Shoreline Master Program - Frequently Asked Questions
The City of Bainbridge Island’s current Shoreline Master Program (SMP) took effect July 30, 2014. Since then, the Department of Planning and Community Development has received over 70 shoreline permit applications, 30 of which have been issued, in the midst of two appeals to the Growth Management Hearings Board and a Petition for Review to Kitsap County Superior Court. Permitted development activity on the shoreline over this time period includes new residential construction, residential alteration and expansion, new and repaired docks, tree removal, and public and private utilities.
Updated Shoreline Master Plan
The updated SMP presented staff with new rules, new expectations and the need for revised applications and internal protocols. Staff recognizes that the SMP includes complex and potentially confusing code language. What was intended as innovative and flexible in theory has proven somewhat difficult to implement in practice. As a result, the City is preparing to undertake a limited amendment to address many of these issues. Additionally, the City is revising its aquaculture regulations to better reflect local conditions and community input.
Staff-Developed FAQs for Your Better Understanding
City staff developed the following FAQ to help shoreline property owners better understand the SMP in general and as it may specifically relate to their property. The application of most regulations is site-specific; that is, how a regulation is applied depends on the location and existing conditions of a property. Given the site-specific nature of most regulations, the City encourages you to contact the Department of Planning and Community Development if you have specific questions about how the SMP may affect your property and/or any plans you may have for changes.
- Hasn’t the City’s SMP been challenged and overturned in court?
- Aren’t requirements for shoreline buffers and setbacks a “taking” of private property rights?
- We keep hearing that the SMP has drastically lowered our property values and will make it extremely difficult to sell our home. Is this true?
- Can I be fined for not getting City approval for everyday activities?
- Do I need City approval to maintain my yard?
- Can I make changes in my garden without City approval?
- Do I need City approval to prune my trees?
- If I remove a hazard tree (dead, diseased or dying), do I have to leave it in my yard?
- Is the goal of the SMP to phase out all single-family docks over time?
- Is the intent of the SMP to phase out all homes & docks on the shoreline over time?
- Can I replace my bulkhead under the new SMP?
- I keep hearing that the new SMP made virtually every home along the shore “non-conforming.” Is this true?
- How is my existing shoreline home affected by the new buffer standards in the updated SMP?
- Can I rebuild my house in the same location if it burns down?
- If my home is unoccupied for 12 months in a row, do I forfeit the right to live in my house?