Effective Date for Seattle’s Shoreline Master Program

The Washington Department of Ecology approved Seattle’s updated Shoreline Master Program on June 1. It will take effect on June 15. Local shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the state’s Shoreline Management Act, approved by voters in 1971.

Seattle’s shoreline program will result in the balanced management of nearly 100 miles of marine, lake, and estuarine shorelines throughout the city. The program is designed to minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to enjoy shorelines areas.

The Seattle program supports the use of the shorelines by maritime businesses. It accomplishes this by allowing reduced buffers in urban shoreline environments to accommodate water-dependent and water-related uses, and by providing special standards for maritime industrial properties intended to facilitate the operation of water-dependent and water-related businesses.

The Seattle program improves stewardship of shorelines by encouraging property owners to incorporate environmental restoration when re-developing shoreline properties. It accomplishes this by limiting the overall footprint of new and replaced residential docks and piers to the minimum necessary to serve moorage needs, encouraging soft-bank erosion control methods, and limiting construction of new shoreline armoring.

Seattle’s update also satisfies the state’s general requirements for local shoreline programs and the 2014 amendments to the Shoreline Management Act addressing floating on-water residences as follows:

  • Establish policies and regulations intended to ensure no net loss of existing shoreline ecological functions
  • Provide shoreline regulations that are integrated with the City’s comprehensive plan, zoning, and environmental critical areas ordinances
  • Provide specific regulations established through 11 shoreline designations that are designed to fit Seattle’s varied shorelines
  • Accommodate established floating-on-water residences, floating homes and house-barges through specific development standards applicable to repair, replacement, or expansion of these existing over-water residential uses
  • Establish protective buffers and shoreline setbacks consistent with the City’s environmental critical areas ordinance
  • Establish best management practices to protect water-quality
  • Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound

The city’s final response and Ecology’s decision materials for the updated shoreline program can be reviewed at Ecology’s website.

Updated Director’s Rules and Tips related to the shoreline program will be on DPD’s website this month.

For more information, contact:

Maggie Glowacki
(206) 386-4036