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Shoreline Master Program


Page last updated: June 4, 2007

Port Townsend’s shorelines are a treasured natural resource offering a variety of marine life, spectacular vistas and both recreational and economic opportunities.   We are attracted to the beauty and bounty of our shorelines; we wish to build our homes and restaurants here, harvest fish and crab, moor our boats.  Unfortunately, activities such as these may threaten the very qualities that attracted us here.  How do we balance the competing interests of development/use with the preservation of the shoreline ecology?  That is the charge of the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP). 

View a Copy of the City’s Shoreline Master Program

City of Port Townsend Shoreline Master Program February 14th, 2007 7.5mb

What is an SMP?

The Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is a plan containing both policies and regulations that apply to shoreline areas.  In Port Townsend, shorelines include Port Townsend Bay, Admiralty Inlet, Straits of Juan de Fuca, Kah Tai Lagoon, and Chinese Gardens Lagoon.   The SMP is intended to provide for environmental protection, appropriate development, and public access.  

The City and State Department of Ecology jointly administer the Shoreline Master Program.  The Department of Ecology adopted new SMP guidelines in December 2003 (WAC 173-26).

For background on the origin of shoreline master programs and the Act that started it all, see the state’s website:

What is a Shoreline Master Program? (Ecology introduction). 

Introduction to the Shoreline Management Act (Ecology web page)  

History of the Shoreline Master Program Update

In 2001, the city launched a multi-phased effort to update its 1974 Shoreline Master Program. An update was necessary to recognize evolving state law, community interests, and an ever-growing body of scientific data.  Following is a brief outline of the process spanning over five years.

§        2001-  In the early stages, the City conducted an inventory and assessment of existing shoreline conditions, producing an atlas and a summary report. 

§       2002-2005, The city convened a group of stakeholders representing a diversity of interests (including but not limited to recreational, business, environmental) to serve as an advisory body in development of the SMP.  The Shoreline Advisory Group began by assigning provisional shoreline designations, basically “zoning” designations for shoreline areas.  They discussed draft goals, policies and regulations.  A first complete draft of the master program was issued to the group on May 5, 2005.  The public was invited to speak at each of the 25 meetings held by the Shoreline Advisory Group.  Two ad-hoc committees were formed, one to focus on appropriate uses for Point Hudson and the other to refine the Restoration chapter.  After much review, discussion and debate, the Group forwarded an updated draft master program to the Planning Commission on July 7, 2005. 

§         Summer 2005 - Planning Commission held an open record public hearing over the course of nine meetings.  Key issues of discussion at the commission meetings included but were not limited to: preservation of marine trades at Point Hudson and Boat Haven, location of mixed-use developments, impervious surface limits, setback requirements, and restoration incentives.  Finally, the Planning Commission voted 6-0-2 to recommend approval of the Draft Shoreline Master Program.

§         Fall 2005  - City Council held six public meetings and heard public testimony on the draft master program.  On December 20th, 2005 the Council adopted Resolution 04-056 approving the draft Shoreline Master Program and directed staff to forward the document to the Department of Ecology for their review in accordance with RCW 90.58.090.

§         Fall 2006 -the Department of Ecology issued Findings and Conclusions and Ecology Required Changes.   The Department of Ecology also provided Ecology Recommended Changes – for the city’s consideration.   

§         Winter 2006 -07- The City elected to hold public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council prior to accepting or suggesting modifications to the Department of Ecology’s Required and Recommended Changes.  On January 8, 2007, after receiving and considering public testimony and reviewing the recommendations of the Planning Commission, City Council adopted the updated Shoreline Master Program (Ordinance 2938).

§         The Department of Ecology took final action on the Shoreline Master Program on February 14, 2007 and opened one last public notice initiating a 60-day appeal period.  There were no appeals.

“Water is an integral part of the fabric of the Port Townsend culture.  The new SMP will allow the community to continue to enjoy the natural, social, cultural, economic and aesthetic values we place on our waterfront.” (Mayor Mark Welch 2007)

Where Can I Review/Purchase a Copy of the SMP?

A copy of the Shoreline Master Program is posted on this website.  Hard copies of the document are available for public review at the City Clerk’s office on the Second Floor of City Hall, 250 Madison Street, Port Townsend.



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