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Shoreline Master Program Update

Our Shoreline Master Program has rules about public access and environmental restoration.
An update of goals, policies and regulations that govern land use and activities within the Seattle Shoreline District.

What's Happening Now?

The Washington Department of Ecology's public comment period on the January 2013 updates to the City of Seattle's Shoreline Master Program closed on November 4, 2013. We provided the Department of Ecology with a response to those comments.

To view the comments and responses please see the Department of Ecology’s website

Next Steps 

  • The Department of Ecology will review Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program regarding the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act and the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines.
  • The Department of Ecology will then decide whether to 1) approve the program as is or with recommended changes, or 2) send the proposed program back to the city with required changes to meet statutory and rule requirements. Recommended changes may also be included with the required changes.

If you have questions for the Department of Ecology regarding this process please contact:

Joe Burcar
(425) 649-7145

Washington Department of Ecology
Northwest Regional Office
Attn: Joe Burcar SEA-Program
3190 - 160th Ave. SE
Bellevue, WA 98008

Project Goals

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is mandated by the state Shoreline Management Act (SMA), created by citizen referendum in 1972, and includes the goals, policies, and regulations that govern land use and activities within the Seattle Shoreline District. Seattle’s Shoreline District includes the Duwamish River, the Ship Canal, Lake Union, Lake Washington, Green Lake, Puget Sound, associated wetlands and floodplains, and all land within 200 feet of these water-bodies.

Seattle’s SMP is based on three required policy goals:

  1. Preferred Shoreline Uses: The SMA establishes a preference for uses that are water-oriented and that are appropriate for the environmental context (such as port facilities, shoreline recreational uses, and water-dependent businesses). Single-family residences are also identified as a priority use under the SMA when developed in a manner consistent with protection of the natural environment
  2. Environmental Protection: The SMA requires protections for shoreline natural resources, including “… the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the water of the state and their aquatic life …” to ensure no net loss of ecological function.
  3. Public Access: The SMA promotes public access to shorelines by mandating inclusion of a public access element in local Shoreline Master Programs and requiring provisions to ensure that new development maintains public access features.

Dept. of Ecology Shoreline Master Programs Frequently Asked Questions

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