2011 Shoreline Management Act Amendments: Effective July 22, 2011
The 2011 legislative session included several adopted bills amending the
Shoreline Management Act (SMA,
RCW 90.58.) These amendments affect procedures for both local governments and
Ecology and are effective July 22, 2011.
Local governments should review the changes carefully for implications to
shoreline planning and permitting work.
Summary table of changes to Shoreline Management Act
Summary table of changes to Shoreline Management Act rules
SSB 5192 - Notification and appeals timelines under SMA
Ecology requested this legislation to clarify SMA appeal timelines and
address confusion (e.g. multiple dates to calculate the start of an appeal
period) created by HB 2935 in 2010.
- Shoreline Master Program (SMP) effective date and appeal period:
- Ecology, rather than local government, is now responsible for
publishing the written notice of final Ecology action – approval or
rejection of an SMP. The notice will be published in the same local
paper used for announcing Ecology’s public comment period.
- The effective date to trigger a Shoreline Master Program (SMP)
appeal period is returned to the publication date of written notice of
- The SMP “effective date” is 14 days after Ecology’s written notice
of final action. This was requested by local governments, and gives
local governments time to prepare to implement the new SMP.
- For “non GMA fully-planning” governments, Ecology must also notify
the local government via “telephone or electronic means.”
- Shoreline permit appeal periods:
- The start of appeal periods for shoreline permits is returned to the
"date of filing".
- A local government decision on a shoreline permit must be
transmitted by return receipt requested mail. This is intended to
ensure prompt initiation of the appeal period.
- Ecology's action on a conditional use permit (CUP) or variance (VAR)
must be transmitted to the local government and permit applicant by
"telephone or electronic means" in addition to written notice.
ESHB 1478 - SMP updates delayed to provide city/county fiscal relief
The legislature delayed local planning deadlines contained in several
statutes to reduce pressure on local governments during the fiscal crisis. The
delays include the following SMA amendments:
- Reform future SMP update deadlines to better fit State funding cycles
- There is no change to deadlines for the current cycle of SMP
comprehensive updates. Amendments affecting SMP update deadlines
starting in 2019 are:
- Cycle to "review and revise as necessary" is changed from 7 to 8
- Deadline for local submittal of SMP to Ecology is now June 30 rather
than December 1.
- Groups of counties are now equal in terms of grant funding and
technical assistance, rather than uneven.
- Target for Ecology final action on SMPs (Section 14)
- Ecology must "strive" for final action within 180 days of local
submittal. Annual website-based performance update will be
provided by Ecology
SHB 1783 - Floating homes and floating home moorages
This bill responded to concerns raised by the Seattle floating home community
regarding preservation of historic floating home communities. They are effective
July 22, 2011 and need to be included in SMP updates where relevant.
- A floating home permitted or legally established prior to January 1,
2011 is now classified under the SMA as a "conforming preferred use."
- Reasonable regulatory conditions and mitigation can be applied through a
local SMP, but must not "effectively preclude" maintenance, repair,
replacement, and remodeling.
SSB 5451 - Existing shoreline residential structures may be classified as
This bill responded to concerns by shoreline residents that new SMP standards
will make them “nonconforming” – potentially affecting access to financing and
- New and amended SMPs after September 1, 2011 may classify legally
established residential structures as conforming, even if they do not meet
updated standards for buffers, etc.
- Redevelopment, expansion and replacement are allowed, consistent with
the local SMP and No Net Loss requirements.
- Appurtenant structures (ex. garages and sheds) are included. Bulkheads
and other shoreline modifications and over-water structures are excluded.
- SMPs may place limits on existing over-water structures or those in
hazardous areas. Application of other federal, state, or local regulations
is not affected.
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