Shoreline & Property Info

Due to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), things appear to be getting dicey with the Department of Ecology (DOE); so if you have an interest in this State’s shoreline, you will want to spend a few minutes reading the Shoreline link below.

I have taken workshops in Shorelines, Wetlands, Salmon and Streams, as well as Non-Point Pollution, for my clients’ and my own benefit.While I have usually been able to recognize when a shoreline will cause trouble for a client, things are changing so fast, I cannot make this claim any longer, and will default to the COBI Planning department or other governmental agencies.


If you are interested in waterfront the above link will provide you with a summary of the new Shoreline Master Program guidelines and how they may impact you. The Washington Department of Ecology has adopted new rules that will completely overhaul shoreline development and use in our State. Local governments will have at least two years to implement the mandatory rules through amended Shoreline Master Programs. The Department of Ecology (DOE) adopted the new rules on 11/29/00 and they went into effect on 12/31/00. The linked White Paper, which was prepared by the Perkins Coie Environment Group under the sponsorship of the Washington Association of REALTORS(R), is just over five pages, and states, in part, “As the new rules are being implemented, property owners and investors may want to take steps to reduce uncertainty and protect investment values. Because the Shoreline Management Act Rules will take two or more years to implement, owners and investors in shoreline property should expedite development plans and attempt to vest their projects under existing Shoreline Master Programs.”

In the past, work on a shoreline had to be completed by March 15 or started after June 15, with permits approved by the City of Bainbridge Island (COBI), SEPA, Fisheries, Corps of Engineers, and oftentimes the Department of Natural Resources, depending on the project. I recommend that you talk to a COBI planner to get updated on any new procedures which may be in effect.

Seattle Fault Zone

A laser-based aerial mapping technology called LiDAR (light detection and ranging) has uncovered previously unknown faults on Bainbridge Island and adjacent areas. The above link includes a map depicting the fault zone, which stretches from the Seabeck area on the Hood Canal through the southern half of Bainbridge Island, and on to the Snoqualmie area in King County. The Toe Jam Fault Scarp link provides a close-up of where the fault scarp intersects Toe Jam Hill Road on Bainbridge Island, and provides the geologists an excuse to continue their history of unusual geological titles. This link also provides some insight to historical erosion and landslide areas on the North shore of Blakely Harbor where Halls Hill and Rockaway Beach Roads meet (the depiction of this as being the Point White area in the link is inaccurate).

Wetlands and Streams

A designated wetland as well as a stream usually means no structures or drainfield can be within 100 feet, with few exceptions; and this protected buffer must remain untouched…untrodden!

Forested Areas

You will find that the roots of trees hold soil very well, resulting in the deepest topsoil being in forested areas. Groups of trees protect each other from storms, and the first trees to be toppled by high winds will be those that stand alone, are in the inner circle of a cleared out home site, or are in an area that has been thinned.


More and more islanders are creating mini-farms and growing organic produce. A number of these farmers are selling their harvest at the Farmer’s Market through October.