CITY OF SEATTLE
DEPARTMENT OF CONSTRUCTION AND LAND USE
Clarification of State
Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Historic Preservation Policy for potential
archaeologically significant sites and requirements for archeological assessments.
|Code and Section Reference
25.05.675 H, SMC
||Type of Rule:
The purpose of this rule is to further elaborate on the SEPA Historic Preservation
Policy 25.05.675 H 2.e for evaluation and mitigation on sites of potential archeological
significance. The intent of this rule is to clarify how the Historic Preservation Policy
would apply to such sites and describes when and how an assessment of archaeological
resources should be conducted.
The Seattle Ordinance which implements the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA),
Chapter 25.05, Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) authorizes the Department of Construction and
Land Use (DPD) to grant, condition or deny construction and use permit applications for
public or private proposals which are subject to environmental review. This authority must
be exercised based on adopted City policies, plans, rules or regulations set forth in
Chapter 25.05, SMC.
Many of Seattles existing and former shoreline areas may be sites of potential
archaeological significance due to settlement patterns of Native Americans and early
European settlements along Puget Sound. Archeological sites and their resources may be
directly or indirectly threatened by development or redevelopment projects and the SEPA
policy provides the opportunity for analysis of these sites. Areas where sites or
resources of potential archaeological significance could be found include freshwater and
saltwater confluences, areas with low bank saltwater access, terraces of rivers and
creeks, river confluence areas, and historical sources of certain kinds of geological
formations. Additionally, there is a the possibility that new resources may be discovered
during construction in areas not noted above.
Archeologically significant resources present a unique problem because protection of
their integrity may, in some cases, eliminate or impact economic opportunities on the
site. Additionally, it would be unreasonable to require archaeological assessments on all
projects located in areas with the characteristics described above. However, it is
possible to provide some guidance by using historical information, literature and maps.
Such records indicate known and potential settlements, and historical maps indicate the
pre-urban shorelines. The US Government Meander line provides an indication of where the
saltwater shoreline existed prior to recent fill or alteration. It is likely that one
would find most potential archeologically significant resources located within 200 feet of
this meander line.
The Seattle Land Use Code does not define a potential archaeologically significant
resource nor a professional archaeologist, so the definitions for those terms in the
Washington Administrative Code (WAC 25-48-020 (10), and WAC 25-48-020(4),
respectively)will be used. These definitions are found at the end of this rule.
The SEPA language addressing archeologically significant resources reads:
a. It is the City's policy to maintain and preserve significant historic sites and
structures and to provide the opportunity for analysis of archaeological sites. (SMC
e. On sites with potential archeological significance, the decisionmaker may require an
assessment of the archaeological potential of the site. Subject to the criteria of the
Overview Policy set forth in SMC Section 23.05. 665, mitigating measures which may be
required to mitigate adverse impact to an archeological site include, but are not limited
- Relocation of the project on the site:
- Providing markers, plaques, or recognition of discovery;
- Imposing a delay of as much as ninety (90)days (or more than ninety (90) days for
extraordinary circumstances) to allow archaeological artifacts and information to be
- excavation and recovery of artifacts (SMC 25.05.675 H.2e).
In order to implement the intent of the above SEPA language, an assessment of the
sites probable archaeological significance will be required for any proposal which
includes excavation located within 200 feet of the US Government Meander line or in other
areas where information suggests the potential for archeologically significant resources.
The US Government Meander line is mapped on the City's Geographic Information System
(GIS). When a project subject to environmental review is proposed in these locations, the
following steps shall be taken pursuant to SMC 25.05.675 H.
During Review of the Master Use Permit:
For any projects located within 200 feet of the US Government Meander line or in other
areas where information, for example on previous development permits, suggests potential
for archeologically significant resources, DPD shall determine the adequacy of the
information provided in the SEPA checklist (Section B 13). This determination shall be
based on sufficient references to support the conclusions and DPD may ask for additional
information when appropriate. The following information, at a minimum, shall be provided
in the SEPA checklist:
- Proposed level of excavation and its relationship to the historical substrata.
- Results of research of relevant literature on the site and environs. Appropriate
literature citations shall be provided using the attached bibliography and/or other
appropriate resources as reference.
- Results of conversations or copies of written correspondence with the Washington State
Archaeologist at the State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) (address
and phone at end of Directors Rule) to determine whether the site is a known
archaeologically significant site.
If the required research does not identify the probable presence on the site of
archaeologically significant sites or resources, SECTION A of this Rule
shall be followed. If the research suggests probable presence of archeologically
significant resources, SECTION B of this Rule shall be followed.
SECTION A If the research does not identify the probable presence of
archeologically significant resources:
The Director's decision shall summarize the results of the research. In this category
of applications, the Department is likely to find that impacts to such resources are
non-significant. Even though research has not indicated the potential for archaeologically
significant resources on the site, there still may be some potential for unknown resources
to be discovered if the proposal site is located in an area characteristically similar to
those where known resources do exist. Thus, in order to ensure that no adverse impact
occur to an inadvertently discovered archaeologically significant resource, the following
conditions of permit approval shall be applied to the project to provide mitigation.
Prior to Issuance of Master Use Permits:
- The owner and/or responsible parties shall provide DPD with a statement that the
contract documents for their general, excavation, and other subcontractors will include
reference to regulations regarding archaeological resources (Chapters 27.34, 26.53, 27.44,
79.01, and 79.90 RCW, and Chapter 25.48 WAC as applicable) and that construction crews
will be required to comply with those regulations.
- If resources of potential archaeological significance are encountered during
construction or excavation, the owner and/or responsible parties shall:
- Stop work immediately and notify DPD (Planner name and phone #) and the Washington
State Archaeologist at the State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP).
The procedures outlined in Appendix A of Directors Rule 2-98 for assessment and/or
protection of potentially significant archeological resources shall be followed.
- Abide by all regulations pertaining to discovery and excavation of archaeological
resources, including but not limited to Chapters 27.34, 27.53, 27.44, 79.01 and 79.90 RCW
and Chapter 25.48 WAC, as applicable, or their successors.
SECTION B If the research suggests the probable presence of archaeologically
significant resources on the site:
During Master Use Permit review, the planner shall review the results of the research
to determine further action. If further assessment is needed, one or more of the following
actions may be taken during review of the application or required as a condition of the
permit approval. Additionally, the permit conditions in Section A shall be added to the
- A site reconnaissance by a professional archaeologist may be required.
- On-site testing, if recommended by a professional archaeologist may be required.
- A mitigation plan prepared by a professional archaeologist may be required.
- A condition may be added to the permit approval which would require that an
archaeologist be on site to monitor the excavation.
- A Determination of Significance may be made and an Environmental Impact Statement
SEPA states that the protection of States heritage resources are important to the
retention of a living sense and appreciation of the past. Seattles SEPA ordinance is
a basis for local authority for evaluation and possible mitigation of the impacts of
development proposals within the City limits. The reason for clarifying this section of
the SEPA ordinance is to ensure that correct measures are taken to identify and analyze
potential or known resources, and to make provisions to protect these resources pursuant
to State and Federal laws referenced in this rule. Additionally, clear procedures will
alert developers to the possibility that discovery of potential archeologically
significant resources may impact their project schedules and costs. Requiring research on
projects sites within 200 feet of the US Government Meander line and locations where
information suggests the probability of potential archaeologically significant resources
should ensure analysis of these significant resources.
City of Seattle and Washington State Officials:
For information on Archeological Resources:
Rob Whitlam, State Archaeologist
Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development
Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
111 21st Avenue S.W.
P.O. Box 48343
Olympia, Washington 98504-8343
360 / 407-0771
For information on Historic Structures:
Karen Gordon, City Historic Preservation Officer
City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods,
Urban Conservation Division
700 Third Avenue, 4th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104, 206 / 684-0228.
"Archaeological resource" means any material remains of human life or
activities which are of archaeological interest. This shall include all sites, objects,
structures, artifacts, implements, and location of prehistoric or archaeological interest,
whether previously recorded or still unrecognized, including, but not limited to those
pertaining to prehistoric and historic American Indian or aboriginal burials, campsites,
dwellings, and their habitation sites, include rock shelters and caves, their artifacts
and implements of culture such as projectile points, arrowheads, skeletal remains, grave
goods, basketry, pestles, mauls, and grinding stones, knives, scrapers, rock carvings and
paintings, and other implements and artifacts of any material.". WAC 25-48-020
"Professional archaeologist" means a person has designed and executed an
archaeological study as evidenced by a thesis or dissertation, and has been awarded an
advanced degree such as an M.A., M.S., or Ph.D., from an accredited institution of higher
education in archaeology, anthropology, or history or other germane discipline with a
specialization in archaeology; has a minimum of one year of field experience with at least
twenty-four weeks of field work under the supervision of a professional archeologist
including no less than twelve weeks of survey or reconnaissance work, and at least eight
weeks of supervised laboratory experience. Twenty weeks of field work in a supervisory
capacity must be documentable with a report produced by the individual on the field work.
BIBLIOGRAPHY and REFERENCES:
The Washington State Historical Society (253/ 272- 9747) maintains a web site
(http://www.wshs.org) with links to other resources. The magazine Archaeology is
available at most libraries and newsstands. Current topics and recent discoveries in
archaeology can be found in the National Geographic
(http://www.nationalgeographic.com), Natural History (http://www.amnh.org) ,
Smithsonian http://www.smithsonianmag.com) , or Scientific American (http://www.sciam.com),
The New York Times (http://www,nytimes.com), Science section each Tuesday
frequently has articles of archaeological interest and the latest discoveries.
Seattle Area historical resources can be found at the following locations:
- City of Seattle Municipal Archives: The most heavily used records are housed in the City
Clerk's office, including the records of City Council, the Mayor, the Pike Place Market
Urban Renewal, and the photography of the Engineering Department, Parks Department, Water
Department, and Seattle City Light. Additionally, under the terms of an interlocal
agreement, a large body of City records are housed at the Puget Sound Branch of the
Washington State Archives. Prior to creation of the Municipal Archives, some City records
were collected and are still maintained by the University of Washington Archives and
- University of Washington, Pacific Northwest collection, Allen Library; and at the
- The Seattle Public Library, general collection and reference
- Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, Seattle
- Local Historical Societies
1929 History of King County, Vols. 1 and 3. S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Barnosky, Cathy W., Patricia M. Anderson, and Patrick J. Bartlein
1987 The Northwestern US During Deglaciation: Vegetational History and Paleoclimatic
Implications. In "North America and Adjacent Oceans During the last
Deglaciation", Vol. K-3, edited by W.F. Ruddiman and H.E.Wright, Jr., pp 289-321.
Geological Society of America, Boulder.
Bass, Sophie Fry
1937 Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle. Binfords and Mort, Portland, Oregon
1986 Seattle in the 1880s. The Historical Society of King County and Seattle,
Costello, James A.
1974  The Siwash: Their Life tales and Legends and of Puget Sound and Pacific
Northwest, the Calvert Company, Seattle
Denny, Arthur A.
1888 Pioneer Days on Puget Sound. C.B. Bagley, Printer, Seattle
Denny, Emily Inez
1901 Blazing the way: True Stories, Songs and Sketches of Puget Sound and other
Pioneers. Rainier Printing Company, Seattle
1984 Seattle, Now and Then. Tartu Publications, Seattle.
1986 Seattle, Now and Then, Vol.II. Tartu Publications, Seattle.
1989 Seattle, Now and Then, Vol.III. Tartu Publications, Seattle.
1983 The Coast of Puget Sound, Its Processes and Development. University of
Washington Press, Seattle.
Duwamish et al. "Tribes of Indians v. The United States of America"
1933 Testimony before the Court of Claims of the United States. Proceedings of the
Indian Court of Claims, No. F-275.
Galster Richard W, and William T. Laprade
1991 "Geology of Seattle, Washington, United States of America". Bulletin
of the Association of Engineering Geologists 28 (3):235-302.
Harrington, John P.
ca. 1909 John P. Harrington Papers. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian
Institution, on microfilm at Suzzallo Library, University of Washington, Seattle.
1987 Indian Fisheries in Elliott Bay in the Nineteenth Century. Preliminary
report. On file a the Muckleshoot Tribe, Auburn, Washington
1978 "Archaeological survey of Petroglyph And Pictograph Sites in the State of
Washington". The Evergreen State College, Archaeological Reports of Investigations No
Mierendorf, Robert R.
1986 "Peoples of the North Cascades". National Park Service, Pacific
Northwest Region. Seattle.
Morse, Roy W.
1989 "Regarding Years in Seattle". Washington Division of Geology and
Earth Resources Bulletin 78 Vol II, pp.691-702.
Nyberg, Folke and Victor Steinbrueck
1975 "Denny Regrade: An Inventory of Building and Urban Design Resources". Historic
Seattle Preservation and Development Authority, Seattle.
1954 "Old Indian Village Sites of Seattle and Vicinity". The Seattle Times,
10 January: 10
1993 "Queen Anne, Community on the Hill". Queen Anne Historical Society,
Robertson, Donald B.
1995 Encyclopedia of western Railroad History, Vol. III. The Caxton Printers,
1976 Seattle Past to Present. The University of Washington Press, Seattle
1988 "Suquamish Ethnographic Notes". An unpublished collection of field notes
edited by Dr. Jay Miller. On File at the Suquamish Tribal Archives, Suquamish, Washington.
1975 Indian Artifacts of the Northwest Coast. University of Washington Press
1930 Mountain Moving in Seattle Reprinted. Harvard Business Review
Thorson, Robert M.
1980 "Ice-Sheet Glaciation of the Puget Lowland, Washington, During the Vashon
Stade (Late Pleistocene)". Quaternary Research 13:303-321
ca.1920 "Puget Sound Geography", Unpublished manuscript on file Pacific
Northwest collection, Allen Library , University of Washington, Seattle.
1922 "Geographic Names Used by Indians of the Pacific Coast". Geographical
Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
1989 Built in Washington: 12,000 years of Pacific Northwest Archaeological Sites and
Historic Buildings. Washington State University Press.
Watt, Roberta Frye
1931 Four Wagons West, the Story of Seattle. Binfords and Mort, Publishers,
Current and Historical Map References
Bortelson, G.C., M.J. Chrzastowski, and A.K. Helgerson
1980 Historical Changes of Shoreline and Wetland at Duwamish River and Elliott Bay
Washington. Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, Hydrologic Investigations
Atlas HA-617, Sheet 7. Interior-Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. 1980-L79387
Sandborn Map Company - Available on Microfilm at Seattle Public Library and University
1888 Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. Sandborn Map Company, New York.
1904 Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. Sandborn Map Company, New York.
1941 Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. Sandborn Map Company, New York.
Sandborn-Perris Map Company
1893 Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. Sandborn -Perris Map Company, New
United States Surveyor General
1856 "General Land Office Survey Notes", Washington State Department of
Natural Resources, Olympia.
Procedures to follow for assessment and/or protection of potentially significant
archaeological resources discovered during construction or excavation:
- If resources of potential archaeological significance are encountered during
construction or excavation, the owner and/or responsible party shall stop work immediately
and notify DPD and the Washington State Archaeologist at the State Office of Archaeology
and Historic Preservation (OAHP). Responsible parties shall abide by all regulations
pertaining to discovery and excavation of archaeological resources, including but not
limited to Chapters 27.34, 27.53, 27.44, 79.01 and 79.90 RCW and Chapter 25.48 WAC, as
applicable, or their successors.
- Once DPD and the State Office have been notified:
- The owner and/or responsible party shall hold a meeting on site with DPD and a
professional archaeologist. Representatives of Federally recognized Tribes and the Native
American community that may consider the site to be of historical or cultural significance
shall be invited to attend. After this consultation , the archaeologist shall determine
the scope of, and prepare, a mitigation plan. The plan shall be submitted for approval to
the State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP), and to DPD to ensure
that it provide reasonable mitigation for the anticipated impacts to the resources
discovered on the construction site.
- The plan shall, at a minimum, address methods of site investigation, provide for
recovery, documentation and disposition of possible resources, and provide excavation
monitoring by a professional archaeologist. The plan should also provide for
conformance with State and Federal regulations for excavation of archaeologically
- Work only shall resume on the affected areas of the site once an approved permit for
Archeological Excavation and Removal is obtained from the OAHP. Work may then proceed in
compliance with the approved plan.