The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Burien’s updated shoreline master program.
Burien’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of shorelines on approximately 5.5 miles of Puget Sound and 1.2 miles of Lake Burien.
“The shoreline master program update effort has been a long and challenging process for us,” said Mayor Brian Bennett. “The city is very pleased that all parties involved worked collaboratively to craft a program that meets the goals of both Burien’s residents and the region in maintaining and protecting one of our most valuable resources.” The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.
“Burien’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of our waters, including Puget Sound. Ecology greatly appreciates the commitment of Burien’s citizens and city council to forge a program that meets state standards and the needs of the local community,” said Gordon White, manager of Ecology’s shorelands program.
Cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or developing their master programs under the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act.
Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the act. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs, which help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.
Burien’s staff and elected officials worked with citizens groups to develop a unique process to finalize the program for Ecology approval. Earlier stages made use of Ecology funding to engage assistance from a consultant to prepare a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions in the city’s shoreline areas.
Burien’s shoreline master program:
– Integrates shoreline regulations with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code;
– Establishes protective buffers with the flexibility to reduce them based on individual property circumstances;
– Allows for public access to public lands;
– Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods, and limits construction of new shoreline armoring;
– 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 initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
Under state law, the local shoreline plan must be approved by Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. Ecology will help defend city’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines must update their programs by December 2014.
Press Release, October 16, 2013