Kitsap County approves updated Shoreline Management Program

PORT ORCHARD — Shoreline regulations for Kitsap County have been approved by the county Board of Commissioners.

The Shoreline Management Program, or SMP, is a state-mandated document that regulates uses near shorelines. The SMP must meet three goals for shoreline management: no net loss of ecological value or function, protect public access to the shoreline, and prioritize water-dependent uses. The plan’s jurisdiction covers 292 miles of marine, lake, river and stream shoreline in the county.

Shoreline in North Kitsap — outside of Poulsbo, which has its own SMP awaiting approval of the Department of Ecology — is zoned either shoreline residential or rural conservancy. The zone affects how large the buffer is, separating development from the ordinary high water mark.

In the Poulsbo/Keyport area, the zones are mainly shoreline residential (85-foot buffer) with spots of rural conservancy (130-foot buffer). Keyport town is zoned urban conservancy (100-foot buffer).

Suquamish is zoned shoreline residential or rural conservancy.

Kingston is zoned rural conservancy, except where the ferry landing is, which is zoned high intensity (50-foot buffer). The Carpenter Creek estuary is zoned natural (200-foot buffer).

Port Gamble town is zoned urban conservancy, and the SMP no longer includes a reference to the master plan proposed by Port Gamble owner Olympic Property Group.

The shoreline along the Hood Canal is zoned shoreline residential. Hansville south to Kingston along Puget Sound is zoned rural conservancy. The Coon Bay residential neighborhood in Hansville is zoned shoreline residential, and a few locations at the tip of the peninsula, such as Foulweather Bluff, are zoned natural.

The latest draft also specified the SMP will be consistent with all applicable federal, state and local laws affecting Tribal rights.

The county last updated the SMP in 1999. However, in 2003, the state updated its guidelines for local jurisdictions to follow. According to the county, this is the first major overhaul of its shoreline regulations in nearly 40 years.

Once received by the county, Ecology will open a minimum 30-day public comment period while it  reviews the document. Ecology must send all comments back to the county within 15 days of the closed comment period. The county then has 45 days to prepare a response, including any potential changes to the plan. Ecology has another 30 days to make formal, written findings on whether the SMP is consistent with the Shoreline Management Act guidelines. Ecology can then approve the document as originally submitted, approve with the possible changes made from comments, or direct the county go to back and work on the document more.

View the approved SMP at



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