Shoreline Master Program Code Update

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Project Outcomes

City Council gave final approval of the Seattle Shoreline Master Program (SMP) on March 23, 2015 and the Mayor signed the legislation. The Department of Ecology approved the City’s SMP on June 1, 2015, and it took effect on June 15, 2015 (see new shoreline code (Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 23.60A).

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) update was mandated by the State's Shoreline Management Act, which establishes the rules and regulations that govern land use and activities within the Seattle Shoreline District. Seattle’s Shoreline District includes the following water-bodies: the Duwamish River, the Ship Canal, Lake Union, Lake Washington, Green Lake, and Puget Sound; their associated wetlands and floodplains; and all land within 200 feet of these water-bodies. Seattle DCI (formerly DPD) began the update of Seattle’s SMP in 2007.

The Shoreline Management Act established 3 major policy goals to be achieved through the regulations:

  • Provide for water-dependent uses on shoreline parcels and provide for single-family residential development
  • Protect and restore the shoreline ecological conditions
  • Provide public access for public enjoyment of the shorelines

The components of the SMP update were:

  1. Shoreline Inventory and Ecological Characterization Report
  2. Development and implementation of a public participation plan, included the Citizen Advisory Committee
  3. Shoreline Policy Development for the City’s Comprehensive Plan
  4. Regulations
  5. Cumulative Impact Analysis on regulations to demonstrate that regulations meet no net loss of ecological functions
  6. Restoration Plan – non-regulatory – build on existing salmon recovery planning efforts, City department capital improvement projects, and other public agency work that restores ecological functions along the shorelines

The Shoreline Master Program:

  • Requires no net loss of ecological functions through the regulations
  • Regulates environmentally critical areas located in the Shoreline District
  • Requires that non-water-oriented uses, when allowed on waterfront lots, include ecological restoration to meet the goals of the Shoreline Management Act
  • Requires that non-conforming uses and structures, when allowed to be replaced, include ecological restoration to meet the goals of the Shoreline Management Act
  • Includes shoreline buffers for all shoreline environments based on the purpose of the shoreline environment and its ecological conditions
  • Adds a new section for small lots that allows for water-dependent or water-related uses to be located over water on lots in the Urban Commercial and Urban Maritime shoreline environments and allows certain non-water-dependent or water-related uses to be located over water as a Conditional Use
  • Adds new sections for mitigation sequencing that requires a project to avoid impacts and mitigate remaining impacts to achieve no net loss
  • Maintains current regulations for floating homes to be repaired, maintained, and replaced
  • Allows floating-on-water residences per the 2014 Senate Bill 6450

Key Milestones

  • June 2015
    Washington State Department of Ecology approves the City’s Shoreline Master Program
  • April 2015
    Seattle submits final SMP to the Department of Ecology for their review and approval
  • March 2015
    City Council approves the final legislation
  • June 2014
    The Department of Ecology conditionally approves the City’s SMP regulations
  • July and August 2013
    Shoreline Master Program submitted to Department of Ecology for review and approval; Department of Ecology confirmed that the submittal was complete
  • January 2013
    City Council approves 1st SMP legislation
  • June 2012
    3rd Draft Recommendations and SEPA Decision
  • February and October 2011
    Two public review drafts of the proposed regulations for review and comment
    The first draft was followed by a 4 month public comment period and the second draft was followed by a three month public comment period
  • 2007 - 2015
    Public involvement including the Citizen Advisory Committee meetings (May 2008 - March 2009) and Community outreach meetings

The End Result

Our updated Shoreline Master Program:

  • Complies with Department of Ecology requirements
  • Allows appropriate use and enjoyment of our shorelines

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