What is a Shoreline Master
Master programs are defined in the Shoreline Management Act as: ". .
.the comprehensive use plan for a described area, and the use regulations
together with maps, diagrams, charts, or other descriptive material and
text, a statement of desired goals, and standards..." [RCW
Every SMP is unique, and many newer SMPs are integrated to some degree
into local comprehensive plans and development regulations. However, most SMPs include the following:
- Introduction information on the
relationship of the SMP to other regulatory programs, description of
the legal framework and applicability of the SMP, and orientation on how
to use the document.
- Goals that serve as broad expressions of community desires relative
to SMP "elements": shoreline use,
economic development, public access, circulation, recreation, conservation
and historical/cultural values. Goals provide the basis for, and are
intended to help implement, SMP policies and regulations. The shoreline elements
are required by the SMA at
- General policies and regulations that apply to shoreline uses and modification activities irrespective of
environment designations. Policies are the bridge between goals and regulations,
translating the general into the specific. Shoreline policies
are legally enforceable. Regulations are more specific, enforceable controls and
standards for shoreline development.
- Policies and regulations for shoreline uses
such as agriculture, aquaculture, mining, commercial, industrial,
recreation and boating facilities. A shoreline "use" is defined as the "end" to
which a land or water area is ultimately employed. Regulations in SMPs are often
referred to as "use requirements."
- Policies and regulations for shoreline modification activities
including dredging, piers,
construction of bulkheads, and other actions undertaken in preparation for, or in support of, a
shoreline use. Regulations for shoreline modification activities generally deal
with construction impacts whereas "use" regulations pertain to long term
management as well.
- Environment designations: shorelines are classified into specific
“environment designations” based on their physical, biological and
development characteristics. Historically, SMPs have used primarily four
basic environment designations (“natural", "conservancy", "rural" and
"urban"). New state guidelines recommend six designations: "natural,"
"rural-conservancy," "urban conservancy," "high-intensity," "shoreline
residential," and "aquatic." Local
governments may modify state recommended classifications to better accommodate
shoreline areas with unique characteristics. Policies and regulations are
developed for each designation, reflecting the specific purpose and intent of
each environment and responding to its specific conditions.
- Administrative regulations for permit and enforcement, and for making amendments to the shoreline master program.
- Technical appendices such as maps of the environment designations and
boundary descriptions for environment designations are usually
incorporated into SMPs.
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