Appealing a Shoreline Permit

What is an appeal?

Sometimes called a "petition for review," an appeal is the legal challenge to a shoreline permit decision made by us or a local government. Shoreline permit appeals are made to the state Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB), and a copy of the appeal must be served on Ecology.

What permits can be appealed?

There are three types of shoreline permits that can be appealed to the SHB:

  • Substantial development permits: A permit for development that meets a specific dollar threshold and is considered "substantial development" under the state Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58.030(3)(e)).
  • Conditional use permit: A permit for use, development, or substantial development that is classified as a conditional use in applicable shoreline master program (SMP) or is not classified at all in the SMP.
  • Variance permit: A permit that grants relief from specific bulk, dimensional, or performance standards in the applicable SMP.

How do I appeal a shoreline permit?

All shoreline permit appeals must be made within 21 days of the date the permit was filed. To determine the date of filing (starting point for calculating when the deadline is), refer to RCW 90.58.180(1) and WAC 461-08-310.

The appealing party must submit a written appeal to both the SHB and Ecology. While an appeal can be filed with the SHB and Ecology at any point during the 21-day appeal period, appeals must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on the last filing day.

Submitting an appeal to the Shorelines Hearings Board

The petition to appeal a shoreline permit should be filed electronically with the SHB through the online Case Management System (CMS). See How to File a Petition for Review. Those who can't file an appeal electronically may file an appeal in person or use a delivery service, fax, email, or mail.

Serving an appeal on Ecology

Appeal documents must be submitted in writing to Ecology using one of the following methods.

For in-person service:
Department of Ecology
Attn: Effie Bolinger, Appeals Processing Desk
300 Desmond Drive SE
Lacey, WA 98503

For service by mail:
Department of Ecology
Attn: Effie Bolinger, Appeals Processing Desk
PO Box 47608
Olympia, WA 98504-7608

For service by email:

More information

The SHB provides guidance on how to file an appeal and what to expect during the appeal process: How to file a Petition for Review.

This is an informal guide to your right of appeal. it is not exclusive and does not have force and effect of state law or regulation.

Read more about appeals of shoreline permits in state law and rules:

  • RCW 90.58.180: Review of granting, denying, or rescinding permits by shoreline hearings board—Board to act—Local governments appeals to board—Grounds for declaring rule, regulation, or guideline invalid—Appeals to court
  • Chapter 461-08 WAC: Practice and procedure—Review of the granting, denying or rescinding of substantial development permits—Hearings
  • WAC 461-08-355: Service of petitions for review with department and attorney general—Intervention by the department and attorney general
  • WAC 173-27-140 through 170: Review criteria for shoreline permits

Appealing exemptions from the substantial development permit process (SDP exemptions)

SDP exemptions are not technically permits and cannot be appealed to the SHB. An SDP exemption decision can be appealed to Superior Court under the Land Use Petition Act (Chapter 36.70C RCW).