Shoreline Exemptions

What Is It?

Many types of projects, such as construction of a new commercial or multi-family residential building within Seattle's shoreline district, require a Shoreline Land Use Permit. The shoreline district includes Elliott Bay, Lake Washington, the Ship Canal, Lake Union, the Duwamish River, Green Lake, and associated wetlands and all land within 200 feet of these water bodies.

Certain projects are considered exempt from this permit requirement if the proposal meets specific criteria in the City’s Shoreline Master Program.

Some common types of projects that are typically considered exempt:

  • Normal maintenance and repair of existing structures or developments, including damage by accident, fire, or natural elements
  • Construction of a single-family residence and accessory structures by the owner for his/her own use, on dry land only
  • Demolition of structures, not having a major impact on the shoreline character
  • Any development with a value of less than $7,047.00 that does not materially interfere with normal public use of the water

If your project qualifies for a shoreline exemption, you must obtain written approval from us before a construction permit can be issued or the project can be implemented. For more information on the process of obtaining a shoreline exemption, see below.

All development within the shoreline district, even where an exemption from the requirement for a Shoreline Land Use Permit is granted, must be consistent with the policies and regulations of the State’s Shoreline Management Act and Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program.

How Much Does It Cost?

You will be charged a fee for the review of your shoreline exemption application. The fee is based on the number of hours we need to review the application. The current land use hourly fee is charged for the first hour of review and this amount is collected at the time of application. You can learn more about our fees by calling our Public Resource Center at (206) 684-8467.

How Long Does It Take?

It generally takes between 1 to 3 weeks for us to review a shoreline exemption application. However, a number of factors can affect this time including the complexity of the project, the completeness of the information you provided, and how quickly and completely you respond to requests from us for information required to complete our review.