Upzoned

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August 18, 2021  

You Need to Know About Walla Walla, Washington

August 18, 2021

Have you heard of Walla Walla? It's a city of 32,000 located in the southeastern region of Washington state, in the Walla Walla valley. Given that it's a fairly secluded place (the closest big cities, Portland and Seattle, are four or more hours away), we wouldn't blame you if it hasn't turned up on your radar.

You should definitely be paying attention to Walla Walla, though, because starting in 2018, it's been quietly adapting zoning changes that have eliminated single-family-only zones.

These changes were prompted by the recognition that the city is growing, but it is unable to grow outward. Walla Walla acknowledged that it must reinvest in itself. So, after a two-year process, the city consolidated its neighborhood zoning districts into one, and reformed the regulations to allow a broad spectrum of neighborhood-friendly uses. The site and development standards have been radically simplified.

On this week's episode of Upzoned, host Abby Kinney and special guest Strong Towns Board Member John Reuter "upzoned" this story—i.e., they look at it through the Strong Towns lens. They discuss why single-family zoning is ultimately unhelpful for the evolution of communities, and look at Walla Walla as a case study for possible alternatives to single-family zoning.

Then, in the downzone, John has been reading about the toll of racism, and Abby just got back from a hiking trip.

Additional Show Notes