Two Trees Down, Five Houses Up

The Mercer Island Reporter today wrote about the destruction of two redwood trees at SE 30th St. and Island Crest Way (“Redwood trees removed for new five-home subdivision.” My reaction was, Not more houses. Isn’t building limited on Mercer Island? Like many of us, my fiancé andI moved here in part because we liked the big yards, wild ravines and tall trees.

The Puget Sound area is growing, and people need houses to live in. I live in a house, so I won’t tell others not to live in a house. And like many of us who have seen lovely wooded hillsides disappear under grids of too-close generic homes, I prefer that we better use existing urban space and avoid sprawl.

Back to the subdivision. Here’s the area in question:

Map of new Mercer Island subdivision

Well, this is private property, and the owner has the right to sell it or subdivide it.

But what are the rules for building and subdividing? The authoritative source,

the Mercer Island Comprehensive Plan, City Of Mercer Island Logo says this:

  • “Mercer Island is principally a low density, single-family residential community.” Ok, as expected.
  • “Interspersed among the older homes are renovated homes and new homes that are often noticeably larger. ” No kidding. Mercer Island has its share of aesthetically-challenged Eastside mansions.
  • “Approximately 95% of all residential land on Mercer Island is currently developed.” Ok, the Island’s developed, and not getting any bigger. Then what about subdivisions?
  • “The City of Mercer Island has the capacity for 2,271 additional housing units on properties designated for residential uses through new development on vacant lands and/or through redevelopment of underutilized lands.” More than I expected.
  • “The City expects an average of roughly six subdivisions a year, the majority of which will be short plats of four or fewer lots.”

So we’ll continue to see subdivisions, which I think is ok as long we honor this, from the same plan: “Many residential areas of Mercer Island are characterized by large mature tree cover. Preservation of this greenery is an important community value.” Yeah, I like the trees too.

Mercer Island Fall by stvn0603 on Flickr Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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3 responses to “Two Trees Down, Five Houses Up

  1. It’s also interestng that, in spite of the new houses, the total population of Mercer Island hasn’t changed since the 1950’s. I’d like to see an analysis that explains how that can be. Is it because families are getting smaller (fewer people per house)? Or is it something else, like fewer apartment dwellers?

  2. Pingback: 850 Homes Left « Surrounded By Water: A Mercer Island Blog

  3. mercerislandblogger

    I’d bet it’s smaller families, as well as more people living singly or in a couple with no children.

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