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

The City of Edmonds spent several years (2006 - 2014) revising its SMP consistent with updated state guidlelines (WAC 173-26).  The City's review of the SMP update included ten meetings before the Planning Board from June 2011 - November 2012 and eleven meetings before the City Council from December 2012 through November 2014, culminating in the adoption of Resolution 1326 expressing intent to adopt an update to the Shoreline Master Program.  The Department of Ecology is respoonsible for ensuring statewide policies are upheld and implemented when local SMPs are adopted and must approve local SMPs before they become effective.  Following the adoption of Resolution 1326, the City's updated SMP and supporting documention was sent to Ecology for review in December 2014.  Ecology issued a Conditional Approval of the City's SMP on June 27, 2016.

 The Conditional Approval included eight required changes to the City's SMP and one recommended change.  Five of the required changes related to incorporating the recently adopted critical area ordinance into the SMP.  The three remiaing required changes and the one recommended change were in regards to the new Urban Mixed Use IV Shoreline Environment around the Edmonds Marsh.  The one recommended change was to allow residential development within the Urban Mixed Use IV shoreline environment.  The City Council reviewed each of the required changes proposed by Ecology taking preliminary votes on each of the required changes to provide direction to staff in preparing a response to Ecology.

The city of Edmonds responded to Ecology's conditional approval on October 19, 2016 accepting some of Ecology's required changes and proposing alternatives to others.  The alternatives proposed by the City of Edmonds largely represented providing buffers and setbacks in the Urban Mixed Use IV shoreline environment consistent with Ecology's Wetland Guidance for CAO Updates (Publication No. 16-06-001).  The Department of Ecology responded to the City's proposed alternatives on January 10, 2017.  Ecology formally accepted the City's actions and alternatives on Ecology's required changes 1 - 6 (incorporation of the critical area regulations and dropping the interim designation for the Urban Mixed Use IV shoreline environment).  However, Ecology offered two options for the City of Edmonds to consider regarding the buffer and setbacks for the UMU IV shoreline environment.  

The Council considered Ecology's proposed alternatives and developed other options consistent with the intent of the options proposed by Ecology and held another public hearing to gather input from the many voices that care about the Edmonds Marsh.  After much deliberation and public input, the City of Edmonds developed an Option M, which establishes a 110-foot default buffer with a possible alternative buffer width derived from a site-specific scientific study.  Option M also adds clarification to where the buffer and setbacks are measured from which had been a point of confusion.  The City of Edmonds responded to Ecology with Option M and other associated changes on April 6, 2017.  The Department of Ecology issued final approval of the Shoreline Master Program on April 26, 2017. Pursuant to RCW 90.58.090, the updated Shoreline Master Program became effective on May 10, 2017 (fourteen days from the Ecology's final approval letter).  

The final step for the City of Edmonds was to integrate the changes into the SMP and forward the final adoption to the Department of Ecology.  The City Council adopted Ordinance No. 4072 on June 13, 2017 completing the City of Edmonds comprehensive Shoreline Master Program update.

While the updated SMP became effective on May 10, 2017, a 60-day appeal period began on May 11, 2017 when the Department of Ecology published a Notice of Final Acition of the Edmonds' Shoreline Master Program.  Pursuant to RCW 90.58.190(2) and RCW 36.70A.290, petitions of a appeal to Ecology's approval of the SMP may be filed with the Growth Management Hearings Board.

The updated Shoreline Master Program and supporting documents are contained in the SMP Documents tab below.  See Ecology's website for more information on the Department of Ecology's review of the City's Shoreline Master Program.  


SMP 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 during the SMP update, 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 was created to regulate development that may occur at Harbor Square and the old UNOCAL site south of the marsh.  


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.