More than 170,000 homes are bought and sold each year in Washington state. Confusion exists about the effecct the label "non-conforming use" has on shoreline buildings after regulations change over time.
Senate Bill 5451, sponsored by Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), simply removes the designation "nonconforming use" from residential shoreline evaluation.
Substitute Bill 5451 passed 48-0 in the state Senate and 77-19 in the state House. Governor Gregoire signed it into law June 22, 2011.
The bill in its entirety:
AN ACT Relating to shoreline structures in a master program adopted under the shoreline management act; adding a new section to chapter 90.58 RCW; and creating a new section.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1.
(1) The legislature recognizes that there is concern from property owners regarding legal status of existing legally developed shoreline structures under updated shoreline master programs. Significant concern has been expressed by residential property owners during shoreline master program updates regarding the legal status of existing shoreline structures that may not meet current standards for new development.
(2) Engrossed House Bill No. 1653, enacted as chapter 107, Laws of 2010 clarified the status of existing structures in the shoreline area under the growth management act prior to the update of shoreline regulations. It is in the public interest to clarify the legal status of these structures that will apply after shoreline regulations are updated.
(3) Updated shoreline master programs must include provisions to ensure that expansion, redevelopment, and replacement of existing structures will result in no net loss of the ecological function of the shoreline. Classifying existing structures as legally conforming will not create a risk of degrading shoreline natural resources.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2.
A new section is added to chapter 90.58 RCW to read as follows:
(1) New or amended master programs approved by the department on or after September 1, 2011, may include provisions authorizing:
(a) Residential structures and appurtenant structures that were legally established and are used for a conforming use, but that do not meet standards for the following to be considered a conforming structure: Setbacks, buffers, or yards; area; bulk; height; or density; and
(b) Redevelopment, expansion, change with the class of occupancy, or replacement of the residential structure if it is consistent with the master program, including requirements for no net loss of shoreline ecological functions.
(2) For purposes of this section, "appurtenant structures" means garages, sheds, and other legally established structures. "Appurtenant structures" does not include bulkheads and other shoreline modifications or over-water structures.
(3) Nothing in this section:
(a) Restricts the ability of a master program to limit redevelopment, expansion, or replacement of over-water structures located in hazardous areas, such as floodplains and geologically hazardous areas; or
(b) affects the application of other federal, state, or local government requirements to residential structures.