COLLEGE PLACE — Major changes may be in store for the city’s development code, including regulation of vacation rentals and allowing cottage homes (sometimes referred to as “mother-in-law” houses) in residential areas.

Written comments are now being taken on the proposed revisions, and a public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 by the city Planning Commission. The final decision on any changes is expected to go before the City Council in October, said Jon Rickard, city Community Development director.

“It’s a whole revamp of the zoning and development code, and we’re incorporating things we never had before,” Rickard said about the proposed updates.

The draft document can be viewed online at

The regulations for short-term rentals, also known as vacation rentals by owners or VRBOs, is an outgrowth of discussions started by the City Council and city officials in 2018. That followed the city of Walla Walla’s enactment of VRBO regulations in November of the previous year.

The proposed regulations can be found in section 14.60.120 of the draft development standards under “vacation rentals.”

Rickard said the regulations are intended to protect neighboring properties, ensure police and city officials have local contacts for owners and require annual inspections and adequate parking, among other issues.

In other areas, changes to the city’s zoning for single-family residences will allow duplexes and accessory dwelling units in every residential neighborhood as well as list what structures will and will not be allowed. Height and setback restrictions for accessory buildings will also be defined in the revised code.

The new regulations for accessory buildings are in section 14.60.150 of the draft development standards.

Other changes will increase the number of lots allowed in a short plat from four to nine lots maximum and require planting strips for street beautification on every new arterial, collector and local street in residential subdivisions. The current city standard does not require planting strips, Rickard said.

Andy Porter can be reached at or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.