Proposed major changes to development regulations on Budd Inlet and
other shorelines reached a milestone Tuesday night.
After about six years of public process, the Olympia City Council
voted unanimously to approve its Shoreline Master Program and transmit
the plan to the state Department of Ecology, which is requiring it.
The council approved a resolution that put its blessing on the draft
plan, which is far from finalized.
It will be sent to the Department of Ecology in the next month, said
Keith Stahley, director of Community Planning and Development. Ecology
will accept public comments on the plan and could hold its own public
hearing. Once the state approves the plan, it will kick it back to the
City Council to approve a final ordinance.
That process could take six months to a year, Stahley said.
“You will see this again,” Stahley said.
The plan regulates development on major city shorelines, most notably
Budd Inlet. Its goal is to ensure development yields no net ecological
Here are some of the highlights:
• On the Budd Inlet side of the isthmus and Percival Landing, the
council agreed to get rid of conditions that would allow developers to
build right on the water. Instead, the council decreed that no
buildings would be allowed within 30 feet of the water, known as a
The previous draft put setbacks at 50 feet, but allowed developers to
build right on the shore if they met certain conditions such as
accommodating a walking path, allowing physical access to the
shoreline, shoreline restoration and bulkhead removal.
• On the south part of the west shore of East Bay, the council changed
the building setback to 100 feet from the ordinary high water mark, a
change from its earlier proposal of zero feet.
• “Water related” uses, which could include boat storage, would be
allowed only if a developer gets conditional approval from the city in
the Marine Recreation zone, which is the Port Peninsula side facing
East Bay, including Swantown Marina. Non-water-oriented industrial
uses wouldn’t be allowed.
Some council members acknowledged the draft isn’t perfect and has
elements they don’t like.
Councilman Nathaniel Jones criticized some of the setbacks and
vegetation buffers as being inadequate and said the document doesn’t
do enough to address sea level rise. He said the plan falls short of
requirements in the state Shoreline Management Act that a Shoreline
Master Plan address flood prevention.
“The current 30-foot setback in the core of our central business
district does not acknowledge the significance of the setting,” he
Councilwoman Jeannine Roe said she would have preferred setbacks of 50
feet or more on Budd Inlet, and still had concerns about flooding and
sea level rise.
Councilwoman Karen Rogers said that any one person is not going to
fully get his or her way in the document, but she hopes it’s a
workable draft. “This isn’t a perfect document,” she said.
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum said the council has “grown immensely” through
the shoreline planning process.
“It wasn’t any one individual,” he said. “It was the entire council
that made this happen.”
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869
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