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Chapters 173-18, -20, -22, -26, and -27 WAC, Shoreline Management Act Rules Update

Ecology, Department of
Title of action
Chapters 173-18, -20, -22, -26, and -27 WAC, Shoreline Management Act Rules Update
Date significant agency action was initiated
Thursday, May 2, 2024
Significant legislative rules
Brief description of significant agency actions for which the agency is initiating an environmental justice assessment.
The Department of Ecology is conducting rulemaking to amend Chapters 173-18, -20, -22, -26, and -27 under the Shoreline Management Act. These Chapters contain Ecology’s rules that carry out the provisions of the Shoreline Management Act. This includes the guidelines for local governments developing, amending, and administering shoreline master programs (SMPs) and standards for SMP administration, permitting, and enforcement. During this rulemaking, we will amend each of these WACs to ensure that our rules are current, reflect changes to the Shoreline Management Act, and clearly and efficiently guide local governments in upholding the goals of the Act. The scope of this rulemaking will be refined through the public engagement process but will include sea level rise. Some of the other topics we are considering may include shoreline stabilization, critical area protections, channel migration zones, mooring buoys, and more. Ecology is amending Chapter 173-26 and 173-27 WAC to: • Comply with the Shoreline Management Act (Chapter 90.58 RCW) and address issues that have we have identified through the review, adoption, and implementation of SMPs. These revisions will provide clarity around SMP approval/amendment procedures and permit and enforcement procedures. Additional amendments may be included for clarity. • Add requirements for local governments to address the impact of sea level rise and increased storm severity on people, property, and shoreline natural resources and the environment. Ecology is also amending Chapters 173-18 and -20 WAC, to update the list of streams, rivers, and lakes in completed SMP updates and amending Chapter 173-22 WAC to clarify designations of shorelands and wetlands associated with shorelines of the state. This rulemaking will be statewide. However, the specific requirement to address the impact of sea level rise and increased storm severity will apply only to jurisdictions with marine shorelines.
Methods for providing public comment for agency consideration as part of the environmental justice assessment.
For this rulemaking, Ecology will develop and follow a communication plan for public outreach, including a dedicated focus on connecting with people from overburdened communities and vulnerable populations. For the environmental justice assessment, we plan to connect through multiple methods, such as virtual meetings and listening sessions, which will take place in 2024 and 2025. There will also be additional opportunities for people to connect during the rulemaking public comment period and public hearings. To learn more about the rulemaking process and opportunities to get involved, visit our website, which will be updated with more information. You can also join our email list, which is also on our webpage.