Chapter 22.02


22.02.010    General goals and policies.

22.02.020    Shoreline goals.

22.02.010 General goals and policies.

The goals and policies of this SMP are intended to be comprehensive goal statements. These statements reflect and carry forward the “shoreline” elements within the various plans listed below:

A. Department of Ecology Shoreline Master Program Guidelines, Chapter 173-26 WAC (2003);

B. Waterfront Futures Group (WFG) Framework and Action Plan (October 2004) and Resolution No. 2005-04 adopting the Guiding Principles and endorsing sub-area recommendations and early action items;

C. City of Bellingham Comprehensive Plan (2006) and applicable individual neighborhood plans;

D. Final Environmental Impact Statement – City of Bellingham Comprehensive Plan Update (2004);

E. Port of Bellingham Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements;

F. Whatcom Creek Waterfront Action Plan (1998);

G. Squalicum Creek Floodplain Management Plan (1994);

H. Watershed Master Plan (1995), as amended;

I. City of Bellingham Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2005);

J. Whatcom Creek Trail Master Plan (1995); and

K. Squalicum Creek Greenway Master Plan (1995). [Ord. 2013-02-005 § 2 (Exh. 1)].

22.02.020 Shoreline goals.

A. Shoreline Use. The shoreline use element considers the proposed general distribution and general location and extent of the use of shorelines and adjacent land areas for housing, business, industry, transportation, agriculture, natural resources, recreation, education, public buildings and grounds, utilities and other categories of public and private land use.

1. Goal.

a. Coordinate shoreline uses to insure uses that result in long-term over short-term benefit, protect and restore the shoreline resources and ecological functions, increase public access to the shoreline, and promote economic development and accommodate water-dependent uses.

2. Objectives.

a. Upland areas adjacent to waters with appropriate depth shipping channels should be preserved for water-dependent and water-related uses unless otherwise stated. Water-enjoyment uses should be provided where substantial numbers of citizens can enjoy access to the water, physical or visual. (RCW 90.58.020)

b. Marine shorelines such as Boulevard, Marine, Zuanich Point Parks and Little Squalicum Beach should be preserved for long-term water-enjoyment and public access, and the shorelines in said locations should be restored and/or at least bioengineered to provide improved shoreline ecological function.

c. Shoreline mixed-use development should be promoted in the areas between the historic Georgia Pacific (GP) log pond and Roeder Avenue, between the Taylor Avenue Dock and BNRR trestle in Fairhaven, Squalicum Marine Center between the inner and outer boat basins, the Squalicum Peninsula and the Cornwall Avenue Landfill. Shoreline mixed uses should be located in these areas due to their waterfront location, proximity to high-density residential areas, trail linkages and urban core areas (central business district and Fairhaven).

d. Where shoreline mixed uses occur, those areas should also be targeted for the restoration of shoreline ecological function.

e. At the time of annexation, the Mount Baker Plywood Peninsula should be considered a preferable area for mixed-use water-oriented development. These mixed-use shoreline developments have the opportunity to restore shoreline ecological functions, attract substantial numbers of citizens to the shoreline for public access, and stimulate economic development.

f. The Whatcom, Squalicum, Chuckanut and Padden Creek estuary systems as well as those pocket estuaries identified on the Marine maps in Chapter 22.11 BMC should be restored to achieve a net gain in ecological function. Restoration may include, but should not be limited to:

i. Creation of intertidal zone and bank resloping;

ii. Landfill, debris and piling removal;

iii. Remediation of contaminated aquatic and upland sediments;

iv. Establishment of native riparian and aquatic vegetation;

v. Identification of appropriate public access opportunities.

g. The Whatcom, Squalicum and Chuckanut Creek corridors should be restored and enhanced to achieve a net gain in shoreline ecological function.

h. Lagoons that are defined as pocket estuaries and pocket beaches, despite being heavily impacted over time, should be restored and protected for their ability to support a variety of marine and upland species, especially salmon.

i. Impacts to Lake Whatcom as a drinking water source and a recreational area should be minimized. Uses within the Lake Whatcom watershed should be guided by Joint Resolution Nos. 92-73 and 92-68 and the Lake Whatcom Reservoir regulatory chapter (Chapter 16.80 BMC). Impervious surfaces and in-water and over-water structures should be reduced or minimized and native vegetation should be retained or established to help reduce impacts to this valuable resource. These local directives are mission statements for the city of Bellingham, Whatcom County and Water District No. 10 to protect and improve the water quality within the Lake Whatcom watershed.

j. Lake Padden should be regulated and preserved as a regional recreational attraction. The lake shoreline should be preserved and enhanced where feasible to improve the shoreline ecology and public access opportunities. Existing and new upland activities should be developed and/or monitored to preserve water quality for continued water-enjoyment and ecological function.

B. Restoration and Conservation. The restoration and conservation element provides for the preservation of existing and rehabilitation of degraded natural resources, ecosystem processes and functions, scenic vistas, and aesthetics. (Specific restoration sites called out in this section are examples and are not an exhaustive compilation. Please see the restoration plan, Appendix B, for listings.)

1. Goal.

a. Restoration and conservation should occur via comprehensive restoration planning, public land acquisition, placing of conservation easements, site design and as development/redevelopment occurs. Activities that restore and enhance ecological functions of our shorelines should be emphasized. This master program’s regulations and policies are required to achieve no net loss of shoreline ecological function on a reach and watershed scale. The restoration priority goals and objectives in the restoration plan (Appendix B) are intended to restore and improve ecological functions of our shorelines citywide.

2. Objectives.

a. Restoration should improve the ecological functions of aquatic and upland areas within shorelines.

b. Shoreline restoration and conservation efforts should be coordinated with Whatcom County, port of Bellingham and other public agencies, especially for shoreline systems whose watersheds extend into county jurisdiction.

c. Development should take appropriate steps to avoid shoreline modification and stabilization, utilize a range of low impact development techniques, minimize site disturbance, and avoid or minimize impacts to critical areas within shorelines.

d. Redevelopment should be encouraged to improve ecological functions and restore riparian buffers where feasible.

e. Shorelines of Lake Whatcom should be restored in such a manner that bulkheads are removed, in-water structures are minimized, and a variety of native vegetation is planted within close proximity to the shoreline so that natural processes are reintroduced.

f. Restoration projects should be consistent with management recommendations developed by the Lake Whatcom Interjurisdictional Coordinating Team (ICT) and the TMDL Response Plan (10-5-09 WS) as referenced in the restoration plan, Appendix B.

g. Shoreline modification that is intended to restore shorelines impacted by historical uses should be designed and constructed to restore natural processes within shorelines.

h. Restoration should be conducted in such a manner as to be consistent with the priority goals and objectives within the restoration plan, Appendix B.

i. Voluntary restoration should occur as resources become available with guidance from the restoration plan, Appendix B.

j. Comprehensive restoration planning should implement a framework of citywide restoration goals and priorities consistent with RCW 90.58.340, including for the non-SMA stream drainages and wetlands contributing to the shorelines of the state. Restoration planning should also prioritize projects so that when resources are made available, projects will already be identified for their anticipated improvements to our natural systems.

k. Squalicum, Whatcom, Padden and Chuckanut Creek estuaries as well as other tidally influenced lagoons or pocket estuaries and pocket beaches should be restored in order to provide an improved level of habitat function and processes. These pocket estuaries are valuable for their diversity of aquatic and upland species habitat opportunities and their ability to support non-natal anadromous fish. As redevelopment occurs adjacent to these areas, these estuaries should be restored to achieve the following:

i. Improved tidal floodwater attenuation;

ii. Improved nutrient filtering and recycling;

iii. Higher quality shellfish habitat;

iv. Increased biological support and habitat value for juvenile salmonids and other upland species;

v. Shoreline stabilization and large woody debris (LWD) recruitment via native vegetation.

l. Restoration efforts should be consistent with the Function Analysis sections for each shoreline reach within the 2004 City of Bellingham Shoreline Characterization and Inventory (SCI).

m. Bellingham’s shorelines and their ecological functions should be inventoried simultaneous with future updates to the shoreline master program and the city’s critical areas ordinance in order to determine if there has been a net gain in overall ecological function of our shoreline areas and within our watersheds.

n. Conservation efforts should be focused on protecting and sustaining ecological functions via protection with conservation easements or dedications to the city of Bellingham for public benefit.

o. Restoration should occur as remediation of contaminated sediments or sites occurs within shorelines and should result in a net gain in shoreline ecological function.

C. Economic Development. The economic development element provides for the location and design of industries, transportation facilities, port facilities, tourist facilities, commerce and other developments that depend on the shorelines of the state for their location or use.

1. Goal.

a. Preserve the federal shipping channels and their adjacent upland areas for water-oriented uses. Priority should be given for water-dependent and water-related uses in these areas because they have appropriate depth for a variety of vessels including commerce, tourism, transient and permanent moorage and transportation linkages.

b. Upland areas that are not within proximity to the aforementioned shipping channels should be reserved for water-related and water-enjoyment uses and shoreline mixed uses where appropriate.

c. Development on freshwater shorelines should allow for uses consistent with the applicable underlying zoning while improving the shoreline ecological function of the adjacent water body.

2. Objectives.

a. Development on shorelines should result in no net loss of ecological function. Redevelopment should be encouraged to improve ecological functions and restore riparian buffers.

b. Development of areas for water-dependent uses should be consistent with applicable state and federal laws.

c. Economic development on city shorelines should focus on a multi-use concept with emphasis on “infill” areas identified in the 2004 Comprehensive Plan EIS. Providing public access to the shorelines should be an integral element of mixed-use development. Restoring, enhancing and protecting shoreline ecological functions should also be implemented such that a no net loss of shoreline ecological function is achieved.

d. Shoreline mixed uses are encouraged along the marine waterfront especially where either redevelopment planning occurs or where navigability is not presently available. Mixed uses should include all uses that are not water-oriented such as services, retail, offices and residential uses, where appropriate, along with water-oriented uses. Examples of potential areas for shoreline mixed uses are the south side of the Whatcom Waterway between the historic GP log pond and Roeder Avenue, Cornwall Avenue Landfill, the area between Padden Lagoon and Taylor Dock, Bellwether Peninsula and Marine Center, Tilbury Cement Plant and the Mount Baker Plywood Peninsula.

e. Where economic development occurs along Whatcom, Squalicum and Chuckanut Creeks, their estuaries and/or their tributary confluence zones, riparian and ecological function should be restored, enhanced and/or protected. Developments should be designed to improve public access and should be oriented towards the shoreline in a manner that does not conflict with riparian restoration.

f. Riparian corridors of the city should be protected such that there is a net gain in shoreline ecological function. Additional protection standards may be employed in concert with other opportunities including but not limited to: acquiring ownership, employing effective design standards, reducing impervious lot coverage, and using low impact development techniques.

g. Overall, economic development of our shorelines should continue to be a viable opportunity and provide for restoration of ecological function and public access where appropriate.

D. Public Access. The public access element provides for public access to publicly or privately owned shoreline areas where the public is granted a right of use or access to the water either physically or visually.

1. Goal.

a. Public access should be provided wherever feasible and where it will not impact ecological functions and habitat connectivity. As the Bellingham population increases and areas along city shorelines redevelop, preservation of existing access and development of new access opportunities to the shorelines for our citizens must be balanced with protection and preservation of shoreline ecological function.

2. Objectives.

a. Public access should be provided to all marine shorelines unless it impacts the existing ecological function of shorelines and provided it does not impact existing water-dependent uses and/or compromise the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.

b. Public access opportunities should be provided to our creeks provided there is no net loss of shoreline ecological function including impacts to existing habitat corridors within those riparian areas. Where a conflict exists between public access and protection, protection should take precedence.

c. Public access, whenever feasible, should be designed and developed per adopted and approved public access plans such as the City of Bellingham Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2005) and the Port of Bellingham Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements and the Waterfront District Master Plan, upon its adoption.

d. Public access opportunities should be provided in the form of view overlooks, street ends that abut marine or freshwater, orientation of development to the shoreline, and/or property acquisition.

e. The development of public access facilities should preserve the existing upland character and preserve and restore where feasible the ecological function of the city’s shorelines.

f. Public access should continue to be developed to the Whatcom, Squalicum, Padden and Chuckanut Creek corridors especially where connections can be made to other trail and transportation linkages and public open spaces.

g. Restoration of the estuarine systems along our shorelines should include public access where habitat conditions, topography and safety considerations allow.

h. Areas identified for establishment or enhancement of shoreline public access may include but should not be limited to:

i. Central Avenue Waterfront and historic Georgia Pacific campus;

ii. Colony Wharf;

iii. Pocket beach at the head of the I & J Waterway;

iv. Pocket beach at the foot of Cornwall Avenue and around the perimeter of the Cornwall Avenue Landfill;

v. Over-water walkway from the south end of the Cornwall Avenue Landfill to the north end of Boulevard Park;

vi. At-water level trail connecting Marine Park to the Edgemoor and Chuckanut shoreline areas and eventually to the Coast Millennium Trail near Woodstock Farm;

vii. Pocket beaches at the foot of C and G Streets;

viii. Perimeter of the Mount Baker Plywood Peninsula;

ix. Little Squalicum Beach;

x. Whatcom, Squalicum, Padden and Chuckanut Creek estuaries;

xi. Shoreline between Taylor Avenue Dock and Alaska Ferry Terminal;

xii. Perimeter of Georgia Pacific ASB.

i. Marine shorelines at Boulevard, Marine and Zuanich Point Parks, Little Squalicum Beach and at the head of Chuckanut Bay should be preserved for long-term public access and ecological restoration. Shoreline mixed uses in the areas such as the south side of the Whatcom Waterway between the historic GP log pond and Roeder Avenue, Cornwall Avenue Landfill, the area between Padden Lagoon and Taylor Dock, Bellwether Peninsula and Marine Center, Tilbury Cement Plant and the Mount Baker Plywood Peninsula should be encouraged to take advantage of their shoreline location and proximity to high-density residential areas, trail linkages and urban core areas (for example, central business district and Fairhaven).

j. Public access at Lake Padden, Bloedel Donovan, Whatcom Falls, Cornwall and Arroyo Parks should be preserved, as these are excellent opportunities for a substantial number of citizens to access the shorelines.

k. Due to their unique and/or fragile geological or biological characteristics and importance to local citizens, designated fish and wildlife habitat and conservation areas should be protected from the adverse effects of public access.

l. Public access opportunities along the marine waterfront should be coordinated with Burlington Northern Railroad to provide safe access for citizens.

E. Recreation. The recreation element provides for the preservation and expansion of recreational areas and opportunities, including but not limited to parks, tidelands, beaches, bicycle and pedestrian paths, viewpoints and other recreational amenities.

1. Goals.

a. The amount of shorelines dedicated to public recreation should be increased and their potential optimized.

b. Development of recreation uses should not result in a net loss of shoreline ecological function.

2. Objectives.

a. Water-oriented recreational uses should be promoted along the shorelines so long as the ecological function of the shoreline is not decreased by such activities. Recreation that is not water-oriented should only be located in areas where potential water-dependent uses are not anticipated.

b. Development of recreational facilities along city shorelines should implement low impact development techniques whenever feasible.

c. The objectives of the City of Bellingham Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2005) should be implemented where applicable through this plan’s policies and regulations, and especially Chapter 4 (Opportunities).

d. Land should be acquired and bicycle/pedestrian trails should be constructed along shoreline routes as indicated in the City of Bellingham Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2005).

e. The city should pursue an ongoing program of shoreline property acquisition for public access at the time of development via purchase, dedication and granting of public access easements. The city should also pursue local improvement district provisions for future public access features.

f. Existing and new upland activities should be developed and/or monitored to preserve water quality for continued water-enjoyment recreational uses (e.g., swimming, boating, fishing and bird-watching).

F. Circulation. The circulation element consists of the general location and extent of existing and proposed transportation routes including arterials and access streets, terminals, and other public utilities and facilities, all correlated with the shoreline use element.

1. Goal.

a. Develop a balanced and efficient water and land transportation system that minimizes adverse environmental impacts on shorelines while contributing to the functional and visual enhancement of the system. Development of new circulation plans should emphasize alternative modes of transportation (e.g., bicycles, pedestrians) within close proximity to shorelines as opposed to new systems for automobiles.

2. Objectives.

a. New roadways for vehicle circulation should be located outside of or minimized within the shoreline jurisdiction. Where no feasible alternative exists for new roadways, mitigation should be provided and should be designed for a variety of transportation modes or multi-modal.

b. Where new roadways do occur in shoreline jurisdiction, the result should be no net loss of shoreline ecological function.

c. Circulation from downtown to and along the Central Waterfront including the Georgia Pacific property should continue to be developed through the Whatcom Creek/Maritime Heritage Center/Old Town Corridor for alternative modes of transportation (pedestrians, bicyclists, ADA).

d. A continuous circulation system along the marine shoreline from the Little Squalicum Beach to the Post Point Lagoon should be created and preserved for alternative transportation modes. Pedestrian circulation to Whatcom, Squalicum, Chuckanut and Padden Creeks and their associated estuaries should be improved where ecological functions of the shoreline will not be adversely affected. Where there is a conflict between circulation systems and ecological functions and/or habitat, then the ecological functions and habitat shall take precedence. Recreational circulation should continue along Lake Padden and Lake Whatcom where such circulation will not adversely impact the ecological function of the shoreline.

e. Existing shoreline circulation should be redesigned to accommodate varied modes of transportation and, where feasible, be used as a means of increasing public enjoyment of the shorelines. Examples include but are not limited to water taxis, transit, “trolley” or railway circulation between downtown and Fairhaven, new bike lanes or public walkways over water between the central waterfront and Fairhaven.

f. Existing water transportation systems for industrial, commercial and recreational uses should be maintained. Where feasible and consistent with the Waterfront Futures Group Framework Plan, access points at the aquatic/upland interface should be installed where water-borne circulation can provide alternate means of mobility throughout the city and the region, as well as enhance the economic and recreational benefits to the public; provided, that there is no net loss of shoreline ecological function.

G. History, Cultural and Education. This element provides for protection and restoration of buildings, sites, and areas having historical, cultural, scientific, or educational values.

1. Goal.

a. Protect the public’s interest in the conservation, preservation, and protection of the state’s archaeological resources, and the knowledge to be derived and gained from the scientific study of these resources.

2. Objectives.

a. Shoreline areas having historical and/or cultural significance, especially those shorelines that historically supported the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, should be identified, preserved, protected, and restored.

b. Cooperation among public and private groups in the research and study of historical or cultural sites within the city should be encouraged.

c. Historical or cultural sites should be considered in park and open space and public access planning, subject to consultation with the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe.

d. Funds for the acquisition and/or restoration of sites having historical/cultural significance should be sought.

e. Efforts to protect and promote the historical, cultural, scientific and educational resources within the city of Bellingham should be prioritized. These include but are not limited to:

i. Lummi and Nooksack Tribal resources (cultural, historical);

ii. Maritime Heritage Center (cultural, historical, educational);

iii. Little Squalicum Beach (historical);

iv. Chuckanut, Padden, Whatcom and Squalicum Creek estuaries (scientific, educational); and

v. Lake Whatcom watershed (all).

f. Development and redevelopment along the marine shorelines should be consistent with Chapters 27.44 and 27.53 RCW and Chapter 25-48 WAC.

H. Flood Damage Minimization. Flood damage minimization is the ability to regulate future development and required infrastructure and plan for restoration of floodplain functions.

1. Goal.

a. Establish and implement appropriate floodplain management strategies to minimize private and public property damage, and to improve the ecological functions and prevent habitat loss in wetlands, streams, estuaries and the marine near-shore.

2. Objectives.

a. The applicable elements of Chapter 17.76 BMC (Construction in Floodplains) and the 1995 Watershed Master Plan, as amended, and the Squalicum Creek Floodplain Management Plan (October 1995) should be implemented concurrent with development to manage frequently flooded areas along Bellingham’s shorelines.

b. New scientific studies/information on tsunamis and sea level rise should be used to guide shoreline development as it becomes available and accepted as scientifically valid.1

c. Development within channel migration zones (CMZs) should be prohibited.

d. Actions within shorelines should be conducted in a way that maintains and restores the CMZ where floodplains and/or CMZs are identified.

I. Water Quality. All development actions taken citywide affect water quality. This program should implement policies and regulations that improve water quality of our shorelines.

1. Goal.

a. All development along the shorelines of the city should include measures to protect and/or improve water quality.

2. Objectives.

a. Improvements to water quality within the city of Bellingham should be achieved via the restoration plan in Appendix B. The restoration plan specifies priority goals, objectives, management recommendations and restoration projects that are intended to achieve an improvement to water quality within the city. The restoration plan is not intended to take the place of or have priority over existing water quality improvement programs already underway by the city of Bellingham or as required by the state.

b. Current (2005) stormwater standards and low impact development techniques should be used for development on shoreline parcels where site conditions allow. Low impact development techniques within the 2005 Department of Ecology Stormwater Management Manual for Western Washington should be incorporated into site design to minimize impacts on water quality and ecological function where appropriate.

c. Impervious surfaces should be reduced or minimized and native vegetation of a height and species sufficient to provide shade and filtration to adjacent water bodies should be retained or established to help reduce pollutant loading to shorelines, especially Lake Whatcom, and other water bodies that are listed on the Department of Ecology’s 303(d) list. (33 USC 1313d, Chapter 90.48 RCW, Chapters 173-201A and 173-204 WAC.)

d. In-water structures should be minimized or bioengineered where feasible to help improve the near-shore environment for those species that use and depend on it.

e. Existing stormwater systems should be retrofitted to provide improved water quality treatment.

f. Uses and restoration planning within the Lake Whatcom watershed should be guided by the Lake Whatcom Reservoir Management Plan Joint Resolution Nos. 92-73 and 92-68 and the Lake Whatcom Reservoir regulatory chapter, Chapter 16.80 BMC (also known as the Silver Beach ordinance or SBO) to improve the water quality within the Lake Whatcom watershed.

g. As of 2009, the TMDL Response Plan is the most current and up to date scientific information available to protect and improve the water quality of Lake Whatcom. This response plan includes elements of the 2010 – 2014 Work Plan established by the Interjurisdictional Coordinating Team (ICT) as well as the Recommended Management Action for Protection and Restoration of the Lake Whatcom Reservoir prepared by the Lake Whatcom Reservoir Technical Review Task Force in May 2009. This plan should be implemented either through future code revisions or in the development of future watershed protection programs. (10/5/2009 WS)

NOTE: The Lake Whatcom Work Plans are written by the Lake Whatcom Interjurisdictional Coordinating Team (ICT) which is comprised of staff from city of Bellingham, Whatcom County and Water District No. 10. The ICT writes the plans, implements the plan tasks, and reports on task progress to the joint councils and commissioners biannually. The ICT also responds to the respective jurisdictions as new issues and priorities arise. [Ord. 2013-02-005 § 2 (Exh. 1)].


    City staff is monitoring information available from the University of Washington’s climate impact group and others to determine the sea level rise scenarios most likely to occur in Puget Sound. That determination will be included in the adaptation section of the climate change action plan currently under construction by the environmental resources division of public works. Same division will also be participating in the Washington State Climate Change Assessment, assisting in an assessment of the economic impacts of climate change to business, government, agriculture, etc., in Washington State.