Shoreline Master Program 2014 Update: Frequently Asked
is the Shoreline Management Act?
The state's Shoreline Management Act ("the Act" or "the
SMA") is the law that requires cities and counties to establish
Shoreline Master Programs. The SMA was approved by the Legislature
in 1971 and overwhelmingly approved by public initiative in 1972.
Under the SMA, each county and city that plans under the Growth Management
Act is required to prepare a shoreline master program in accordance
with shoreline guidelines issued by the Washington State Department
of Ecology. The Shoreline Management Act has an overarching goal to
"prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal
development of the state's shorelines."
What is a Shoreline Master Program?
Skagit County's Shoreline Master Program ("the SMP") is
a combined planning and regulatory document that contains policies,
goals, and specific land-use regulations for shorelines. The program
balances development, public access, and shoreline protection.
What are "shorelines"?
Shorelines are special water bodies that meet certain flow criteria,
and their adjacent uplands. The Shoreline Master Program update includes
marine shorelines, rivers with a flow greater than 20 cubic feet per
second, lakes larger than 20 acres, upland areas within 200 feet of
these water bodies and the floodplains and wetlands associated with
these shorelines. It only applies to unincorporated areas of the county-lands
outside cities and towns.
Why are we updating the Skagit County SMP?
In 2003, the state Legislature established funding, timelines, and
guidelines requiring all cities and counties to update their local
Shoreline Master Programs prepared under the Washington State Shoreline
Management Act. The new shoreline guidelines passed in 2003 set a
higher level of environmental protection for shorelines in the state
and a goal of "no net loss" of shoreline function.
Is Skagit County required to update its SMP?
90.58.080 requires every city and county in the state to update
their Shoreline Master Programs on a set schedule. Many jurisdictions
(including Skagit County) are late in adopting their SMPs, but so
long as they are making forward progress are not expected to be subject
Did Pierce County opt out of updating its SMP?
No. Counties are not allowed to "opt out" of the SMP update.
Pierce County is still actively processing its SMP update, as their
plan webpage makes clear. You can find the status
of every SMP update on Ecology's website.
What happens if we don't update our SMP?
The Department of Ecology is authorized by RCW
90.58.070 and .090
173-26-070 to itself adopt a SMP for the shorelines of the state
within our county. Much of the opportunity for our own determination
of how to regulate shoreline areas would be reduced.
Why do we want to update the SMP?
For a variety of reasons, it's in the County's interest to update
our Shoreline Master Program: