Washington Shoreline Master Program Handbook: Appendix A – Addressing Sea Level Rise in Shoreline Master Programs

The Shoreline Master Programs Handbook, developed by Washington Department of Ecology, provides guidance to help local governments meet the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58) and the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines (WAC 173-26, Part III). Appendix A of the Handbook directs planners on how to incorporate sea level rise planning into the broader framework of shoreline management planning.

The Shoreline Management Act, which seeks to coordinate development of the state’s shorelines, requires coastal cities and counties to adopt a Shoreline Master Program that combines the functions of a comprehensive plan, a zoning ordinance, and a development permit system for shoreline areas. Although the Act does not require consideration of sea level rise in Shoreline Master Programs, the Department of Ecology developed these guidelines to assist local governments that wish to incorporate sea level rise planning with other development planning for their state shoreline areas.

The sea level rise appendix provides projections for sea level rise in three shoreline regions of Washington – Puget Sound, the northwest Olympic peninsula, and the central and southern outer coast.  The projections are detailed in a previous report co-authored by the Dept. of Ecology and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, “Sea Level Rise in the Coastal Waters of Washington State” (see separate resource entry). Using examples from existing countywide draft Shoreline Master Program plans that incorporated sea level rise and climate change adaptation, the appendix details the steps and tasks involved in shoreline management planning that are particularly relevant to consideration of sea level rise impacts.

The guidance was initially developed in 2010 and most recently revised in December 2017.

Publication Date: December 2017 Revision

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