Protecting Seattle’s Shorelines

— Special regulations apply to uses and development within 200 feet of Seattle’s shorelines

Seattle’s location on the Puget Sound gives it a unique geography. There are about 200 miles of fresh and saltwater shorelines within Seattle’s city limits. The City of Seattle protects our shoreline ecosystems, encourages water-dependent uses, and maximizes the public’s enjoyment of our natural resources. The City ensures that residents follow the regulations in the 1972 Shoreline Management Act.

In 2015 Seattle DCI saw a threefold increase in the number of shoreline inquiries. This surge of requests is likely due to the public’s increased awareness of the new shoreline rules passed with our Shoreline Master Program update which took effect on June 15, 2015.

The majority of our shoreline inquiries were complaints about new floating structures, uses, and development over water without city authorization. For example, we received several complaints about people replacing pier decking with pressure-treated wood. Wood treated with toxic compounds is not allowed for decking or piling over water because the runoff is toxic to fish.

All repair, uses, and development in the Shoreline District must be authorized before you start your project. You need to apply for either a permit or authorization (called an exemption) for your work. You can get an overview of the Shoreline Code and our Tip sheets on Seattle DCI’s Shoreline Master Program website.

For general information about how you can comply with our shoreline regulations, contact the shoreline inspectors:

Christine Bruno
(206) 684-5040


Megan Mueller
(206) 684-0616