A resource for shoreline property owners
County Requirements: paraphrased from18.50.300.
Trails or stairwells to the shore are an essential part of shoreline living.
should be built with an eye to maintaining vegetation, minimizing erosion, and preserving the esthetic value of the shoreline.
Stairs or ramps are allowed from a residence to a
shoreline with an Exemption Permit provided that
certain criteria are met:
- Written approval that the stairs or ramp is exempt from a Substantial Development Permit.
- No roofs or awnings.
- All materials are subdued and blend into natural surroundings.
- No materials below Ordinary High Water Mark.
- No other beach access exists or is feasible.
- Maximum vertical height is 15 feet and the maximum width is 3 feet, check for landing requirements.
- The stairs or ramp may not interfere with normal erosion or accretion processes and must comply with bank stability requirements.
This access stairway preserves vegetation and uses the existing slope and natural materials.
Questions to consider when planning shoreline access:
- Is it possible to share shoreline access with a neighbor?
- Is there a route to the shore that travels along durable surfaces?
- To minimize erosion and maintain the stability of the shore can I design a trail that meanders
rather than going straight?
- Can the construction of a trail or stairs maintain the presence of trees and shrubs,
to keep the shoreline stable?
This shoreline stairway meanders in order to maintain slope stability and vegetation.
How do I get information about my parcel?
- San Juan County's parcel search
provides basic information and aerial views of your property.
- The Washington Department of Ecology's Coastal Atlas offers aerial views of
coastline properties and GIS information about vegetation and habitat, slope stability and a variety of other physical and ecological features.