The five member citizens committee Burien Shoreline Working Group has been negotiating with the Department of Ecology for a couple years now as Burien updates the Burien Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The primary disconnect has regarded setbacks for construction. Many developed communities in Burien have homes fairly close to their bulkheads, and the DOE requirements of 50 feet + 15 foot buffer would have made many lots totally unbuildable.

The group’s proposal is for developed areas along Puget Sound to be split up into zones. In well developed areas along the Sound shoreline, any development within 20 feet of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) would be significantly limited. Then development within 20-35 feet would be allowed if offsetting benefits were created within the first 20 feet (vegetation, limiting permeable surfaces, etc.). For less developed areas, the same zone restrictions would be moved back to 30 feet and 30-45 feet, respectively.

Existing structures can still be remodeled or even rebuilt on their existing footprints wherever they may be located, and are grandfathered in as “nonconforming”.

The working group said that initial indicators from DOE were amenable to these compromises. It will be interesting to see where this ends up, since it could set precedents for other Sound waterfront communities and their SMPs.

Seattle Burien Three Tree Point waterfront home with Puget Sound view decks

Example of Burien home (WaterHavens listing) with existing near shore footprint enabling expansive and close-up waterfront views

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. major Energy

    Burien Shoreline Working Group Continues Negotiations with Department of Ecology | WaterHavens: Seattle Area Waterfront Real Estate