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Shoreline Master Programs

Shoreline Master Program Guidelines
(Chapter 173-26 WAC, Part III)

Shoreline Management Act: Rulemaking 2015-2017

Ecology is amending rules related to local shoreline master programs and the Shoreline Management Act (SMA). Learn more and sign up to receive notices.

Download the Guidelines

Background and history

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) Guidelines are state standards which local governments must follow in drafting their shoreline master programs. The Guidelines translate the broad policies of the Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58.020) into standards for regulation of shoreline uses. The state legislature directed Ecology in 1995 to update the guidelines, which had not been revised since 1972 and did not account for advancements in science and shoreline management practices nor the recent passage of Washington’s Growth Management Act. Ecology proposed a first draft in 1999 and adopted a substantially revised draft in 2000 that was challenged in court.

Then-Governor Gary Locke and former Attorney General Christine Gregoire cosponsored a year-long mediation effort in 2002 that culminated in a third draft, which was issued for public comment in July 2002. That proposal had the endorsement of all of the parties to the lawsuit, including the Association of Washington Business (representing a coalition of business organizations, cities and counties), the Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association, the Washington Environmental Council (WEC) and other environmental organizations – all of whom were parties to the lawsuit. The final version was adopted December 17, 2003 and became effective January 17, 2004. 
> More history of the SMP guidelines

Ecology made additional amendments to the Guidelines between 2003 and 2011 in response to changes in state statute.

In 2011, Ecology amended the Guidelines in response to a 2007 statute (RCW 43.21A.681) that directed Ecology to “adopt, by rule” guidance on geoduck aquaculture with advice from a Shellfish Aquaculture Regulatory Committee (SARC). Ecology adopted amendments to the Guidelines in February 2011 that include new provisions for commercial geoduck aquaculture. Ecology also completed additional housekeeping amendments to chapters 173-18, 20, 22, 26 and 27 WAC at that time.

Rule-making archives

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