Shoreline Master Program Update


What is the Shoreline Master Program?

The Shoreline Master Program is a comprehensive shoreline land-use plan that includes policies and regulations for the use and development of the city’s Columbia River shoreline. The SMP protects shoreline processes, promotes public access, and accommodates all appropriate shoreline uses, as well as balances public and private interests.


The Shoreline Management Act creates a regulatory framework that attempts to balance the authority to regulate development on the shoreline between state and local government. Within this framework, the State Department of Ecology has the responsibility for issuing guidelines for the Shoreline Master Program, assisting local governments in developing Shoreline Master Programs, and determining if the Programs meet the policy objectives of the state criteria. The City of Bingen is responsible for the preparation of a Shoreline Master Program that establishes the polices, goals and regulations related to the future development and use of the shorelines that is tailored to the specific needs of the community and complies with the requirements as established by the State.


The City's adopted Klickitat County Shoreline Management Plan Update 1990 by resolution in 1994. The County's Master Program has been updated since 1990 but the City of Bingen did not adopt those updates.


The City of Bingen has started the process for updating it plan and is working with The Watershed Company and the State Department of Ecology to develop and updated Shoreline Master Program that balances the environmental protections mandated by the state and private property rights.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Shoreline Master Plan Update


Q: What is the Shoreline Management Act?

A: The state's Shoreline Management Act (SMA) is the law that requires cities and counties to establish Shoreline Master Programs. The Shoreline Management Act was approved by the Legislature in 1971 and overwhelmingly approved by public initiative in 1972. Under the Shoreline Management Act, each county and city is required to prepare a Shoreline Master Program in accordance with shoreline guidelines issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The Shoreline Management Act has an overarching goal to "prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines."


Q: What is a Shoreline Master Program?

A: The City of Bingen's Shoreline Master Program (SMP) is a combined planning and regulatory document that contains policies, goals, and specific land-use regulations for shorelines. The program balances development, public access, and shoreline protection.


Q: What are we updating the City of Bingen Shoreline Master Program?

A: The Washington State Legislature has set forth a timetable for local governments to update their Shoreline Master Programs. The Shoreline Master Program needs to be updated to reflect changes in state law (particularly the Shoreline Master Program guidelines), address current shoreline conditions, incorporate new science, and better align with other laws, such as the Growth Management Act. Under the City’s grant agreement with Washington State Department of Ecology, the City must adopt an updated Shoreline Master Program by June 30, 2016.


Q: What are the Shoreline Master Program guidelines?

A: The Shoreline Master Program Guidelines set minimum procedural and substantive standards for local governments to use when updating their Shoreline Master Programs.


Q: What kind of information is the City using to update the Shoreline Master Program?

A: The Shoreline Master Guide Program guidelines require local governments to “make use of and, where applicable, incorporate all available scientific information.” This includes reports, documents, and materials such as inventory data; technical assistance materials; manuals and services from reliable scientific sources; and aerial photography.


Q: Can the City accept technical comments and information from citizens that have not gone through a formal peer-review or publication process?

A: Yes. The City can accept all kinds of comments and information related to the Shoreline Management Program update. Information, experience, and anecdotal evidence provided by interested parties may offer valuable information to supplement scientific information. However, nonscientific information is not considered a substitute for valid and available scientific information. Where data conflicts or is inconsistent, the City is obligated to base its SMP provisions on a reasoned, objective evaluation of the relative merits of the conflicting data.


Q: Why is the City of Bingen adopting a plan separate from Klickitat County?

A: Previously the City adopted the county's Shoreline Master Program via resolution instead of creating its own separate plan. The two entities have agreed that it is in their best interests to adopt separate plans.


Q: What happens if we don't update the SMP?

A: The State Department of Ecology is authorized by RCW 90.58.070 and RCW 90.58.090 and WAC 173-26-070 to adopt a Shoreline Master Program for shorelines of the state within our county. Much of the opportunity for our own determination of how to regulate shoreline areas would be reduced.


Q: What do we want to update the SMP?

A: It is in the City's best interest to update our Shoreline Master Program:


  1. Our current plan was adopted in 1994 and has not substantially changed; it is no longer based on current science, current law, or current conditions.

  2. The update will streamline permitting and provide clear guidance to applicants.

  3. Updating our plan is required by state law. The City of Bingen may be subject to penalty or pre-emption by Ecology, or both, if we fail to update our plan as required.


Q: Who is paying for the Shoreline Master Program update?

A: The Washington State Department of Ecology has provided the City of Bingen with a grant of $50,000 to update its Shoreline Master Program.


Q: Where does the City’s Shoreline Management Program apply?

A: In Bingen, The Shoreline Master Program generally applies to the Columbia River and lands within 200 feet of the shoreline. Most of the lands affected by the Shoreline Master Program update are owned by the SDS Lumber Company.


Q: Is the public involved in developing the Shoreline Master Program?

A: Yes as required by the Shoreline Management Act, all interested parties are involved in the update. The Public Participation Plan guides the public participation process for the update by identifying objectives, key parties to engage, outreach strategies, and a timeline for public participation. The Public Participation Plan can be reviewed on the City’s Shoreline Master Program webpage.


Q: What are some of the key points in the Shoreline Master Program update timeline?

A: The following are some approximate dates for key points in the SMP update timeline:

October 29, 2014 – Community visioning public open house

Spring 2015 – Shoreline Master Program development by City Council

Summer 2015 – Public open house to review the draft Shoreline Master Program

Winter 2015/Summer 2016 – Local adoption process


Q: Who will approve the City’s Shoreline Master Program?

A: The City Council must approve the Shoreline Master Program, after a public review and comment period. The Shoreline Master Program will then be sent to the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), who will review it for consistency with state law. After reviewing the Shoreline Master Program, Ecology can approve it as submitted, approve it with required and recommended changes, or reject it. The Department of Ecology must approve the Shoreline Master Program before it takes effect.


Q: Who are the consultants the City has hired to assist in developing the Shoreline Master Program update?

A: The consulting firm for the Shoreline Master Program update is The Watershed Company. The Watershed Company has assisted with Shoreline Master Program updates for over 50 cities and counties throughout Washington.


More questions?

Please see the Washington Department of Ecology's Shoreline Master Program Citizen Guide website and their FAQ page or contact us.


Shoreline Master Program Update Documents

The City of Bingen will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 regarding the final draft of the City’s Shoreline Master Program. Pursuant to RCW 90.58 and WAC 73-26, the City has developed a draft Shoreline Master Program. The Shoreline Master Program establishes goals, policies and regulations for managing public and private development along shorelines in a manner consistent with the Shoreline Management Pact by protecting shoreline natural resources, giving locational preference to water-oriented and residential uses, and allowing public access to publicly owned shorelines. The public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Bingen City Hall, 112 N. Ash. Copies of the final draft Shoreline Master Program and additional materials are available from City Hall at 112 N. Ash or by calling 509-493-2122 or online at Public comment is invited.

The city has submitted the Draft Shoreline Master Program, Draft Shoreline Restoration Plan, and Draft Cumulative Impacts Analysis to the Department of Ecology. We are seeking public comment on these documents at this time.