Shore Access

San Juan County is a unique environment comprised entirely of island bound communities. Access to the shoreline is vital to the health, prosperity and future sustainability of all island communities. The intent of the Shore Access Program is to provide residents safe and legal public access to the shoreline. This is achieved through development of public right-of-way that abuts the shoreline within San Juan County. These access points allow for the benefit and enjoyment of the physical and aesthetic qualities of our natural environment and provide a means of transportation to, and throughout the county.

a) Identify Right of Way for shore access improvements.
b) Develop general design guidelines and site specific improvement plans for shore access.
c) Maintain or improve infrastructure that facilitates site appropriate public use.
d) Improve connectivity with existing non-motorized transportation networks.

Shore Access: Right of way that abuts fresh or salt water shoreline within San Juan County.
Right of Way: WAC 468-34-110A (12) states “A general term denoting land, property, or interest therein, usually in a strip, acquired for or devoted to highway transportation purposes.”

This program is funded with San Juan County Road Funds at $15,000 a year or as allocated in the Annual Road Program.

It is the stated goal of state and county legislation that existing access to water bodies be maintained for public benefit.
SJC 18.60.090(C) states “Roads that abut a body of fresh or salt water may not be vacated except as provided for in RCW 36.87.130. Roads that have a public amenity (e.g., scenic vistas or pull-outs) should not be vacated. Roads that provide a means of public access to the shoreline shall not be vacated.”

RCW 36.87.130 states “No county shall vacate a county road or part thereof which abuts on a body of salt or freshwater unless the purpose of the vacation is to enable any public authority to acquire the vacated property for port purposes, boat moorage or launching sites, or for park, viewpoint, recreational, educational or other public purposes, or unless the property is zoned for industrial uses.”

RCW 90.58.020 “the public's opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally.