Shoreline is stuck in the '70s, city staff says--at least as far as SEPA reviews are concerned.
A proposal is before the planning commission to update the city's standards for triggering a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review of project proposals.
SEPA, enacted in 1971, established thresholds for when environmental review is required for different projects. These rules were intended to provide a way to evaluate the environmental impacts of projects in communities that had minimal development regulations prior to 1971. Information obtained during the SEPA process can change a proposal to reduce likely impacts or condition or deny a proposal when adverse environmental impacts are identified. Since the City of Shoreline's incorporation in 1995, it has employed the lowest thresholds allowed by the Act.
During the 2012 legislative session the State Legislature adopted sweeping changes to SEPA. As part of the update, the Legislature modified the exempt thresholds for minor new construction and directed the Department of Ecology (DOE) to evaluate the rules that implement SEPA while maintaining levels of environmental protection.
In response, the city of Shoreline is considering raising its standards as well, and the Planning Commission encourages interested people to provide oral and/or written comments regarding the proposal at a public hearing tonight, March 21, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 17500 Midvale Avenue N, Shoreline, WA.
Copies of the proposal and staff report are available for review at the City Hall, 17500 Midvale Avenue N and the City’s website.
The vast majority of projects reviewed by the City result in a "Determination of Non-significance". This is because the City is planning under the Growth Management Act and is no longer a jurisdiction with minimal development regulations that need the support of SEPA. In fact, the City is viewed by many in the region as a place to study when looking for progressive and complete environmental regulations.
The State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
The City will be proposing amendments to its Development Code that will remove the bureaucracy of environmental review for minor projects that are considered to have minimal impact, require nominal analysis, and comply with adopted development regulations. This action will support City Council Goal #1 to strengthen Shoreline's economic base by streamlining development regulations and making the permit process predictable, timely and competitive.