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Shoreline Master Program

Latest Updates

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this process – attending meetings, reviewing documents, providing comments, and working towards a vibrant future for our waterfront. We look forward to continuing this good work as we look towards implementing the policies and development regulations of the Master Program.

On October 15, the City’s updated Shoreline Master Program takes effect. On October 1, 2013 the Department of Ecology issued Final Approval of the City of Tacoma Shoreline Master Program, accepting the City's alternative intent statement for the S-6/7 Schuster Parkway Transition Shoreline District as proposed in Resolution 38734. The SMP takes effect 14 days from Ecology’s final action. The Tacoma City Council ratified the agreement with Ecology with the approval of Ordinance 28180. 

Ordinance 28180
Exhibit A: Shoreline Master Program
Exhibit B: Shoreline District Zoning
Exhibit C: TMC 13.05 Land Use Permit Procedures
Exhibit D: TMC 13.06 Zoning
Exhibit E: TMC 13.11 Critical Areas Preservation 
Ecology's Notice of Final Action
Resolution 38734
Exhibit A: Proposed Alternative

Conditional Approval 
On August 19, 2013, the State Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued a conditional approval of the City's Comprehensive Shoreline Master Program (SMP).  The Ecology's letter includes three attachments called, Findings and Conclusions, Required Changes, and Recommended Changes.  

In accordance with the State's guidelines, the City has 30 days to formally accept, reject or propose alternatives to the Ecology’s conditions.  This places the deadline at September 18, 2013.  The City will keep stakeholders informed of and engaged in the process of formulating our response.

Community Meetings

To learn more, please join us at a public meeting on Thursday, September 5, 2013, at 6 PM, in Room 708, Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market Street.

Posted below are the tentative schedules for the City Council's actions, the letter from Ecology, and a link to Ecology's website:
Schedule for Tacoma's Response to Ecology (as of August 27, 2013)
Ecology's Letter of Conditional Approval (August 19, 2013)
Ecology's Decision on Tacoma SMP (webpage)

Shoreline Master Program - Locally Approved

On November 29, 2011 the Tacoma City Council adopted an update of the Tacoma Shoreline Master Program (SMP), including the Shoreline Restoration Plan, Public Access Alternatives Plan, and Thea Foss Waterway Design Guidelines.  The SMP provides goals, policies, and development regulations for all shoreline areas within the City, including Commencement Bay and its waterways, the Tacoma Narrows, and Wapato Lake.

The Locally Approved SMP along with the Council ordinance and resolutions and relevant information were subsequently submitted to Ecology, which issued a finding of a complete submittal and set a 45-day public comment period between April 23 and June 7, 2012, during which time 34 comment letters and emails were received by Ecology.  

The Locally Approved Shoreline Master Program documents are available below:

Amended Ordinance No. 28034 
Exhibit A: Shoreline Master Program Comprehensive Plan Element and TMC 13.10 
Exhibit B: Shoreline Zoning Districts 
Exhibit C: TMC 13.05 Land Use Permit Procedures 
Exhibit D: TMC 13.06 Zoning 
Exhibit E: TMC 13.11 Critical Areas

Resolution No. 38372
Exhibit A: Shoreline Inventory and Characterization Report 

Resolution No. 38373

Exhibit A: Shoreline Restoration Plan

Resolution No. 38374
Exhibit A: Public Access Alternatives Plan 

Resolution No. 38375
Exhibit A: Thea Foss Waterway Design Guidelines 

Resolution No. 38376
Exhibit A: Cumulative Impacts Analysis


In 2003 the Department of Ecology issued new guidelines to assist local governments in meeting the State requirement to conduct a comprehensive review and amendment of the Master Program for Shoreline Development.  The guidelines outline procedural steps and substantive requirements that must be met.  Tacoma's update to its Shoreline Master Program is an extensive overhaul of the program requiring the City to re-evaluate all shoreline policies, designations and regulations and must be based upon scientific and technical information to assure no net loss of shoreline ecological functions while providing for appropriate uses within shoreline areas.

The Tacoma Shoreline Master Program includes goals, policies and development regulations for all shoreline areas including Commencement Bay and its waterways, the Tacoma Narrows, and Wapato Lake.

Existing Shoreline Plans

Shoreline Master Program (1996)
Thea Foss Waterway Design and Development Plan
Ruston Way Plan
Ruston Way Design Booklet
Shoreline Trails Plan
TMC 13.10 Shoreline Code

State Shoreline Management Documents

Introduction to the Shoreline Management Act
Shoreline Management Act
WAC Guidelines
SMP Handbook  

Additional Resources

Puget Sound Partnership
Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project
Washington Biodiversity Project
Washington Coastal Atlas
Commencement Bay Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration

Staff Contact

Stephen Atkinson
(253) 591-5531