Chapter 23.10


23.10.010    Authority.

23.10.020    Purpose and intent.

23.10.030    Governing principles.

23.10.040    Title.

23.10.050    Short title.

23.10.060    References to plans, regulations or information sources.

23.10.070    Liberal construction.

23.10.080    Severability.

23.10.090    Effective date.

23.10.010 Authority.

Authority for enactment and administration of this program is the Shoreline Management Act of 1971, Chapter 90.58 RCW, also referred to herein as “the Act.” (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.020 Purpose and intent.

The purposes of this program are:

A. To promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community by providing long range, comprehensive policies and effective, reasonable regulations for development and use of Whatcom County shorelines; and

B. To manage shorelines in a positive, effective, and equitable manner; and

C. To further assume and carry out the responsibilities established by the Act for Whatcom County, and to adopt and foster the following policy contained in RCW 90.58.020 for shorelines of the state:

It is the policy of the State to provide for the management of the shorelines of the State by planning for and fostering all reasonable and appropriate uses. This policy is designed to insure the development of these shorelines in a manner which, while allowing for limited reduction of rights of the public in the navigable waters, will promote and enhance the public interest. This policy contemplates protecting against adverse effects to the public health, the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the waters of the State and their aquatic life, while protecting generally public rights of navigation and corollary rights incidental thereto...

In the implementation of this policy the public’s opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the State shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the State and the people generally. To this end uses shall be preferred which are consistent with control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment or are unique to or dependent upon use of the State’s shoreline. Alterations of the natural condition of the shorelines of the State, in those limited instances when authorized, shall be given priority for single family residences and their appurtenant structures, ports, shoreline recreational uses including but not limited to parks, marinas, piers, and other improvements facilitating public access to shorelines of the State, industrial and commercial developments which are particularly dependent on their location on or use of the shorelines of the State and other development that will provide an opportunity for substantial numbers of the people to enjoy the shorelines of the State…

Permitted uses in the shorelines of the State shall be designed and conducted in a manner to minimize, insofar as practical, any resultant damage to the ecology and environment of the shoreline area and any interference with the public’s use of the water.

(Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.030 Governing principles.

The following principles along with the policy statements of RCW 90.58.020 establish basic concepts that underpin the goals, policies and regulations of this program:

A. Any inconsistencies between this program and the Act must be resolved in accordance with the Act.

B. The policies of this program may be achieved by diverse means, one of which is regulation. Other means, authorized by the Act, include but are not limited to: acquisition of lands and/or easements by purchase or gift, incentive programs, and implementation of capital facility and/or nonstructural programs.

C. Protecting the shoreline environment is an essential statewide policy goal, consistent with other policy goals. Permitted and/or exempt development, actions taken prior to the Act’s adoption, and/or unregulated activities can impair shoreline ecological processes and functions. This program protects shoreline ecology from such impairments in the following ways:

1. By using a process that identifies, inventories, and ensures meaningful understanding of current and potential ecological functions provided by shorelines.

2. By including policies and regulations that require mitigation of significant adverse impacts in a manner that ensures no net loss of shoreline ecological functions. The required mitigation shall include avoidance, minimization, and compensation of impacts in accordance with the policies and regulations for mitigation sequencing in WCC 23.90.030 and the Whatcom County critical areas ordinance (Chapter 16.16 WCC). This program and any future amendment hereto shall ensure no net loss of shoreline ecological functions and processes on a programmatic basis in accordance with the baseline functions present as of the date of adoption of this program, February 27, 2007.

3. By including policies and regulations to address cumulative impacts, including ensuring that the cumulative effect of exempt development will not cause a net loss of shoreline ecological functions, and by fairly allocating the burden of addressing such impacts among development opportunities.

4. By including regulations and regulatory incentives designed to protect shoreline ecological functions, and restore impaired ecological functions where such opportunities have been identified, consistent with the Shoreline Management Program Restoration Plan developed by Whatcom County.

D. Regulation of private property to implement program goals such as public access and protection of ecological functions and processes must be consistent with all relevant constitutional and other legal limitations. These include, but are not limited to, civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. and state Constitutions, recent federal and state case law, and state statutes, such as RCW 34.05.328 and 43.21C.060 and Chapter 82.02 RCW.

E. Regulatory or administrative actions contained herein must be implemented consistent with the public trust doctrine and other applicable legal principles as appropriate and must not unconstitutionally infringe on private property rights or result in an unconstitutional taking of private property.

F. The regulatory provisions of this program are limited to shorelines of the state, whereas the planning functions of this program may extend beyond the designated shoreline boundaries.

G. The policies and regulations established by the program must be integrated and coordinated with those policies and rules of the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan and development regulations adopted under the Growth Management Act (GMA) and RCW 34.05.328.

H. Consistent with the policy and use preferences of RCW 90.58.020, Whatcom County should balance the various policy goals of this program giving consideration to other relevant local, state, and federal regulatory and nonregulatory programs. (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.040 Title.

This title shall be known and may be cited as “The Whatcom County Shoreline Management Program.” (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.050 Short title.

This title may be referred to herein as the “SMP,” or the “program.” (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.060 References to plans, regulations or information sources.

A. The Whatcom County critical areas ordinance, Chapter 16.16 WCC (Ordinance No. 2005-068, dated September 30, 2005, and as amended on February 27, 2007) is hereby adopted in whole as a part of this program, except that the permit, nonconforming use, appeal and enforcement provisions of the critical areas ordinance (WCC 16.16.270 through 16.16.285) shall not apply within shoreline jurisdiction. All references to the critical areas ordinance (CAO), Chapter 16.16 WCC, are for this specific version.

B. Where this program makes reference to any RCW, WAC, or other state or federal law or regulation, the most recent amendment or current edition shall apply.

C. Stipulated Judgment No. 93-2-02447-6 between Governor’s Point Development Company and Whatcom County, the state of Washington, and the Department of Ecology is incorporated by reference into Whatcom County’s shoreline management program. A copy of the judgment is on file with the Whatcom County planning and development services department. (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.070 Liberal construction.

As provided for in RCW 90.58.900, the Act is exempted from the rule of strict construction; the Act and this program shall therefore be liberally construed to give full effect to the purposes, goals, objectives, and policies for which the Act and this program were enacted and adopted, respectively. (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.080 Severability.

The Act and this program adopted pursuant thereto comprise the basic state and county law regulating use of shorelines in the county. In the event provisions of this program conflict with other applicable county policies or regulations, the more restrictive shall prevail. Should any section or provision of this program be declared invalid, such decision shall not affect the validity of this program as a whole. (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).

23.10.090 Effective date.

This program and all amendments thereto shall become effective immediately upon final approval and adoption by the Department of Ecology. (Ord. 2009-13 § 1 (Exh. 1)).