Pierce County Shoreline Master Program

On Oct. 12, 2018, we approved Pierce County's Shoreline Master Program (SMP) comprehensive update.

Pierce County's updated shoreline program is effective Oct. 26, 2018, 14 days after we provided notice to the county that their SMP was approved.

On May 31, 2018, we provided Pierce County with required and recommended changes to the county's proposed comprehensive update of their SMP. The changes are based on our review of whether or not the proposed update complies with state laws and rules, and  a public comment period held March 15 through April 29, 2016. Our decision includes changes to the SMP that will help the county meet its periodic review requirements. The county is required on or before June 30, 2019, to review, and if necessary, revise their SMP. Proposed changes ensure the SMP complies with any laws and guidelines that have changed since the SMP was locally adopted.

County response

On Oct. 9, 2018, the county responded to us that they were accepting all our required changes as well as changes related to the 2019 periodic review. Additionally, the county accepted some of our recommended changes, partially accepted others, and declined to accept 32 other recommended changes. These are outlined below.

The county:

  • Accepted 32 recommended changes: 1, 2, 4-6, 8, 20, 25, 27-35, 40, 41, 43-46, 48, 49, 52, 53, 55, 62-65
  • Partially accepted three recommended changes: 9, 37, and 60
  • Slightly revised recommended change 14, replacing "should" with "shall' in the last sentence
  • Declined to accept 32 other recommended changes: 3, 7, 10-13, 15-19, 21-24, 26, 36, 38, 39, 42, 47, 50, 51, 54, 56-59, 61, 66, 67, 68

As a cross reference, we have incorporated the county's response into revised Attachment B and Attachment C.

Mail and email notices were used to notify interested parties of the public comment period held March 15 through April 29, 2016. We also issued a news release, blog post, and a legal ad to encourage additional public participation and comment. An open house and public hearing were held at Pacific Lutheran University on March 30, 2016. More than 50 people attended the hearing and 26 individuals testified. We received verbal and written comments from more than 130 individuals/organizations. Comments focused on aquaculture, proposed shoreline environment designations, water access facilities, public participation, tribal treaty rights, and a variety of other topics. On May 31, 2016, we sent a summary of comments to the county for their response. The public comments and county’s responses have been incorporated into a Responsiveness Summary (Attachment D).

This is the first comprehensive update of Pierce County’s shoreline program originally adopted in 1975. The updated SMP would entirely replace the existing program including the goals, policies, regulations, shoreline environment designations, definitions, and administrative procedures. The SMP will advance shoreline habitat protection while planning for new development, public access and the continuation of existing development along more than 1,100 miles of shoreline, including all marine waters, numerous streams and lakes and associated wetlands. The proposed SMP adopts the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance (Pierce County Code Title 18E, Critical Areas) by reference to protect and manage critical areas within shoreline jurisdiction.   

Documents related to approval

Note: All documents are PDF

Locally adopted SMP

Background documents

Paper copies of the above documents are available by contacting Kim Van Zwalenburg.


  • Per RCW 90.58.190(2) and RCW 36.70A.290, an interested party may file an appeal with the Growth Management Hearings Board within 60 days of the publication date of our written notice of final action.
  • We plan to publish the notice of final action in the News Tribune legal ads on Oct. 22, 2018