Dept. Of Ecology Starts Review Of SeaTac Shoreline Program Update
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) seeks public comment on the City of SeaTac’s recently updated Shoreline Master Program, a landmark effort that will significantly increase protection and restoration of Angle Lake.
Ecology will accept public comment on SeaTac’s shoreline program from July 28 through Aug. 27, 2010. Comments and questions should be
Department of Ecology
3190 160th Ave. SE
Bellevue, WA 98008
Or via email: David.Pater@ecy.wa.gov.
The updated master program guides construction and development in the City of SeaTac’s 2.17 miles of lake shoreline. It combines local plans for future development and preservation with new development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
Under Washington’s voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, Ecology must review and approve SeaTac’s shoreline program before it takes effect.
SeaTac’s proposed program and related documents are available for review at:
City of SeaTac Planning & Community Dept.
4800 South 188th Street
Or online here.
Ecology may approve the shoreline program as written, reject it or direct SeaTac to modify specific parts. Once approved by Ecology, SeaTac’s shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline master program. Ecology will help each local jurisdiction legally defend its shoreline program if necessary.
The SeaTac city council adopted the updated shoreline program after an extensive local process. The update began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions to preserve existing shoreline areas while protecting future economic development. SeaTac collaborated over two-and-a-half years with waterfront property owners, commercial property owners, real estate agents, environmental interests, and state agencies.
Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the state Shoreline Management Act passed by voters in 1972. The programs help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses and reduce interference with the public’s access to public waters and shorelines.
The law requires cities and counties with marine shorelines, lakes 20 acres in size or larger, and streams and rivers flowing at 20 cubic feet per second or greater) to develop and periodically update their locally-tailored shoreline programs.
Key features of SeaTac’s updated program include:
- Improves protection of habitat and water quality through regulations that apply to all Angle Lake waterfront property owners.
- Requires structures to be set back 65 feet from the lakeshore.
- Promotes incentives for reestablishment of vegetation buffers.
- Reduces ecological impacts of new and replacement recreational piers.
- Limits construction of new shoreline armoring and encourages the use of soft-bank erosion control methods.
- Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
- Helps support the broader Puget Sound initiative to protect and restore the Sound.
Ecology adopted new guidelines in 2003 that establish the basic requirements for updating local shoreline master programs. The guidelines resulted from a negotiated settlement between business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts.
SeaTac joins a growing number of cities, towns and counties that have updated their shoreline programs using the 2003 guidelines. The state guidelines allow each town, city and county flexibility to customize their programs to fit its local land-use circumstances and vision of local waterfront development.
More than 30 cities and counties have already updated their shoreline programs, with 70 updates currently under way. Most haven’t done so comprehensively in almost 40 years. From 1978 through 2008, the state population grew from about 3.8 million to an estimated 6.6 million people.
Starting July 1, 2009, Ecology provided $7.5 million in state grants to an additional 77 cities and counties to help them begin updating their shoreline policies and regulations – including $3 million earmarked by the 2009 Legislature specifically to help municipalities throughout the Puget Sound region.
Washington has 266 cities and counties with shorelines that qualify for grant funding and must update their shoreline programs by December 2014.