Shoreline Master Program

Duck PondShoreline Master Programs (SMPs) are local land use policies and regulations that guide the use of Washington shorelines. SMPs apply to both public and private uses. They protect natural resources for future generations, provide for public access to public waters and shores, and plan for water-dependent uses.

The Shoreline Management Act (SMA) was passed by the Washington Legislature in 1971 and adopted by voters in 1972 "to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines." The Act requires all counties and most towns and cities with shorelines to develop and implement Shoreline Master Programs.

There are three basic SMA policy areas: shoreline use, environmental protection, and public access. 

  • Shoreline Use – to control pollution and prevent damage to the natural environment. 
  • Environmental Protection - to protect shoreline natural resources including the land, vegetation, wildlife, and aquatic habitats against adverse environmental effects. All allowed uses are required to offset these impacts as much as possible and preserve the natural character and aesthetics of the shoreline. 
  • Public Access - SMPs include a public access element, including provisions for public access to publicly owned areas. The SMA also implements the common law Public Trust Doctrine. This doctrine conveys that the waters of the state are a public resource for the purposes of navigation, conducting commerce, fishing, recreation, and similar uses. The Public Trust Doctrine is not invalidated by private ownership of the underlying land.
  1. Purpose
  2. Shorelines
  3. Categories

The purpose of SMP is to:

  • Ensure no net loss of shoreline ecological functions
  • Protect the public's right to access and use the surface waters of the state
  • Design and carry out allowed uses in a manner that minimizes, as far as practical, damage to the ecology and environment of shoreline areas and the public's right to access and use the shorelines where public lands and rights-of-way exist
  • Provide for the recovery of fish and wildlife that use the shorelines an d that have been federally, or state listed endangered or threatened and that is practical to recover within Redmond
  • Prepare a concerted and coordinated plan for the shorelines, considering local, state and federal interests to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines 
  • Help fulfill the City's responsibilities under the Public Trust Doctrine
  • Protect the waters of the state and the fish and wildlife that depend on those waters
  • Protect the aesthetic qualities of the natural shorelines of the state to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally
  • Provide for the restoration of shorelines, which are among the state's most valuable and fragile and natural resources
  • Encourage water-related, water-dependent, and residential uses of the shorelines that are in the best interest of the public
  • Carry out the Shoreline Management Act, RCW Chapter 90.58, and implementing regulations adopted by the state
  • To protect the rights of owners of properties within the shoreline jurisdiction


The Shoreline Management Act requires that a comprehensively updated Shoreline Master Program be periodically reviewed every eight years. The schedule to complete these reviews is established for every community in RCW 90.58.080(4). Redmond completed its periodic review update in May 2019. This ensures the SMP stays current with changes in laws and rules, remains consistent with other Redmond plans and regulations, and is responsive to changed circumstances, new information, and improved data.


If you’re proposing to develop in these areas, be sure to check first with the City to determine if a Shoreline Exemption or Shoreline Substantial Development Permit will be required. Building docks or performing routine maintenance and repair on docks require permits. City staff is available to help navigate the permit process and assist with any questions you might have.