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.
  • Biological wetlands and river deltas connected to these water bodies
  • Some or all of the 100-year floodplain, including all 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 2022, with an optional 1-year extension (2023). 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 7 policies in order of preference as outlined in RCW 90.58.020:

  1. Recognize and protect the statewide interest over local interest;
  2. Preserve the natural character of the shoreline;
  3. Result in long term over short term benefit;
  4. Protect the resources and ecology of the shoreline;
  5. Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shorelines;
  6. Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shoreline;
  7. Provide for any other element as defined in RCW 90.58.100 deemed appropriate or necessary.

All SMP comprehensive updates and other SMP amendments must be consistent with these policies.

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.

Final Shoreline Master Program

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