Chapter 22.04


22.04.010    Adoption of policy.

22.04.020    Designation.

22.04.030    General policies.

22.04.010 Adoption of policy.

A. The following management and administrative policies are hereby adopted for all shorelines of statewide significance in Bellingham, as defined in RCW 90.58.030(2)(e) and identified in this section and as shown in Chapter 22.11 BMC.

B. This master program gives preference in the following order to uses that:

1. Recognize and protect the statewide interest over local interest;

2. Preserve the natural character of the shoreline;

3. Result in long-term over short-term benefit;

4. Protect the resources and ecology of the shoreline;

5. Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shoreline;

6. Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shoreline; and

7. Provide for any other element as defined in RCW 90.58.100 deemed appropriate or necessary.

C. Conversely, uses that are not generally consistent with these policies should not be permitted on such shorelines. [Ord. 2013-02-005 § 2 (Exh. 1)].

22.04.020 Designation.

The waters of Bellingham Bay below the elevation of extreme low tide (ELT) including the waters of those pocket estuaries identified on the Marine Shoreline Maps in Chapter 22.11 BMC and the waters of Lake Whatcom below OHWM and those shorelands associated with Lake Whatcom are designated as shorelines of statewide significance (SSWS) per RCW 90.58.030(2)(e). The Shoreline Management Act states “the long-term interests of all the people shall be paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance.” [Ord. 2013-02-005 § 2 (Exh. 1)].

22.04.030 General policies.

A. Statewide Interest. The statewide interest should be recognized and protected over the local interest in shorelines of statewide significance. To recognize and protect statewide interest over local interest, the city shall consult with applicable state agencies, affected Indian tribes, and statewide interest groups and consider their recommendations in preparing shoreline master program provisions. The city shall also recognize and take into account state agencies’ policies, programs, and recommendations in developing use regulations. For example, if an anadromous fish species is affected, the Washington State Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Ecology and the Governor’s salmon recovery office, as well as affected Indian tribes, should, at a minimum, be consulted.

1. For Bellingham Bay the resources that are of statewide interest include but are not limited to:

a. Anadromous fisheries, forage fish spawning areas, eelgrass and kelp beds, marine mammal, avian, and other marine biota habitat, and the city’s four estuarine systems including pocket estuaries;

b. Public access to the shoreline via a public park and open space system;

c. Recreation opportunities via boating, marinas, visitor moorage, and proximity to marine attractions (San Juan Islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Georgia Strait); and

d. Deep draft moorage available for the Bellingham Shipping Terminal, the Alaska State Highway Ferry System and the United States Coast Guard.

2. For Lake Whatcom the resources that are of statewide interest include but may not be limited to:

a. Cutthroat and Kokanee fisheries, and wildlife;

b. Public access via a public park and open space system;

c. Recreational boating, swimming and fishing; and

d. Regional water supply.

B. Preserving Resources for Future Generations. The natural character of shorelines of statewide significance should be preserved. The city shall prepare master program provisions on the basis of preserving the shorelines for future generations. For example, actions that would convert resources into irreversible uses or detrimentally alter natural conditions characteristic of shorelines of statewide significance should be severely limited. Where natural resources of statewide importance are being diminished over time, master programs shall include provisions to contribute to the restoration of those resources.

1. Preserving resources for future generations within Bellingham Bay includes:

a. Restoring shorelines and estuaries so that natural processes may be reintroduced;

b. Reintroducing natural processes to improve habitat structure which results in sustainable habitat functions; and

c. Remediation of contaminated sediments.

2. Preserving resources for future generations within Lake Whatcom includes:

a. Protecting and improving the water quality of the regional drinking water reservoir;

b. Restoring the shoreline itself to a more natural condition; and

c. Re-establishing native vegetation at the shoreline edge.

C. Priority Uses. Uses of shorelines of statewide significance should result in long-term benefits to the people of the state. Shoreline environment designation policies, boundaries, and use provisions should give preference to those uses described in RCW 90.58.020(1) through (7). More specifically:

1. Identify the extent and importance of ecological resources of statewide importance and potential impacts to those resources, both inside and outside the city’s geographic jurisdiction.

In 2004, the city conducted a shoreline characterization that has identified ecological resources within Bellingham Bay and Lake Whatcom.

2. Preserve sufficient shorelands and submerged lands to accommodate current and projected demand for economic resources of statewide importance, such as commercial shellfish beds and navigable harbors. Base projections on statewide or regional analyses, requirements for essential public facilities, and comment from related industry associations, affected Indian tribes, and state agencies.

This analysis has been conducted and the result is the shoreline designations and allowed uses specified in Chapter 22.03 BMC.

3. Base public access and recreation requirements on demand projections that take into account the activities of state agencies and the interests of the citizens of the state to visit public shorelines with special scenic qualities or cultural or recreational opportunities.

City of Bellingham Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan (2005) and Port of Bellingham Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements include these demand projections.

D. Resources of Statewide Importance. Establish development standards that:

1. Ensure the long-term protection of ecological resources of statewide importance, such as anadromous fish habitats, forage fish spawning and rearing areas, shellfish beds, and unique environments. Standards shall consider incremental and cumulative impacts of permitted development and include provisions to insure no net loss of shoreline ecosystems and ecosystem-wide processes;

2. Provide for the shoreline needs of water-oriented uses and other shoreline economic resources of statewide importance; and

3. Provide for the right of the public to use, access, and enjoy public shoreline resources of statewide importance.

E. Comprehensive Plan Consistency. Assure that other local comprehensive plan provisions are consistent with and support as a high priority the policies for shorelines of statewide significance. Specifically, shoreline master programs should include policies that incorporate the priorities and optimum implementation directives of Chapter 90.58 RCW into comprehensive plan provisions and implementing development regulations. [Ord. 2013-02-005 § 2 (Exh. 1)].