Shoreline Master Program

Introduction

The Shoreline Management Act (SMA) provides a statewide framework for managing, accessing and protecting shorelines, and is the fundamental authority for developing, updating and amending Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs). The SMA began with a 1970 citizen-initiated referendum which was ultimately replaced by state-sponsored legislation and approved by the electorate in 1972.
The SMA applies to major water bodies and their adjacent shorelands throughout Washington State. The approximate 28,204 miles of shorelines in the State include:
  • Marine waters – 3,447 miles.
  • Streams over 20 cubic feet per second mean annual flow – 21,645 miles.
  • Water areas and reservoirs 20 acres and greater – 3,112 miles.
  • Upland areas called shorelands that are 200 feet landward of the Ordinary High Water Mark.
  • All associated wetlands
Shoreline Master Programs are both planning and regulatory documents, designed to carry out the policies of the Shoreline Management Act on local shorelines. An SMP consists of a comprehensive use plan, use regulations, maps, diagrams or other descriptive material, and a statement of desired goals and standards. SMPs are based on state laws and rules and are tailored to local geographic and environmental conditions and existing development patterns.
The Shoreline Management Act required cities to review/update their Shoreline Master Programs (SMPs) every 8 years. According to this rotation the City of Pasco is scheduled to update its SMP by 2014, with an optional 1-year extension (2015). The purpose of this 8-year review is to assure that the SMP complies with applicable laws and guidelines and is consistent with the City’s comprehensive plan, development regulations and other local regulations.
The overarching goal of the SMA is to prevent harm from uncoordinated and/or piecemeal development along the state’s shorelines.
The SMA has 3 broad policies as outlined in RCW 90.58.020:
  • Protect the environmental resources of state shorelines
  • Promote public access and enjoyment opportunities.
  • Give priority to uses that require a shoreline location.
All SMP comprehensive updates and other SMP amendments must be consistent with these 3 basic policies.
The Department of Ecology shared an introductory PowerPoint presentation on February 28, 2013 as a Planning Commission workshop. This presentation covered the following items:
  • The importance of shoreline planning
  • The background and regulatory context of shoreline planning
  • What a Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is
  • The purpose of the update
  • An overview of the SMP Update process
  • Public involvement requirements
  • “Next steps”
The legislature established a grant program to fund SMP updates, which are allocated by the Department of Ecology. Ecology staff members are the project officers, working to ensure that local governments meet the grant requirements.
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