Wider setbacks needed in city’s shoreline plan

OlympiaFebruary 6, 2013 

Your recent editorial regarding the Olympia Shoreline Master Program says that the City Council should adopt the current draft because “it fulfills the intent of the Shoreline Management Act, which is to achieve no net ecological loss to the city’s existing waterfront areas.”

Wow. I suggest that your editorial board get some better information. “No net loss of ecological functions” is, indeed, one objective of the act. But by no means the only one. That act also targets shoreline access, like the waterfront trails that are called for in both the city parks plan and the regional trails plan. The act also speaks to prevention of flood damage. That would include the city’s policy to protect our downtown from the effects of sea level rise due to climate change. The act also encourages improvement of ecological function, as called for in the city comprehensive plan to restore the health of Budd Inlet.

The current draft calls for a setback (no-building area) of 30 feet from the water, which provides only about 20 feet of flat land. There is no way that such a narrow strip of land can accommodate all the uses foreseen in the Shoreline Management Act. A far wider setback is needed.

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