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Shoreline Master Programs

Emergency construction exemption

State rules define an emergency as "an unanticipated and imminent threat to public health, safety, or the environment which requires immediate actions within a time too short to allow full compliance." The exemption only applies if the construction is necessary to protect property from damage by the elements. [WAC 173-27-040(2)(d)].

Emergency construction does not include building new permanent protective structures where none previously existed. If a local government determines that a new protective structures is the appropriate means to address the emergency situation, the applicant must obtain a permit after the emergency situation is over.

All emergency construction must be consistent with the policies of the SMA and the local master program.

If a project proponent has not obtained a permit due to lack of proper planning, it does not constitute an emergency. An example of an emergency is a ruptured oil or sewage line that needs to be repaired or removed immediately or emergency repair of a dike during a flood. As a general matter, flooding or other season events that can be anticipated, but are not imminent, are not considered an emergency.

For more information

Contact Ecology's shoreline permit reviewer serving your town, city, or county.