Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Shoreline Management Act?
Washington's Shoreline Management Act, adopted by the public in a 1972 referendum, is intended to "prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines," and has three broad policies:
- Encourage water-dependent uses: "Uses shall be preferred which are consistent with control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment, or are unique to or dependent upon use of the states' shorelines...”
- Protect shoreline natural resources, including "...the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the water of the state and their aquatic life..."
- Promote public access: "The public's opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally."
Why are we doing this?
The state Department of Ecology's adoption of new shoreline master program guidelines in 2003 initiated a new generation of shoreline planning in Washington. The guidelines were developed as part of a year-long negotiated settlement that also led to adoption of shoreline legislation that established a new schedule for updating local shoreline regulations. Bellevue's shoreline management plan has not received a comprehensive update since 1974.
What is required?
Under the Shoreline Management Act, each city and county with "shorelines of the state" must adopt a shoreline master plan that is based on state laws and rules, but tailored to the specific geographic, economic and environmental needs of the community. A shoreline master plan is essentially a comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance with a distinct environmental orientation applicable to shoreline areas customized to local circumstances. Shoreline master plan process
When it updates its shoreline management program, Bellevue is required to meet state shoreline management guidelines, balancing the three main policies stated in the Shoreline Management Act, but there are other objectives too.
Throughout the process, the city plans to engage all interested parties early and continuously. The city will also request citizen input about how they want to see the city develop or protect its own shoreline ownership.
Focus will also be on a robust restoration plan, in order to provide Bellevue with multiple restoration opportunities and options for citizens for mitigation. Finally, the update will provide a baseline of information from which future planning efforts will be measured and built upon.