Shoreline Master Program Periodic Update


The Washington Shoreline Management Act (SMA) (RCW 90.58), established in 1972, created a state-local partnership for managing, accessing, and protecting Washington’s shorelines. The SMA requires local governments to prepare locally relevant policies and regulations for managing shorelines though Shoreline Master Programs, or SMPs. Under the Shoreline Management Act, cities and counties are required to periodically review their land-use policies and regulations governing shoreline uses on an eight-year schedule established by the Legislature (RCW 90.58.080). Amendments to Shoreline Master Programs are adopted and approved by the local government, as well as the Department of Ecology.

Per state mandate, the City of Spokane completed a periodic review of its SMP. Spokane's shoreline jurisdiction includes the Spokane River and Latah Creek; their associated wetlands and floodplains; and land within the 200-foot buffer zone of these waterbodies. The City completed its latest Periodic Review in June 2021, and the Department of Ecology approved all of the changes in May 2022.

Goals of the Periodic Review

Shoreline Master Programs guide use of Washington shorelines to protect natural resources for future generations, provide for public access to public water and shores, and plan for water-dependent uses.

The periodic update did not re-evaluate the ecological baseline that was established as part of the last Shoreline Master Program update in 2008 and 2011; nor did it change shoreline jurisdiction or environment designations, or result in changes to Chapter 14: Shorelines of the Comprehensive Plan.

Spokane’s amendments to the SMP ensured:

  • Compliance with Department of Ecology guidelines and applicable laws;
  • Consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and City development regulations;
  • Responding to changed circumstances, new information, or improved data; and
  • Allowing appropriate use and enjoyment of shorelines while protecting shoreline ecosystems.

SMP Documents

Legislative Process

Boards and Committees

  • Urban Experience Committee, Briefing 1 – March 9, 2020
  • Neighborhood Community Assembly, Briefing 2 – November 5, 2020
  • Urban Experience Committee, Briefing 3 – February 8, 2021
  • Urban Experience Committee, Briefing 4 – April 12, 2021

Plan Commission

Public Hearings

  • Plan Commission Public Hearing (Agenda and Video) – February 24, 2021
  • City Council Public Hearings (Agenda 1 and 2, and Video 1 and 2) – April 12 and April 19, 2021

History of Spokane's Shoreline Management

  • 1966: Initiated our own intensive planning study of the Spokane River and Latah Creek waterfronts. The study culminated in the Riverfront Development Program, an ambitious commitment to recapture, over a 20 to 30-year period, the full value of an asset that had badly depreciated.
  • 1975: The Riverfront Development Program provided much of the substance for our first Shoreline Master Program, adopted in 1976 and amended in 1982.
  • 1988: Spokane City Council requested that the City Plan Commission review the Riverfront Development Program and the Shoreline Master Program and prepare updates if necessary.
  • 1994: Through a coordinated effort between the Plan Commission, a citizen committee, and City staff, our next draft Shoreline Master Program was completed in 1994, but was never adopted by the City Council.
  • 2005-2008: City Planning Services Department received a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to update the 1976 Shoreline Master Program. This was adopted in 2008.
  • 2011: Completed our Shoreline Master Program periodic review and developed Chapter 14 Shorelines of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • 2020: Begins the process to update the Shoreline Master Program under guidance by the Washington Department of Ecology.
Hangman Creek

Related Resources

City Council Adoption

On April 19, 2021 the City Council adopted Ordinance C36034 effectively updating shoreline regulations as part of the Periodic Review.

Staff will be completing the Periodic Review with the Department of Ecology, with final submittal to Ecology by June 30, 2021.

Contact Information

Amanda Beck, AICP
Assistant Planner

Tirrell Black, AICP
Principal Planner