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About UPWA

The Urban Public Waterfront Association is a non-partisan, not-for profit policy council and think tank dedicated to providing ways to connect people to the sea. UPWA helps waterfront communities and developers enhance the intrinsic value of shoreline properties in ways that inspire and engage broad public support. Including:

* Developing public waterfront activation programs that draw people to the shoreline.

* Providing research, conceptualization and development of public sites that optimize engagement with the maritime environment.

* Enabling the facilitation of water born pier to pier transportation.

* Offering education and outreach to inspire environmental stewardship and community interaction.

UPWA Story

The Urban Public Waterfront Association was founded on the principal that everyone should have the ability to connect with the sea. The sea has a profound influence on every single person living on earth. It is a pathway between a great majority of the communities and nations of this planet.

We believe there is a substantial need to increase usable public access to the marine environment in most coastal communities. More than just a desire for water views and wading beaches, our members recognize that meaningful public access can only be achieved when the public has the ability to interact with local maritime vessels.

Boats provide the means for people to enjoy, travel, explore, and transport goods. Shoreline docks and floats are necessary for making a meaningful connection.

The Urban Public Waterfront Association is about inspiring and implementing concepts for creating and activating human connections to the sea.

The Need for Public Waterfront Access Initiatives

Over the decades, the demand for waterfront land increased and consequently diminished public access to traditional maritime activities. Bigger ships, sprawling high security port districts and large-scale private industrial development pushed out community-scaled publicly accessible shoreline amenities. Municipal docks, Marina's, boat rental houses, fishing piers, and amusement parks once dotted the Seattle shorelines. Although many such amenities were private enterprises, they offered open public access. Today, there are few places where the general public can safely access small vessels at the water's edge.

Since the 1970's the Washington State legislature has recognized the need for increasing public access to the shores of Puget Sound. The legislation read:

"Public access includes the ability of the general public to reach, touch, and enjoy the water's edge, to travel on the waters of the state, and to view the water and the shoreline from adjacent locations"--(WAC 173-26-221)

Water access not only provides for more enjoyment, but provides an incentive for citizens to become more aware of the intricate ecosystems of the region. Increased public access encourages stewardship and participation in the preservation of the aquatic environment.

A Commitment to Safe Harbors

Part of the reason for a decline in public waterfront access is the increase in regulations that govern shoreline infrastructure. We are committed to create opportunities for solutions that will continue to provide safe public access to the maritime environment.

The sea is an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment for a lot of people. It has become increasingly unfamiliar as both economic and regulatory barriers increase.

The public needs safe places to access boats. Protection from sea waves reduces movement of floating docks and vessels while protecting shorelines from erosion. There is much that can be done in the early stages of conceptualizing new waterfront access sites.

UPWA is committed to helping find the best solutions for new waterfront maritime access cites. Many of our active members are experienced captains and vessel operators who have first-hand knowledge of the sea. We provide information to planners, architects and designers to aid in the successful implementation of waterfront projects.

We Support Private Property Rights

We do not advocate for public acquisition of private lands. We believe that private property ownership is vitally important in maintaining a robust and diverse urban maritime environment. We work with both private land owners and municipalities to create active waterfront environments.

We are not a government agency, nor are we affiliated with any governmental organizations. We are supported by private citizens and local maritime businesses who desire increased economic and experiential connections between the sea and the people who live around its shores.