State approves Issaquah’s shoreline master program update

March 4, 2013

By Staff

The Washington Department of Ecology has approved Issaquah’s recently updated shoreline master program.

Issaquah’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 12 miles of shorelines and the water quality of Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish in the city.

“The SMP update expands Issaquah’s long-term commitment to protecting our streams, streamside habitat, lakeshore and water quality. And, the SMP conserves shoreline resources through thoughtful land use and development while providing public access and recreation opportunities along our shorelines,” Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said in a statement.

The revised master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

“Issaquah’s shoreline master program helps protect the economic and environmental health of Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish. It is a major milestone in protecting our treasured shoreline resources now and in future generations. Our shorelines make Washington a great place to live,” said Geoff Tallent, who oversees the Department of Ecology’s shoreline management activities in northwest Washington.

Learn more about Issaquah’s shoreline master program at or

Cities and counties statewide are, 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 locally tailored programs to 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.

Diverse local interests collaborated on the shoreline master program update. The groups included shoreline property owners, scientists, nonprofit organizations, tribal government representatives, and state and local resource agency staff members. The process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions and completed with consultant support.

Issaquah’s shoreline master program:

  • Incorporates the city’s critical areas regulations, which includes 100 foot stream buffers and flood hazard standards.
  • Recognizes the preservation of existing intact riparian (streamside) areas along Issaquah Creek within urban conservancy, residential and commercial shoreline environment designations.
  • Recognizes shoreline management differences between Issaquah Creek and Lake Sammamish based on separate shoreline environments, use and modification standards.
  • 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, a local shoreline program takes effect upon approval by the department. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program. The department will help defend Issaquah’s shoreline program against legal challenges.

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


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