Shoreline Master Program

Edmonds SMP logo3

Introduction and Overview

In 2003, the state issued a comprehensive set of guidelines addressing requirements for local Shoreline Master Programs, which are contained in Chapter 173-26 of the Washington Administrative Codes (WAC). Legislation requires that the City of Edmonds and other municipalities update their Shoreline Master Programs to be consistent with the new guidelines and changes to the Shoreline Management Act. The general goals of the Shoreline Management Act are:

    • Protect shoreline natural resources, including "...the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the water of the state and their aquatic life..."
    • Promote public access: "the public's opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally."
    • Encourage water-dependent uses: "uses shall be preferred which are consistent with control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment, or are unique to or dependent upon use of the states' shorelines..."

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) applies to shorelines within the City and establishes development standards for shoreline development.   The shoreline areas within the City of Edmonds jurisdiction include Puget Sound, Lake Ballinger, and the tidally influenced portions of the Edmonds Marsh. Shoreline Jurisdiction also applies to upland areas within 200 feet of the shoreline edge (ordinary high water mark) and associated wetlands. A major change in the shoreline jurisdiction with this update is that the tidally influenced portions of Edmonds Marsh are being considered a shoreline as opposed to an associated wetland, which means that shoreline jurisdiction extends 200 feet beyond the marsh boundary into Harbor Square and the old UNOCAL site south of the marsh.

To find out more about the Shoreline Master Program update, see the information contained within each of the tabs below.

For more information, please feel free to contact Kernen Lien via email or by phone at 425-771-0220.

SMP Update Overview


Shoreline Master Program Update History

In 2003 the state of Washington adopted new guidelines for the development of local Shoreline Master Programs (SMP). The 2003 legislature also adopted a schedule for update local Shoreline Master Programs.  According to RCW 98.58.080(1), the City of Edmonds was suppose have completed is SMP update by December 1, 2011.

The City of Edmonds began this update in 2006 when it applied for and was awarded a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.  The City contracted the services of ReidMiddleton with grant monies and formed a Citizens Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  Between 2006 and 2008, ReidMiddleton, working with the TAC, reviewed and updated the City's shoreline goals and policies.  The TAC also reviewed updated shoreline environmental designations and the draft Shoreline Inventory and Characterization and Shoreline Restoration Plan.   Over the last couple of years, City staff has taken the work completed by ReidMiddleton and the TAC and drafted shoreline development regulations consistent with the new state guidelines.  These draft regulations in a new Title 24 of the Edmonds Community Development Code (see the tab on SMP Update Documents under several iterations and review with the Washington State Department of Ecology.  With tentative approval from the Department of Ecology on the draft regulations, the City of Edmonds Planning Board has begun reviewing the SMP update.

 The Planning Board discussed the SMP update over ten meetings from June 2011 to November 2012.  Following the November 14, 2012 public hearing, the Planning Board forward the SMP to the City Council with a recommendation for approval.

The Edmonds City Council began its review of the SMP on December 4, 2012.  The City Council reviewed the SMP over the course of 11 Council meetings including two public hearings on the SMP on June 4, 2013 and September 16, 2014.  The City Council approved the updated SMP and forwarded the SMP and supporting documentation to the Department of Ecology for review via the adoption of Resolution No. 1326.  The SMP approved by the City Council and supporting documents are contained in the SMP Update Documents tab below.

SMP Approval

The City must send the SMP to the Washington State Department of Ecology for review of the SMP for consistency with state guidelines.  The updated SMP will note become effective until Ecology has approved the SMP. The Department of Ecolgy received numeruous comments during Ecology's public comment period on the SMP which ended March 27, 2015.  A summary of the comments and the City of Edmonds responses to the comments are available at this link.

See Ecology's website for more information on the Department of Ecology's review of the City's Shoreline Master Program.  

Current Shoreline Master Program

The city of Edmonds first adopted a Shoreline Master Program (SMP)  in the 1970s consistent with the Shoreline Management Act of 1971.  Over the years, the city of Edmonds made minor amendments to its SMP.  In 1996, the city began an update of the SMP.  This effort resulted in a revised SMP adopted by the Edmonds city Council in 2000 under Ordinance 3318.  The adopted SMP is found in the Edmonds Community Develop Code (ECDC) Chapter 23.10.  The SMP was adopted as both a policy plan and a regulatory program.  it was developed to be consistent with the city of Edmonds Comprehensive Plan and its component elements.  The current SMP can be found here.

Part III of the current SMP establishes the environmental designations for various shoreline areas within the City's jurisdiction.  Local governments are required to develop and assign a land use categorization system of shoreline areas as a basis for effective Shoreline Master Programs. The intent of designating shoreline environment is to encourage development that will enhance the present or desired character of the shoreline. To accomplish this, segments of shoreline are given an environment designation based on existing development patterns, natural capabilities and limitations, and the aspiration of the local community. The existing shoreline environment designations are:

  • Natural Environment
  • Conservancy I Saltwater Environment
  • Conservancy II Freshwater Environment
  • Urban Mixed Use I
  • Urban Mixed Use II
  • Urban Railroad
  • Suburban Residential I
  • Suburban Residential II
  • Suburban Residential III
  • Suburban Residential IV

Descriptions of these shoreline environments are located in ECDC 23.10.105 and maps of the location of these environments are located here.

SMP Update Documents


SMP Draft Regulations - Title 24 Edmonds Community Development Code

Title 24 of the Edmonds Community Development Code contains the regulations and standards for shoreline uses and modification within in the City's shoreline jurisdiction.  Title 24 is divided into ten parts, consistent with the material to be included within a master program as established in Chapter 173-26 WAC.  In addition to regulations for development and modifications within shoreline jurisdiction, Title 24 also contains policies for Edmonds' shoreline jurisdiction that were developed by the Citizens Technical Advisory Committee and administrative provisions for shoreline permitting.  Title 24 contains two appendices.  Appendix A contains the Shorline Jurisdiction Maps which are provided in the next section below.  Appendix B is the version of the City's critical area regulations that will apply to critical areas within the City's shoreline jurisdiction.


Shoreline Jurisdiction and Shoreline Environmental Designation Maps

The following maps show the City's shoreline jurisdiction and the shoreline environmental designations of the various shoreline areas with the City.  Local governments are required to develop and assign a land use categorization system of shoreline areas as a basis for effective Shoreline Master Programs.  The intent of designating shoreline environment is to encourage development that will enhance the present or desired character the shoreline.  To accomplish this, segments of the shoreline are given an environment designation based on existing development patterns, natural capabilities and limitations, and the aspiration of the local community.  Descriptions of the shoreline environments are contained within Part III of the regulations linked above (ECDC 24.40.000 through ECDC 24.30.080).

A major change over the shoreline jurisdiction identified in the current SMP, is that the tidally influenced portions of the Edmonds Marsh (roughly the western half of the marsh west of SR 104) is now considered a shoreline of the state, which means that shoreline jurisdiction extends 200 feet beyond that portion of the marsh.   As a result, a new Urban Mixed Use IV environment is proposed to accommodate development that may occur at Harbor Square and the old UNOCAL site south of the marsh.  The Urban Mixed Use IV envirnoment has been established as an interim shoreline environment. Establishing the Urban Mixed Use IV environment as an interim designation will allow the City, in cooperation with property owners, Ecology, scientists, interested agencies/organizaitons, and members of the public to carefully review effects of establish a new shoreline jurisdiction for the area around the marsh on existing and planned development as well as the ecological role the Edmonds Marsh plays in the City of Edmonds. The City intends to study the issues surrounding the Edmonds Marsh and related Urban Mixed-Use IV designation for two years from the effective date of this SMP. At the end of the study period, the City will adopt appropriate shoreline environment designation(s) for the area surrounding the Edmonds Marsh including evaluating whether a new designation is needed and whether the entire area should have the same designation.


Shoreline Inventory and Characterization

The purpose of the Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report is to document baseline environmental conditions in the shoreline jurisdiction of the City of Edmonds.  This inventory and characterization provides a basis for updating the City's Shoreline Master Program.  The inventory and characterization helps the City to evaluate ecological functions and values of natural resources in its shoreline jurisdiction, and explore opportunities for conservation and restoration. 


Shoreline Restoration Plan

A significant feature of state guidelines for the SMP update is the requirement that local governments include a real and meaningful strategy to address restoration of shorelines.  Master programs must include goals, policies and actions for restoration of impaired shoreline ecological functions.  The restoration plan is not intended to directly mitigate past or future development impacts on the City's shorelines.  Restoration is intended to improve overall environmental conditions unrelated to upcoming projects planned in the shoreline environment. 


Cumulative Impacts Analysis

A final piece of the SMP is the Cumulative Impacts Analysis.  The Shoreline Master Program Guidelines requires the City to evaluate and consider the cumulative impacts of reasonably foreseeable future development on shoreline ecological functions and other shoreline functions promoted by the Shoreline Management Act.  The purpose of the cumulative impacts analysis is to ensure that the City's SMP includes shoreline policies and regulations that will achieve no net loss of shoreline ecological functions as the SMP is implemented over time. 



Shoreline Management Act Information


Shoreline Management Act

Washington's Shoreline Management Act was passed by the legislature in 1971 and affirmed by voters in 1972.  The Act governs the use and development of Washington's shorelines and creates a unique partnership between local and state government.  The Act strives to achieve responsible shoreline use and development, environmental protection, and public access.  Local governments develop master programs based on teh Act and State guidance, and the state ensures local programs consider statewide public interests. 


Shoreline Master Program Guidelines or Rules

When the legislature adopts a law, state agencies must adopt rules that guide how the law is carried out.  Rules are part of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and carry the force of law.  Washington State Department of Ecology's Shoreline Master Program Guidelines (Chapter 173-26 WAC) translate the broad policies of the Shoreline Management Act into guidance for both Ecology and local governments.


For more information on the Shoreline Managment Act on Shoreline Master Programs visit the Department of Ecology's Shoreline Master Programs web page here.

Planning News

  • Highway 99 Subarea Plan

    Click here to follow progress on the Highway 99 Subarea planning process.

  • Shoreline Master Program Update

    Find out about the new Shoreline Master Program update, affecting planning and regulation city shorelines (including Edmonds Marsh and Lake Ballinger).

  • AWC Award

    The City of Edmonds won an Association of Washington Cities Municipal Excellence Award for its Sustaining Edmonds program.