Tukwila’s Shoreline Master Program Approved

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) announced this week that they have approved Tukwila’s updated shoreline master program, which will “significantly improve the protection, use, development, restoration and water quality along the city’s 13 miles of shorelines.”

Here’s the rest from Ecology’s press release:

The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.  Tukwila has shoreline along the Duwamish, Green and Black rivers.

“Tukwila’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of our waterways.  It addresses existing and future uses as well as protecting the shoreline ecology in the city.  People representing many interests worked on this, showing that we can protect treasured shoreline resources now and for the future,” said Geoff Tallent, who oversees Ecology’s shoreline management activities in northwest Washington.

Tukwila’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. The shoreline master program process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions, and was completed with consultant support. These groups included waterfront property owners, scientists, non-profit organizations, tribal government representatives, commercial interests, and state and local resource agency staffs.

Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton stated, “After a lengthy public review process, the city is pleased to receive approval of its shoreline master program and appreciates the involvement of local citizens, businesses and interested parties in helping shape the program.  We believe the new master program supports the efforts to restore shoreline habitat while allowing local businesses and property owners to continue their uses along the City’s highly urbanized shoreline.”

Tukwila’s shoreline master program:

  • Provides an easily referenced listing of land uses the city will allow, conditionally allow or prohibit along shorelines.
  • Includes aquatic environment standards for in-water development.
  • Clarifies building height standards and establishes criteria for buildings that exceed 35 feet.
  • Guides the size and location of signs needed in the shoreline area.

Shoreline master programs are a cornerstone to state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update locally tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect access to public lands and waters.

The law requires Ecology review of each city and county shoreline program.  On approval by Ecology’s director, Ted Sturdevant, these become part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend approved local shoreline programs against legal challenges.

Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines – about 220 in total – must update their programs by December 2014. They are following regulations adopted by Ecology in 2003. The regulations carry out a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology, and the courts.

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