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Environmentally Critical Areas Update

An environmentally critical area in Mathews Beach.
Reviewing and updating our environmentally critical areas code to ensure we follow current best practices and state rules.

What's Happening Now?

We periodically review and update our comprehensive plan policies and regulations for environmentally critical areas (ECA) based on the requirements in Washington State’s 1990 Growth Management Act (GMA). The GMA requires the largest and fastest growing counties and their cities to prepare comprehensive plans and development regulations. As part of the Act’s 14 goals, comprehensive plans and regulations must protect critical areas, such as wetlands and landslide-prone areas.

State law requires the updates to our ECA policies and regulations to include the "best available science" in considering policies and regulations to protect the functions and values of critical areas. Our ECA policies and regulations must give "special consideration" to measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fisheries (see RCW 36.70A.172 and WAC 365-195 Sections 900 through 925).

We are beginning to review and update Seattle’s ECA policies and regulations to make sure they still comply with the Growth Management Act, to identify and correct any inconsistencies, and to improve their effectiveness. We will also review best available science and update our policies and regulations considering any new information. We are required by Washington State to review and revise our ECA policies and regulations by June 30, 2015 (RCW 36.70A.130 and WAC 365-196-610).

Project Benefits

By updating our ECA policies and regulations to improve their effectiveness and to include updated best available science, we can better protect our critical areas and manage development in areas that are hazardous to build on. We can also enhance the urban environment by protecting wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, riparian corridors, and other ecological resources. The health of these areas is an important indicator of the overall health and well-being of our city.

The End Result

Our updated ECA policies and regulations will continue to comply with the Growth Management Act and include current best available science.

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