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Shoreline Master Programs photo

Shoreline Master Programs

SMP Guidelines 1995 - 2000

Ecology was first authorized to revise the guidelines under a 1995 law (ESHB 1724) that established the Growth Management Act as the "integrating framework" for all land use planning. The law mandated that local shoreline programs be considered a part of local comprehensive plans and regulations. 

In 1996, Ecology implemented the procedural changes required under ESHB 1724 by repealing four rules and replacing them with two new rules. The master program guidelines are more complex because they require many local governments to significantly update local shoreline regulations for the first time in decades.

In 1995 and 1996, Ecology worked with an advisory group to produce new guidelines. Some members believed Ecology’s proposal raised legal issues that would best be resolved by changing the laws. Ecology agreed to work on statutory amendments, and postponed work on the guidelines. 

In 1997 Ecology worked with a subcommittee of the Land Use Study Commission (LUSC) to propose legislative changes that would make the two laws easier to blend. The group could not agree on new language in time for the 1998 Legislature. The LUSC recommended Ecology convene a new commission to tackle the guidelines again.

Ecology convened a Shorelines Guidelines Commission in June 1998 to recommend amendments to these guidelines. The Commission met more than 20 times between July 1998 and January 1999.

Initial draft rule (April 1999)

Ecology first formally proposed amendments to shoreline guidelines on April 21, 1999. Four public hearings were held in May, and in response to public requests, another five were held in July. The public comment period closed on August 4, 1999. The agency received  2,500 comment letters and heard from 200 people at nine hearings across the state. 

After reviewing the public comments, Ecology determined that substantial changes were needed. Under state law, if an agency decides to make substantial edits to a proposed rule, it must start the official public-comment process from scratch.

Ecology withdrew the rule in October 1999, worked with interested groups on changes, and sought review of a revised "working draft" rule beginning December 1999. Ecology held an informal public comment period on a "working draft" of the rule from December 17, 1999 through March 6, 2000.

"Final" draft rule (June 2000)

Ecology commenced a 60-day comment period on a proposed rule on June 7, 2000 with an announcement in the Washington State Register (WSR 00-11-175). Ecology received more than 2,000 comment letters during the comment period. 

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