Bellevue Shoreline Regulations Respect Property Rights

Homeowners in Bellevue may not be subjected to very restrictive shoreline setbacks and increasingly complicated rules for bulkhead repair, replacement and installation as Bellevue updates its Shoreline Master Program.

Over the past several years, cities have been updating their shoreline regulations to comply with state law. The Washington State Department of Ecology has pressured many cities to increase shoreline setbacks and create more complicated rules for bulkhead repair, replacement and installation.

The City of Bellevue has taken a deliberate and reasoned approach to the shoreline update. Bellevue’s proposed Shoreline Master Program reflects the highly urbanized level of development and the high quality of neighborhood character in the city. The proposal balances the goals of the Shoreline Management Act with a property owner’s right to enjoy the use of the shoreline.

SKCR has encouraged Bellevue to take the time to get it right. We fully support the proposal’s position on:

  • 25’ setback for consistency with existing development and appropriateness for urban shorelines (correcting an existing 50’ setback that rendered many existing residences non-confirming and many shallow lots unbuildable)
  • A greenscape standard that will limit impervious surface close to the shoreline to protect its ecological function, while allowing a range of plant materials that preserve the character of shoreline neighborhoods, offer flexibility to the homeowner and enable shoreline access and enjoyment.
  • Recognition that repair and replacement of existing residential moorage is important for a property owner’s use and enjoyment of the lakes and shoreline.
  • Regulatory simplification relating to new and reconfigured residential moorage.
  • Predictability and flexibility relating to repair and replacement of existing shoreline stabilization (bulkheads) is important for residential property owners. Also important is the ability to construct new stabilization when needed to protect a home. The proposal offers a good balance of flexibility for the homeowner and environmental protection.

The Bellevue Council will continue to discuss the proposal through June, with possible adoption in July.