City Council To Review State’s Demands For Changes In Local Shoreline Plan

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by Ralph Nichols

Last summer, when Burien City Council members were updating the local Shoreline Master Program (SMP), the state Department of Ecology never defined “no net loss of ecological function” – the legislative yardstick for many shoreline regulations.

And when Ecology recently sent that SMP back to Burien – with conditional approval provided the city makes to its plan the changes required by the state – it did so again without a working definition of “no net loss.”

The city’s next move will be discussed at tonight’s Burien City Council meeting (7 p.m., May 9; PDF of agenda here), which likely will include a new volley of comments by concerned homeowners in defense of property rights and local control.

Changes that Ecology says Burien must make to its SMP include:

  • Requiring a maximum 50-foot buffer plus a 15-foot setback for new development on marine shorelines. The city approved SMP retained the existing 20-foot marine buffer with no additional setback. Ecology says a reduced buffer may be allowed in some cases if neighboring homes are closer to the shoreline.
  • Removing an outright ban on watercraft on Lake Burien should public access occur in the future.
  • Keeping a single-family home in “conforming” status, even if it requires a variance to expand on shoreline property.

In a draft response to Ecology’s required changes, which council members will review, city staff opposes amending these provisions of the SMP.

Staff also opposes changing language that could prohibit the rebuilding of a legally established home if it was destroyed.

No action by the city council is expected at tonight’s meeting. However, staff will be asking council members for direction.

The city can agree to the changes required by Ecology, or it can submit an alternative proposal back to Ecology. If an alternative is submitted by Burien but then denied by Ecology, the city has an option to request a restart of the review and approval process.

Every city and county in Washington is required by a 2003 legislative action to review and update their local SMPs, which were mandated by the 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act, with direction and review by Ecology.

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2 Responses to “City Council To Review State’s Demands For Changes In Local Shoreline Plan”
  1. Three Tree Dem says:

    Oh joy, here we go again. Good thing all these government entities are over-flowing with budget money to waste on more tail chasing.

  2. Coverofnight says:

    Right on, 3Tree….one of the few things I’ll agree on with a Democrat. My comment on the article though, is why only two solutions? Agree or submit an alternative…….why not stand up to them and tell Ecology that this is the way we’re doing it? Go pound sand on some other City’s shoreline!

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