In 1961, the state legislature allowed the formation of two-year colleges in counties where a four-year institution already existed. Shoreline Community College was proposed that same year by the trustees of the Shoreline School District as part of its adult education program. The trustees purchased land that had been used as a hunting preserve from the family of William Boeing (1881-1956). The new campus was at N 160th Street and Greenwood Avenue N, north of Seattle in unincorporated King County.
In a tacit agreement with the Seattle School District, Shoreline concentrated on offering an academic program, whereas Seattle Community College would focus on trade and industrial vocational programs.
In 1967, the state legislature shifted control of the community colleges from school districts to the state, making the community college system its own force in education in the state.