The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved nearly all parts of Sammamish’s recently updated shoreline master program, and has requested changes that will enable full approval to follow.
The program guides protection, development, and restoration for the city’s nearly 12 miles of shoreline along Lake Sammamish, Pine Lake and Beaver Lake. It significantly improves upon the county shoreline program adopted before the city’s incorporation.
The update will promote the protection and restoration of shoreline habitat, accommodate historic land use patterns, and continue to support shoreline public parks within the city.
The city also developed several flexible approaches to accommodate current and planned development, in exchange for actions that offset new environmental impacts. These allow smaller setbacks and expansion of existing buildings within shoreline-protection areas.
Ecology informed the city that the program would need changes in specific areas to meet state Shoreline Management Act (SMA) requirements and guidelines. The guidelines were negotiated in 2003 among business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts. These changes include:
* Removal of allowances for certain types or new or expanded development, adopted without requiring environmental offsets.
* Revise dock standards to properly protect migrating salmon, consistent with other regulatory agency standards for Lake Sammamish.
The city may respond by accepting Ecology’s changes, which would put the shoreline master program into effect. Or, the city may submit alternate changes, which would require Ecology review and approval.
Sammamish is one of several local governments that have completed their updates. The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
About 230 towns, cities and counties statewide are in the process or soon will be updating their master programs during the next few years, under the state’s 1972 voter-approved SMA.
Shoreline master programs are a cornerstone of the SMA. It requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.