Shoreline Master Program

City of Snohomish Shoreline Master Program

The Shoreline Master Program is a comprehensive document that includes policies, development regulations, and technical studies related to development within the shoreline jurisdiction. The shoreline jurisdiction is defined as all “shorelines of the state” and the shorelands extending 200 feet in all directions from those shorelines. The City of Snohomish has three shorelines of the state:


  • Blackmans Lake
  • Pilchuck River
  • Snohomish River (which is also a Shoreline of Statewide Significance)

The state-mandated update received final approval (click here to view final approval letter) from the Washington State Department of Ecology on May 21, 2018. The updated SMP went into effect June 4, 2018. 

Riverfront Trail

Riverfront Trail at the Snohomish River

Contact Us

  1. Brooke Eidem, AICP

    Planning Director

    Email Brooke

    Ph: 360-282-3167

    Leah Chulsky


    Email Leah

    Ph: 425-328-0078

    Thomas Kreinbring

    Assistant Planner

    Email Tom

    Ph: 360-282-3159

    116 Union Ave.
    P.O. Box 1589

    Snohomish, WA 98290



    Tuesday - Thursday

    8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

    By appointment: 

    Monday & Friday

    (Excluding Holidays)

Preferred Shoreline Uses

While the SMP is intended to protect the shoreline environment, it is also designed to promote “water-oriented uses” within the shoreline jurisdiction and to facilitate public access to the shorelines. Water-oriented uses are defined as uses that are water-dependent, water-related, or water-enjoyment. Preferred uses are single-family residences, ports, recreational uses, water dependent industrial and commercial uses, and development that provide public access opportunities.

  • Water-dependent use means a use or portion of a use which cannot exist in a location that is not adjacent to the water and which is dependent on the water by reason of the intrinsic nature of its operations.
  • Water-enjoyment use means a recreational or other use that facilitates public access to the shoreline as a primary characteristic of the use; or a use that provides for recreational use or aesthetic enjoyment of the shoreline for a substantial number of people as a general characteristic of the use and which through location, design, and operation ensures the public’s ability to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of the shoreline. In order to qualify as a water-enjoyment use, the use must be open to the general public and the shoreline-oriented space within the project must be devoted to the specific aspects of the use that fosters shoreline enjoyment.
  • Water-related use means a use or portion of a use that is not intrinsically dependent on a waterfront location but whose economic viability is dependent on a waterfront location because:
    1. The use has a functional requirement for a waterfront location such as the arrival or shipment of materials by water or the need for large quantities of water; or 
    2. The use provides a necessary service supportive of the water-dependent uses, and the proximity of the use to its customers makes its services less expensive and/or more convenient.

Shoreline Environments

The Snohomish SMP establishes five "shoreline environments". Each environment has policies and regulations specific to them. The five environments are:

  • Aquatic Environment (the water bodies themselves)
  • Rural Utility Environment (this only includes the area around the City's wastewater treatment plant)
  • Shoreline Residential Environment
  • Historic Riverfront Environment (portion of the Historic Business District within 200 feet of the Snohomish River)
  • Urban Conservancy Environment (everything that is not in any of the other environments)
Hill Park - Blackmans Lake
Hill Park at Blackmans Lake

Policy and Regulation Documents

The SMP is a planning document that defines goals and policies for shoreline use and development. It includes a set of regulations that will implement those goals and policies by governing the shoreline use and development in a manner consistent with state law. It also includes a framework for protecting and restoring the City's shorelines over time. The documents that comprise the SMP include:

  • Overview
  • Users Guide
  • Shoreline Element of the Comprehensive Plan (policies)
  • Chapter 14.250 of Snohomish Municipal Code - Shoreline Management (regulations)

Technical Studies

The SMP policy and regulation documents are support by three technical studies required by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The studies, done by the City’s environmental consultant ESA are a:

  • Shoreline Inventory & Characterization
  • Shoreline Restoration Plan
  • Cumulative Impacts Analysis and No Net Loss Memorandum

SMP and Appendices

You can download the entire SMP or its individual components by clicking on the links below:

Shoreline Management Act

Washington's Shoreline Management Act (SMA), passed by the State Legislature in 1971, is intended "to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state's shorelines."  While protecting shoreline resources by regulating development, the SMA is also intended to provide for appropriate shoreline use by encouraging land uses that enhance and conserve shoreline functions and values.

The SMA has three broad policies:
  1. Encourage water-dependent and water-oriented uses:  "uses shall be preferred which are consistent with the control of pollution and prevention of damage to the natural environment, or are unique to or dependent upon use of the state's shorelines..."
  2. Promote public access:  "the public's opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible, consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally."
  3. Protect shoreline natural resources, including:  "...the land and its vegetation and wildlife, and the water of the state and their aquatic life..."

The SMA requires local governments to adopt Shoreline Management Programs (SMPs), adopted under guidelines established by the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE), to implement the above policies.