Shoreline permits & enforcement

Issuing shoreline permits, reviewing and approving exemptions, and enforcing shoreline regulations are the ways local governments implement their Shoreline Master Programs. Shoreline master programs include regulations for development within shoreline jurisdiction. Those regulations generally apply whether or not a shoreline permit is required. Learn more on our Shoreline Planners Toolbox page.

Start with your local government

Local government has the primary responsibility for administering shoreline programs. We primarily provide technical support to local governments and have the authority to approve two of the three types of shoreline permits.

Substantial development permits

One type of shoreline permit is a substantial development permit. This permit is required for most development that meets a specific dollar threshold and is considered “substantial development” under the state Shoreline Management Act.

Some types of development are exempt from requirements for a substantial development permit. The law (RCW.90.58.030(3)(e)) calls out shoreline development and activities that are not considered substantial development and therefore are not subject to this specific permit requirement.

Conditional use and variance permits

Local governments and Ecology must approve shoreline conditional use and variance permits. One or more permits may be required for a development project. For example, a project may need both a substantial development and a conditional use permit. Or, a conditional use or variance permit may be required, while a substantial development permit is not required.