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Regulatory Handbook -> Local Permits -> Shoreline Variance Permit

Shoreline Variance Permit

What is the Purpose of this Permit?
To regulate developments and uses of water bodies and associated upland areas to protect human health and the natural environment. Each local government has development regulations in its Shoreline Master Program. Each program contains numerical development standards (heights, setback distances, number of parking spaces required, etc.). A person may request a variance from those numerical standards for their proposed development. Variances are issued by local governments (approved and denied), then sent to the Department of Ecology (Ecology) for further review and approval or disapproval. For more information about the Shoreline Management Act, go to the links noted below.
Who Issues this Permit?
Local Government - City or County
What Activities Require this Permit?
These are determined by local government and specified in their Shoreline Master Program.
How Much Will this Permit Cost?
Whatever local governments determine to charge. Ecology does not charge for review of Shoreline Variances.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
This is determined by each local government. The minimum required information is listed in WAC 173-27-180.
Is the Decision on my Permit Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
Compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) may be required.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
Local permit process time is determined by local government. Ecology's decision will be issued within 30 calendar days of receiving a complete permit package from local government. See WAC 173-27-130 and 180 for required permit documents.
Where do I Submit my Application?
The local government (town, city, county) where the proposed project will take place.
View the schematic
How Long is my Permit Valid?
That is determined by local government in accordance with RCW 90.58.143.
What is the Appeal Process for the Permit?
Each local government may establish its own appeal process. After any local appeal process and Ecology's review processes are complete, appeals may be made to the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) within 21-days of the "date of filing" as defined in RCW 90.58.140(6). SHB decisions may be appealed to superior, appeals, and supreme courts.
Notes / Comments:
Contact your local government for application.

Variance applications are reviewed against criteria in the local Shoreline Master Program, and state criteria in WAC 173-27-170.
Statewide Contact:
Local Government - City or County
Planning Departments
For assistance contact 1-800-917-0043 (Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance)
* Permit information last updated 6/14/2022
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