Shoreline Master Program (SMP)

Puyallup SMP Updated January, 2016

The City began the update process to the Puyallup SMP in 2005. The currently adopted Puyallup SMP was last updated in 1987 (PDF). Drafting of the Puyallup SMP and supporting studies and documents was completed in 2007. The drafted materials were prepared by an environmental consultant hired by the city using grant funds provided by the Department of Ecology.

At that time, the city's Planning Commission reviewed the draft, supporting studies and public comments, and held a public hearing on the matter. The Planning Commission's recommended draft was forwarded to the Department of Ecology (ECY) thereafter for review and comment. The ECY issued the city a detailed letter in 2007 outlining required changes needed to the draft and supporting materials.

Update Process

City staff processed these comments and incorporated them into an updated draft of the Puyallup SMP for 2012; review by the Puyallup Planning Commission has been ongoing since 2012. A completed draft was authorized by the Planning Commission at the end of 2013, and the Commission held a noticed public hearing on March 26, 2014. The Commission unanimously recommended that City Council adopt the current draft Puyallup SMP, along with a set of amendments to the city's critical areas ordinance (PMC 21.06) related to new recommended buffer widths for wetlands.

The Puyallup City Council held a hearing in November, 2014 on the Planning Commission recommended draft, unanimously adopting the local version of the updated SMP. City staff then worked directly with ECY staff to complete final review of the locally adopted SMP; this involved mostly checking the SMP for compliance with state law and auditing the Puyallup Critical Areas Ordinance for consistency with Best Available Science regarding environmental protection. This final review resulted in total of 5 “required” changes and a total of 48 “recommended” changes.

Changes to SMP

The Puyallup City Council accepted these changes (save for 1 recommended change which was not adopted) in November, 2015. ECY issued a final acceptance letter in December, 2015. The Puyallup SMP is effective as of Tuesday, January 5, 2016.
If you have any questions, you may contact Chris Beale, Senior Planner, AICP, at 253-841-5418, to stay involved in the update process.

What is the SMP

Shoreline master programs (SMPs) regulate new development and use of shorelines along larger rivers, lakes over 20 acres, and marine waterfronts. In the City of Puyallup, the only waterways covered under the Shoreline Master Program are the Puyallup River and Clark's Creek.
Shoreline in Puyallup
The Puyallup SMP defines how the shoreline areas of the City and its urban growth area will be managed. Lands within 200 feet of the Puyallup River and Clark's Creek, and their associated wetlands, are subject to the policies and regulations of the SMP.

The Shoreline Management Act (SMA) of 1971, ratified by Washington voters in 1972, establishes the basic framework for developing local Master Programs under the basic concept that piecemeal development of the state's shoreline areas would cause irreversible harm without master planning efforts at the local level. The SMA maintains 3 core principles:
  1. Shoreline uses - What type of uses will be allowed along local shoreline areas and how will they develop?
  2. Shoreline environmental protection - How will the critical functions of the shoreline environment be protected, preserved, and restored?
  3. Shoreline public access - How will the public be provided the opportunity to see, touch, feel and experience the shoreline areas?

Shoreline Master Program

The SMP contains several main sections: an inventory of shoreline conditions; goals, policies, and regulations pertaining to shoreline activities, and administrative provisions as well as public access and restoration plans, respectively. The SMP includes development standards and use regulations for a wide range of specific uses and shoreline modifications, such as residential and commercial use, dredging, bulkheads, shoreline stabilization, etc. The content of the SMP document are as follows (updated January, 2015):

Critical Area Code Update

Staff at the Department of Ecology recommended specific changes to the city's critical area code as a part of the review of the city's SMP update. The DOE outlined "required changes" that relate to how wetland buffers are calculated. A draft update to the city's critical area ordinance in relation to new guidance regarding wetland buffers is included in the update process. Changes to the City's CAO (PMC 21.06) were adopted by the City Council in November, 2014, and again in November 2015. See the City's online municipal code for full details of the code change (PMC 21.06, Article IX).

Shoreline Characterization & Inventory Report

The first step in the comprehensive SMP update process is development of a shoreline inventory and characterization. The inventory and characterization documents current shoreline conditions and provides a basis for updating the City's SMP goals, policies, and regulations. The characterization identifies existing conditions, evaluates existing functions and values of shoreline resources, and explores opportunities for conservation and restoration of ecological functions. After technical review by city staff, tribes, Ecology, and other state agencies, the City completed the shoreline inventory and characterization report (PDF) in July 2007.

Shoreline Restoration Plan

The SMP guidelines require that local governments develop SMP policies that promote "restoration" of damaged shoreline ecological functions and develop a "real and meaningful" strategy to implement restoration objectives. Planning for shoreline restoration includes identifying opportunities (both programmatic and site-specific), establishing goals and policies, working cooperatively with other regional entities, and supporting restoration through other regulatory and non-regulatory programs. The City completed and updated a draft shoreline restoration plan (PDF) in January, 2012.

Department of Ecology Comments

Additional Appendices


Please direct questions to Chris Beale, Senior Planner, AICP at 253-841-5418.