citizen input was purportedly to allow planning staff to spend less time informing Commissioners about land use topics. Concern was expressed about a heavy work load in the planning department. No rationale was provided for the requirement that two Commissioners must not be Mercer Island residents.

There was no evidence presented to the Council indicating that staff has spent excessive time working with the Commission. The average number of meetings over the past two years has been twelve, half the number allowed pre-pandemic. The Council has not sought input from the Commission Chair on ways to reduce staff preparation time.

Alternatives that would not reduce residents’ input were not discussed. Replacing residents on the Commission with paid professionals is unlikely to save time, as information sharing, meetings, and decision-making would still be necessary.

If there is an issue, it likely lies within the level of staffing in the planning department itself. The staff is experiencing a substantial and predictable workload due to the required 8-year update of the comprehensive plan and recent legislation on housing. All other cities are experiencing the same increase in workload at this time.

The planning department should prepare for increases in work load by providing sufficient staffing. A short-sighted reduction in citizen input to government is not the answer.

Help the larger cause · Justicia para Moisés Sánchez · (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Reed Wilderman

Last Updated:

Views: 6214

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Reed Wilderman

Birthday: 1992-06-14

Address: 998 Estell Village, Lake Oscarberg, SD 48713-6877

Phone: +21813267449721

Job: Technology Engineer

Hobby: Swimming, Do it yourself, Beekeeping, Lapidary, Cosplaying, Hiking, Graffiti

Introduction: My name is Reed Wilderman, I am a faithful, bright, lucky, adventurous, lively, rich, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.