Critical Areas Regulations Update

Snohomish County recently updated its Critical Areas Regulations (CAR). The update is mandated by the state Growth Management Act (GMA). GMA requires that the County review and update its comprehensive plan and development regulations, including CAR, according to a schedule established in RCW 36.70A.130.  The County's critical areas regulations were previously updated in 2007.

Find answers to some key questions about the recent CAR update below:

When were the regulations updated and when will they be effective?

The County adopted the updated regulations on September 2, 2015. They became effective on November 1, 2015. 

Is my property subject to these new regulations?

The new regulations apply to all unincorporated areas of the County, except for those properties within Shoreline Jurisdiction. 

Shoreline Jurisdiction includes all marine waters, segments of stream where the mean annual flow is more than 20 cubic feet per second, lakes and reservoirs over 20 acres and greater in area, associated wetlands and shore lands adjacent to these water bodies. This is typically land area within 200 feet of the water body. 

Where are the current regulations located?

The updated regulations are located in the following chapters of Snohomish County Code:

In a nutshell, what regulations changed?

Many of the amendments are technical corrections, providing consistent language between chapters of the Snohomish County Code (SCC) and clarification. A quick summary of the amendments can be found below.

Summary of Changes:

What if my property is near a shoreline?

The recent amendments to CAR do not apply within Shoreline Jurisdiction.

Properties that are within Shoreline Jurisdiction are subject to the provisions of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The State Department of Ecology has approval authority of the SMP, which includes critical areas regulations as applied to properties subject to the SMP.

The critical area regulations that apply to properties within Shoreline Jurisdiction were adopted in 2007 and are referenced in Chapter 30.67 SCC (Shoreline Management Program). To determine which regulations apply to properties within Shoreline Jurisdiction, please refer to: 

SCC 30.67.060(1): “Critical areas located within Shoreline Jurisdiction are subject to the regulations contained in chapters 30.62A, 30.62B and 30.62C as adopted by Amended Ordinance No. 06-061 on August 1, 2007 and 30.65 SCC as adopted by Amended Ordinance No. 07-005 on February 21, 2007, except as modified by SCC 30.67.060(2).”

The regulations that apply to properties within shoreline jurisdiction, adopted by Amended Ordinance No. 06-061 and Amended Ordinance No. 07-005, can be found below.

Applies within Shorelines Only:

Please contact Planning & Development Services Permit Center at (425) 388-3311 for help in determining if your property is within Shoreline Jurisdiction, and which regulations apply to your property.

Complete Ordinance
Amended Ordinance No. 15-034
as adopted on September 2, 2015

Project Staff
Troy Holbrook, Project Manager
(425) 388-3311, ext. 6257

Permitting Questions?
Permit Center
(425) 388-3311
Online Question Submittal