Annual Amendment Cycle
Applications for amendments to the County's development regulations, zoning map, and Comprehensive Plan are considered annually. The annual amendment process is designed to solicit from the public and outside agencies suggested amendments to the Walla Walla County Comprehensive Plan and development regulations for future consideration. Please contact us if you have questions regarding the amendment process.
Blue Mountain Regional Trails Project
In an unprecedented regional effort, the cities of College Place, Dayton, Milton-Freewater, Waitsburg, and Walla Walla, joined forces with the counties of Columbia, Umatilla, and Walla Walla, the county health departments, the Partnership for Greater Burbank, the ports of Columbia and Walla Walla, as well as the Walla Walla Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Community Council to develop a "Blue Mountain Region Trails - Ridges, Towns, and Rivers" plan that will span all local jurisdictions. The desired project outcome is the development of a community driven, and locally supported regionwide non-motorized trail and transportation network that will integrate existing and planned urban sidewalks and bike routes with urban and regional trails. This network will provide access to outdoor recreation opportunities, increased walking and biking options, and connectivity among community centers and cultural, historical, and natural resource sites throughout the region.
More information available here.
The Walla Walla County Comprehensive Plan is an official document adopted by the Board of County Commissioners as a guide to making decisions about the future development of Walla Walla County. The Comprehensive Plan is a legal document with goals and policies and a series of maps, tables, figures, and appendices. It strives to balance the community’s financial ability to support growth with its projected increase in population and employment and the need for environmental protection. As part of these efforts to manage growth, the Comprehensive Plan establishes broad land use designations (see handout) for all unincorporated areas of the county.
Walla Walla County Comprehensive Plan - Adopted August 5, 2019
Countywide Planning Policies
In order to facilitate the coordination of planning and provide a written policy statement to guide the development of Comprehensive Plans under the Washington State Growth Management Act, the County and the cities of Walla Walla, Prescott, College Place, and Waitsburg adopted Countywide Planning Policies in 1993.
There are five primary types of critical areas in Walla Walla County: fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, wetlands, geologically hazardous areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, and frequently flooded areas. These areas are regulated under Walla Walla County Code (WWCC) Chapter 18.08. The purpose of these regulations is to "designate and classify ecologically sensitive and hazardous areas and to protect these areas and their functions and values, while also allowing for reasonable use of private property" (WWCC 18.08.005). Critical areas maps are available below.
Ordinance No. 476 - including amendments to Chapter 18.08
Critical Areas Maps
Critical Aquifer Recharge Area (CARA) Documents:
BAS Update by Golder Associates 2011-09-20
Memorandum by Golder Associates 2012-10-30
Letter from Laurie Morgan (Department of Ecology) 2011-01-20
Memorandum by Golder Assoicates 2012-11-07
Aquifer Vulnerability Map 8
Figures Transmittal Sheet 2012-01-04
SGA Figures 1A - 9A December 2011
SGA Study Area Figures 1-9 December 2011
Growth Management Act
The Growth Management Act (GMA) was adopted to address ways to accommodate growth. It requires that the fastest-growing cities and counties complete comprehensive plans and development regulations to guide future growth. All jurisdictions are required to protect critical environmental areas and conserve natural resource lands, such as farms and forests. The GMA calls for communities to review and, if necessary, revise their plans and regulations every eight years to ensure they remain up-to-date.
Resource lands and applicable uses can be reviewed within WWCC 17.16 - Permitted Uses. The four agricultural zoning districts which are classified “agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance” are: PA-40, EA-120, GA-20, and AR-10.
Ordinance 325 - Regarding recreational and cultural land uses in the county's resources zones in response to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.
Ordinance 328 - Approving amendments resulting in a change to WWCC 17.31, "Clustering Provisions" in response to the Washington Growth Management Hearings Board.
Ordinance 385 - Amend WWCC Title 16 – Subdivisions, in order to ensure compliance with the GMA and provide clarity to procedural requirements.
Ordinance 409 - Approving a request by Walla Walla County to amend WWCC 18.08 – Critical Areas, designating and protecting additional areas as critical aquifer recharge areas and changing regulations to ensure compliance with the GMA.
Marijuana Land Uses
In 2014 the County adopted Ordinance 425, which prohibits land uses relating to recreational marijuana, including but not limited to, production, processing, storage and retail sales of recreational marijuana and recreational marijuana-derived products. More documents relating to the these amendments are available here.
On Thursday, June 30, 2016 the Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance 448 in response to new state laws relating to medical marijuana. This ordinance enacted a 6-month moratorium and interim zoning, effective until December 30, 2016, which establishes cooperatives, marijuana producers, marijuana processors, marijuana retailers, and the sale of marijuana and/or marijuana products as prohibited land uses in unincorporated Walla Walla County.
On Friday, December 23, 2016 the Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance 461 in response to new state laws relating to medical marijuana; prohibiting cooperatives, marijuana producers, marijuana processors, marijuana retailers, and the sale of marijuana and/or marijuana products in unincorporated Walla Walla County.
A pre-application meeting is a meeting between County staff and a project applicant that takes place before an application is made to the County. The purpose of a pre-application meeting is to help the developer be aware of the regulations and processes that will affect his or her proposal as well as to give an initial indication as to the major issues and requirements that various County departments may have regarding the proposal.
Pre-application request form
The County is required to review projects under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) as prescribed in RCW 43.21(C). Projects are reviewed under SEPA unless they fall within the exemptions of the act. All of the documents are on file in the WWJCDA office and are available for public inspection. Copies can be made for a nominal fee after filing a written request. The County's SEPA responsible official is the Community Development Department Director.
The responsible official reviews the environmental checklist and makes one of three decisions known as a "threshold determination." All threshold determinations fall into one of the following categories:
- determinations of significance (DS);
- determinations of non-significance (DNS); or
- mitigated determinations of non-significance (MDNS).
An environmental impact statement must be prepared if a determination of significance is issued. Threshold determinations can be appealed pursuant to the provisions in the County code. Please contact County staff if you have questions about public comment periods and appeals of SEPA determinations.
Shoreline Master Program
Under the Washington State Shoreline Management Act (SMA) local governments have the primary responsibility for initiating the planning program and administering the regulatory requirements of the Act. The Department of Ecology acts in a supportive and review capacity. Walla Walla County adopted a Shoreline Master Program, which was approved in May 1975, in order to implement requirements of the SMA. Please visit the Department of Ecology website for more information on the SMA and shoreline regulation.
Walla Walla County has recently completed an update of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The County worked with the Cities of Prescott, Waitsburg and Walla Walla on the update; information on the Regional SMP Update process is available here. The new SMP went into effect on July 30, 2018.
Title 17 of the Walla Walla County Code establishes zoning districts, zoning maps, and development standards to regulate land use in the unincorporated areas of Walla Walla County. The establishment of zoning districts is intended to implement the growth management goals and policies identified for each land use designation in the Land Use Element of the Walla Walla Comprehensive Plan.
Portable Document Formats (PDF's)
Countywide Zoning Map
Walla Walla / College Place Zoning Map
Burbank Zoning Map
Please be advised that the data contained in Walla Walla County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) is subject to constant change and that Walla Walla County, its agents, consultants, contractors, or employees collectively referred to as “the County” do not guarantee that the information presented is accurate or complete.
All data contained in the County’s GIS is provided by the County AS IS without warranty of any kind, implied or express, as to the information being accurate or complete. With knowledge of the foregoing, by proceeding to use the County’s GIS, each user agrees to waive, release and indemnify Walla Walla County, its agents, consultants, contractors or employees from any and all claims, actions, or causes of action for damages or injury to persons or property arising from the use or inability to use Walla Walla County’s GIS data.
Walla Walla County will not be responsible for any data distributed by others. The release of data to the requestor does not authorize the party to redistribute or resell or act as an agent for any data received from the County.
315 W. Main Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362
Voluntary Stewardship Program
Staff memorandums to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) with background information on the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP), authorized by ESHB 1886 (Ruckelshaus Process Bill), are included below.