Shoreline Master Program

See also: Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA) Code, Floating ResidencesLand Use CodeState Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Code

What Is It?

The Shoreline Master Program (23.60A) regulates development in the city’s shoreline environments to:

  • Protect shoreline ecosystems
  • Respond to pollution discharges into bodies of water
  • Encourage water-dependent uses
  • Provide for maximum public use and enjoyment of the shorelines
  • Preserve, enhance, and increase views of and access to the water

Our ordinance requires that you:

Other Resources

For emergency spill response: contact Department of Ecology’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-OILS-911. To find out if the spill is also a shoreline violation, call the SDCI complaint line at (206) 615-0808.

For pollution discharges into lakes, creeks, and public storm drains: contact Seattle Public Utilities. To find out if the spill is also a shoreline violation, call (206) 615-0808.

What It Isn’t

This ordinance does not cover:

Read the Code

Proposed Changes

We are proposing to amend the definition of "vessel" in the Shoreline Master Program (SMP) to address a Seattle Hearing Examiner's decision that ruled that an existing vessel with a broken engine is not a vessel. The environmental review (SEPA) decision for this proposed amendment was published on July 16, 2018. A three-week comment and appeal period followed publication. Links to the decision and supporting documents are included below.

This decision was appealed on August 6, 2018 and we are working through the appeal process. The prehearing conference for the appeal is scheduled for September 13, 2018.

After the appeal of the SEPA decision is resolved there will be additional opportunities to comment on the proposed amendments to the SMP. SDCI and the Department of Ecology (Ecology) will jointly seek public input on the draft amendments, anticipated later this year or early next year.

This joint review on the proposed draft amendment will include:

  • An additional 30-day public comment period
  • A SDCI/Ecology public hearing to get feedback 

Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 173-26-104 provides for the joint review process that SDCI will conduct with Ecology.

We will provide a notice for the next comment period on this webpage. Ecology will provide notice to their list of interested parties that have requested notice of proposed master programs or of general or specific shoreline master program issue amendments.

Notice of the public hearing will be published in The Daily Journal of Commerce and in the Seattle Services Portal Land Use Information Bulletin. Information regarding the public hearing will also be posted on our website.

After SDCI and Ecology have concluded the public comment period SDCI will review and respond to the public comments received and make any changes to the proposal prior to formally submitting the proposed amendment to Ecology. Ecology will provide the initial determination within 30 to 45 days. SDCI will continue to work with Ecology on any needed changes until Ecology determines in a written statement that the proposed amendment is consistent with applicable laws and rules. After receiving this determination from Ecology, SDCI will work with the Seattle City Council to adopt the amendment through an ordinance and will submit the amendment to Ecology for their final approval. This process is outlined in WAC 173-26-110.