Lake Forest Park shoreline master program approved

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Boardwalk, Lyons Creek Park on
Lake Washington
Photo by Carl Dinse
...helps protect and restore Lake Washington and Puget Sound

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Lake Forest Park’s updated shoreline master program.

The city’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the protection, use, development and restoration of 2.2 miles of shorelines and the water quality of Lake Washington.

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

“We greatly appreciate Lake Forest Park’s commitment in update its shoreline master program,” said Erik Stockdale, Ecology’s regional shorelines program supervisor. “City staff, elected officials and numerous other people devoted significant time and energy toward this effort. With its updates, Lake Forest Park’s shoreline program will ensure long-term protection of shoreline areas adjacent to Lake Washington.”

Cities, towns and counties statewide are in the process of, 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 their 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.

Lake Forest Park’s process brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively. The  process began with a thorough inventory of existing land-use patterns and environmental conditions that were  completed with consultant support.

The city established a shoreline advisory group at the start of  the process to represent waterfront property owners, parks and recreational interests, and community clubs. The city also reached out to tribal government representatives and state and local resource agency staff throughout the update process.

The Lake Forest Park shoreline master program:
  • Integrates shoreline regulations with the city’s growth management planning and zoning, stormwater management, and parks and recreation plans as well as critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code applicable to shoreline areas within the city.
  • Establishes protective shoreline setbacks and buffers with the option to reduce  setbacks or buffers based on individual property circumstances.
  • Provides specific provisions for repair, replacement and construction of new residential docks and piers to ensure minimal impacts to Lake Washington.
  • 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 Lake Washington and Puget Sound. 

Under state law, the local shoreline program must be approved by the State Department of Ecology before taking effect. It then becomes part of the state shoreline master program and the department will help defend the city’s 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 Ecology 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, Ecology and the courts.


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