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Shoreline Master Programs

Bellingham Shoreline Master Program: Comprehensive Update

On January 30, 2013 the Department of Ecology approved Bellingham’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update. Per RCW 90.58.090, the effective date of Bellingham’s shoreline program is February 13, 2013, 14 days after Ecology provided notice to the City that their shoreline program was approved. Bellingham’s shoreline program had not been updated since 1989.

Shorelines in Bellingham include Bellingham Bay located on the Salish Sea, Lake Whatcom, Lake Padden, and local creeks. Bellingham’s proposed updated program provides for the redevelopment of the downtown area, management of the lands within the urban growth area (UGA), continuation of existing commercial development, and flood risk management. The updated program promotes protection and restoration of the riparian habitat and recognizes the City's historic land use pattern.

On December 17, 2012, Ecology provided Bellingham required and recommended changes to the City’s proposed update, which was submitted to Ecology in August 2010. Bellingham accepted the changes on January 29, 2013.

The changes were based on Ecology’s review of whether or not the proposed update complied with state laws and rules, and a public comment period held May 16 – June 24, 2011. Ecology also held a public hearing where nine interested parties testified.

Ecology used mail and email to notify those who had expressed prior interest. Ecology also issued a news release and legal ad to encourage public participation and comment. We received a total of 52 individual comments from four organizations and one individual citizen. Comments focused on a variety of topics including shoreline exemptions, shoreline environment designations and issues relating to no net loss of ecological function.

On October 7, 2011, Ecology sent a summary of comments to the City for their response. The public comments and City’s responses have been incorporated into Attachment A: Findings and Conclusions (below).

Documents related to approval

Note: All documents are PDF

Locally adopted SMP

Background documents

Paper copies of the above documents are available by contacting Anthony Boscolo, Washington Department of Ecology (see Staff contact, below).


  • RCW 90.58.190(2) and RCW 36.70A.290, an interested party may file an appeal with the Growth Management Hearings Board within 60 days of the publication date of Ecology’s written notice of final action.
  • Ecology plans to publish the notice of final action in The Bellingham Herald legal ads on February 11, 2013.

Staff contact

Anthony Boscolo
Washington Department of Ecology
Northwest Regional Office
3190 160th Ave. SE
Bellevue, WA 98008-5452
(425) 649-7049

For more information

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