Shoreline planners toolbox

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Shoreline Management Act Rulemaking

We are starting the rulemaking process to amend Chapters 173-18, -20, -22, -26, and -27 under the Shoreline Management Act. Visit the rulemaking page for more information.

This toolbox is designed for local and state shoreline planners responsible for developing and administering Shoreline Master Programs. Users will find links to our webpages, publications, and guidance to help with:

  • Permitting
  • Resolving shoreline management issues
  • Developing and updating Shoreline Master Programs
  • Researching laws and rules
  • Shoreline Planning Grant opportunities

If you don't find what you need, please contact the regional planner serving your city or county government.

Administration of Shoreline Master Programs

Shoreline master programs (SMPs) are locally tailored policies and use and development regulations that implement the state Shoreline Management ACt (SMA) and are:

  • Adopted by local governments
  • Reviewed and approved by Ecology

SMPs are both state and local planning and regulatory documents that represent a unique partnership between Ecology and local governments. Local governments review and issue a decision on all shoreline permits before filing them with us. We file all permits and make final decisions on locally approved conditional use and variance permits.

Each SMP contains elements that are required by statute and rule, such as:

  • Shoreline environment designations (SEDs) with customized management policies, regulations, and use allowances/prohibitions
  • Policies and regulations for shoreline uses, modifications, and development
  • Vegetation conservation standards
  • Public access requirements
  • Shoreline buffers and/or setbacks
  • Cirtical areas protection standards

Once a local government comprehensively updates its SMP, local administrators ensure compliance with the SMA through the careful and complete implementation of the SMP during the day-to-day review of individual development proposals. The following guidance documents are intended to help local governments implement their SMPs consistent with the SMA and state rules:

Shoreline permit filing

All shoreline permits must be filed with Ecology and have a 21-day state appeal period. You can email shoreline permits to smp@ecy.wa.govWhile we still accept mailed submittals, we prefer email. Make sure your email contains a complete submittal following the requirements of WAC 173-27-130 and WAC 173-27-180, including the permit data sheet.

Note: We will email you confirmation within five days for a shoreline substantial development permit submittal. If you do not receive an email confirmation within five days, contact your shoreline permit reviewer. For conditional use permits and variances, we try to finish our review and issue a decision within 30 days of receiving your complete submittal.


We have awarded funds to local jurisdictions for 24 projects under the 2023-25 Shoreline Planning Competitive Grant Program. Projects are focused on shoreline planning and planning-related efforts that advance climate resilience, improve the implementation of shoreline master programs, or support local shoreline planning priorities. 

Funding information

  • There was approximately $3 million available for funding
  • Each grant award limit was $250,000
  • No matching funds were required
  • Grant applications were accepted from July 5 through Aug. 17, 2023
  • Grants awarded started Oct. 2, 2023, and end June 30, 2025

More information 

Visit our Shoreline planning competitive grants page for more information.The 2023-2025 Shoreline Planning Competitive grant is administered through Ecology's Administration of Grants and Loans (EAGL) system.

We previously offered two separate shoreline planning grant programs. One was a non-competitive formula grant, offered to local governments to supplement the fund requirements for completing their statutorily required SMP periodic reviews. This funding program will be offered in the future when SMP periodic reviews are required again. The other was a pilot competitive grant program intended to provide more flexible funding to local governments for locally driven, priority shoreline planning efforts.

Shoreline master program amendments

Under the state Shoreline Management Act, counties, cities, and towns with shorelines of the state are required to develop a shoreline master program, complete a one-time comprehensive update, and then periodically review their land-use policies and regulations governing shoreline uses within their jurisdiction every 10 years. These locally tailored SMPs are adopted and approved by each local government, as well as Ecology. 

The Shoreline Master Programs Handbook is a guide for local governments that are developing or updating Shoreline master programs in Washington. The Handbook provides guidance for meeting the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58), the shoreline master program guidelines (WAC 173-26, Part III) and the SMP procedural rules (WAC 173-26, Parts I and II). The Handbook also provides information and resources to help in making decisions on SMP environment designations, policies, and regulations. Topics such as shoreline stabilization, aquaculture, critical areas, and public participation are covered as well.