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Shoreline Master Programs

Tacoma Shoreline Master Program: Comprehensive Update

On October 1, 2013, the Department of Ecology approved Tacoma’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update. Ecology’s approval puts the final stamp on a significant effort that increases protection and restoration of habitat and water quality, provides more certainty for development, and improves public access and recreational opportunities. Per RCW 90.58.090, the effective date of Tacoma’s shoreline program is October 15, 2013, 14 days after Ecology provided notice to the city that their shoreline program was approved.

Tacoma’s updated program will guide uses and development along nearly 46 miles of shoreline including Wapato Lake and portions of the Puyallup River and Hylebos Creek, and along 37 miles of marine shoreline in Commencement Bay and Puget Sound. The city revised the existing shoreline program, including the goals, policies, regulations, shoreline environment designations and shoreline district boundaries, and administrative procedures and definitions. Tacoma made specific changes to provisions addressing public access, recreation, the Thea Foss Waterway and to uses along the shorelines of Ruston Way and Schuster Parkway. The city also incorporated critical area regulations directly into the program.

On August 19, 2013, Ecology provided Tacoma with required and recommended changes to the city’s proposed update of their program. The changes were based on Ecology’s review of whether or not Tacoma’s proposal complied with state laws and rules, and a public comment period held April 23 – June 7, 2012.

Ecology used mail and email to notified interested parties about the opportunity to comment. Ecology also issued a news release to encourage broader public participation and comment. Ecology received 34 letters and emails with comments. The comments primarily focused on the re-designation of Sperry Ocean Dock from the S-7 (High Intensity) environment designation to a transitional S-6/7 (Urban Conservancy) designation; public access along Schuster Parkway; aquaculture; environment designations and mitigation sequencing; buffers; and utilities. On June 25, 2012, Ecology sent a summary of comments to Tacoma for their response. The public comments and Tacoma’s responses were incorporated into a summary of public comments. The public’s input helped shape the final, approved program.

Documents related for approval

Note: All documents are PDF.

Locally adopted Shoreline Master Program

Background documents

Paper copies of the above documents are available by contacting Kim Van Zwalenburg (see below), with Washington State Department of Ecology.


  • Per 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 News Tribune legal ads on October 16, 2013.

NOTE: The appeal period started on October 15. The Tacoma News Tribune legal ad was published on October 15, 2013 rather than on October 16, 2013 as requested.

Staff contact

Kim Van Zwalenburg
Washington State Department of Ecology
Southwest Regional Office
PO Box 47775
Olympia, Washington 98504-7775
360) 407-6520

For more information

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