Seattle shoreline program approved
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Seattle shoreline program approved

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SEATTLE – June 4, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Seattle’s updated shoreline master program.

Seattle’s program will result in the balanced management of nearly 100 miles of marine, lake and estuarine shorelines throughout the city. The city’s locally tailored 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.

Local shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the state’s Shoreline Management Act, approved by voters in 1971.

“We are confident that the approved program will protect both the economic and environmental health of the city’s shoreline areas,” said Gordon White, who manages Ecology’s shorelines program. “Seattle’s shorelines support such a variety of important built and natural functions that it took eight years to complete this update, so we’re very pleased to reach this milestone. Our thanks go, as well, to the many stakeholders who helped craft Seattle’s shoreline program.”

Protection and restoration

Seattle’s program improves stewardship of shorelines by encouraging property owners to incorporate environmental restoration when re-developing shoreline properties. For example, it limits new and replacement docks and piers to the size needed to serve moorage needs. The program also promotes soft-bank erosion control methods rather than construction of new shoreline armoring.

Working waterfront

The program recognizes the economic importance of the city’s many maritime industries. In shoreline areas designated for industrial activities it:

  • Allows reduced buffers to accommodate water-dependent and water-related uses and to support the maritime industry.
  • Establishes special development standards to enable maritime industries to conduct water-related or water-dependent operations.

Floating communities

Seattle’s update also addresses the city’s approach to regulating its unique community of hundreds of floating residences. The approved program utilizes recent Shoreline Management Act amendments to formally recognize established floating-on-water residences, floating homes and house-barges. The city’s program also sets standards for repair, replacement, or expansion of these existing over-water residential uses.

Seattle’s update contains provisions that reflect the variety of shoreline activities in the city, while satisfying the state’s general requirements for local shoreline programs:

  • Establishes policies and regulations intended to ensure no net loss of existing shoreline ecological functions.
  • Provides specific regulations established through 11 shoreline designations that are designed to fit Seattle’s varied shorelines.
  • Establishes protective buffers and shoreline setbacks consistent with the city’s environmental critical areas ordinance.
  • Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the city’s comprehensive plan, zoning, and environmental critical areas ordinances.
  • Establishes marina 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.

More than 200 Washington cities and counties with regulated shorelines are updating their shoreline master programs.

Contact:

Larry Altose, Ecology media relations, 425-649-7009

Josh Baldi, Ecology Northwest Regional Director, 425-649-7010

Bryan Stevens, Seattle Department of Planning and Development, 206-684-5045

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