The urban environment is a highly important element of the quality of life to the people of Port Angeles. A clean, healthy, and diverse natural environment along with a variety of historical and cultural amenities are critical elements of a high quality community.
Local environmental regulations and controls are intended to protect and enhance the area’s unique physical features and to create and maintain a community with a high quality of life where the land is used in a manner that is compatible with the area’s unique physical features, its natural amenities, and the overall environment.
Elements of the City’s natural environment that are protected include the City’s marine shoreline, the steep marine bluff facing the shoreline, the streams running through the city and the ravines that contain them, wetlands and other areas that deserve protection.
The City of Port Angeles’ environmental regulations are designed to balance environmental protections with development potential to maintain the area’s natural attraction and social well being.
Permits are required for all development and/or uses on sites with Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA’s).
A State Environmentally Sensitive Area (SEPA) Checklist may also be required to be submitted with a permit application. The SEPA isa standardized form that is designed to review the comprehensive and life-cycle environmental impacts of a project at the earliest possible time in the development process.
SEPA review includes a minimum 14-day public comment period. After the comment period closes, the City’s SEPA Responsible Official will issue a "Threshold Determination". Depending on the anticipated adverse impacts, the threshold determination may be a Determination of Non-Significance (DNS), a mitigated determination of Nonsignificance (MDNS) or a Determination of Significance (DS). When a Determination of Significance is issued, an Environmental Impact Statement will be required before a development may begin. For more information on the SEPA process and if your project requires SEPA review, please visit these websites, or contact City Staff.
Development in shoreline areas (200 feet upland of the Ordinary High Water Mark and all marine waters north to the International border). Development permits fall into categories distinguished by their association to the water. The Shoreline Master Program contains policy and regulatory language regarding Port Angeles shorelines. See Chapter 15.08 PAMC.
Development in wetland areas is strongly regulated due to the importance of wetlands to the environment. Wetlands fall into 4 categories based on their size, resource quality, and characteristics. Wetlands in the city are protected by additional land surrounding the wetland called a buffer. Wetland buffers are established based on the wetland category and are considered to be part of the environmentally sensitive area. See Chapter 15.24 PAMC
Streams, stream ravines, floodplains – frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas including erosion hazard areas, landslide hazard areas, and Seismic hazard areas, marine bluffs and habitat areas for priority species and species of concern. Work requiring this review include vegetation management for view enhancement on the marine bluff or stream ravine slope.
Minimum submittal requirements for ESA permitting is located in Section 15.20.060 of the Port Angeles Municipal Code.
Clearing, Grading, Filling and Drainage A permit to clear trees or move soil on, to or from a site may require a permit. Thresholds for requiring a permit are:
1. Land disturbance of 7000 square feet or new/replaced hard surfaces of 2000 square feet or more; 2. More than 100 cubic yards of fill and/or excavation (Quantities of fill and excavation are calculated separately and then added together to determine the total quantity for the site); 3.Any clearing, filling, excavation, or grading in an environmentally sensitive area, critical area or critical area buffer; 4. Clearing or grading that will likely penetrate the ground water table, including the construction of ponds and reservoirs; 5. An excavation which is more than five (5) feet in depth or which creates a cut slope greater than five (5) feet in depth or which creates a cut slope greater than five (5) feet in height and steeper than two units horizontal in one unit vertical (2:1); 6. Any re-grading or paving on an area used for stormwater retention or detention or alteration of an existing drainage course; 7. Any proposal to cut down or remove more than one quarter of any tree(s) that are required to be preserved by City code, plat condition, or other requirement.
Tree removal from private property within the city limits does not require a permit, if the area of disturbance is less than one acre. Make sure that the tree in question is not in the public right-of-way along the street or in the alley.
Removal and/or pruning of trees from public rights-of-way requires consultation with City staff and may require specific permits for work in the right-of-way and the submission of a ’Hold Harmless’ Waiver and Release form to the City.