Chapter 20.178


20.178.010    Purpose.

20.178.020    Compliance with standards.

20.178.030    Setbacks and exceptions.

20.178.040    Building material and colors.

20.178.050    Building height.

20.178.060    Entryways.

20.178.070    Windows.

20.178.080    Modulation.

20.178.090    Lighting.

20.178.100    Fencing.

20.178.110    Signage.

20.178.120    Historic rehabilitation/restoration standards.

20.178.010 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to set forth basic design standards for certain specified elements of the built environment of downtown Walla Walla. A downtown master plan was adopted by Ordinance 2004-45. This chapter serves as the design standards applicable to the downtown area to promote and preserve the character, qualities, and economic vitality of downtown. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.020 Compliance with standards.

Compliance with the standards set forth in this chapter shall be demonstrated through site plans, sign plans, and elevation drawings. The pertinent level of application, as identified in Sections 20.100.040.A through 20.100.040.J, shall be required for any new structure or exterior alteration of any kind in the downtown as defined by Section 20.06.030.D. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.030 Setbacks and exceptions.

All structures in the downtown area are required to have a “zero” front setback. However, recesses in the structure are required at entryways and encouraged at other strategic locations along the front of the structure such as display windows. In no event may recesses account for more than forty percent of the linear frontage of the structure. Exceptions to the “zero” front setback may be allowed when an area immediately in front of a structure is intended for an outdoor eating/drinking area, for public art, for use as a plaza or other public gathering place, or for some other display or activity related directly to the occupancy of the structure. A setback to allow parking in front of a structure is expressly prohibited.

Side setbacks shall also be “zero” for mid-block structures, and the side walls of such structures shall be immediately adjacent to the side wall of adjacent structures. There shall be no gaps or space of any kind between structures visible from the adjacent sidewalk.

Rear setbacks may also be “zero,” except that functional off-street loading areas of at least twenty-five feet in depth may be allowed for each structure pursuant to Section 20.126.140 and subject to review by the city engineer and the site plan review committee if the adjacent alley is to be used for maneuvering.

With respect to the downtown area, this section shall apply instead of Section 20.126.140 to the extent of any conflict therewith. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.040 Building material and colors.

Primary facade materials shall be stone, terra cotta, or brick consistent with materials historically used in the downtown area. Wood and glass doors are allowed and wood trim is permitted in moderation. Wood is also allowed in Victorian facade treatments. Molded concrete trim consistent with historic use is also allowed. Metal siding, corrugated fiberglass, aluminum siding, mirror or metallized reflective glass, plywood, pressboard, chip board siding, exterior insulated finish system (EIFS), vinyl, cinder block, and split-faced block, and all types of plastics and imitation materials are prohibited. Finishes that reflect light and glare are prohibited. A wide variety of colors is apparent throughout downtown, but traditional light or muted colors with a pastel or earth-tone hue are generally acceptable. All finished natural wood tones are permitted. Bright, heavily saturated and/or reflective shades of red, blue, green, orange, yellow, or black are considered out of character for the downtown area and are prohibited as full facade treatments, except that bright or heavily saturated shades of red, blue, green, orange, or yellow may be used as trim colors. Fluorescent or day-glow colors of any shade are prohibited. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.050 Building height.

All structures in the downtown area that front Rose, Main, and Alder Streets and Second Avenue shall be at least two full stories above sidewalk level, and multiple stories are encouraged. The main level of a structure shall generally be at sidewalk level, and no split level structures or split entry malls are permitted. Balconies and cantilevers are permitted subject to applicable permits to occupy right-of-way. Single story buildings must be designed and built to be structurally capable of supporting at least one additional level. (Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.060 Entryways.

A building’s primary door and entrance shall be located in the principal facade of the structure, and shall be oriented toward the street. The primary entrance must be readily apparent as a prominent architectural component. Entryways must be recessed from the front property line so that patrons have a queuing area out of the pedestrian flow. The recessed area must be at a minimum one and one-half times the width of the door to avoid a corridor-like effect. Doors shall be of wood and glass or glass with metal trim and shall permit clear two-way visibility. Metal doors, mechanical doors of any kind (except for handicap access), and revolving doors are prohibited. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.070 Windows.

Street level windows are required of all structures, including the sides of structures occupying corner lots. Windows shall begin at least two feet above the sidewalk and may extend vertically to the top of the first level. Street level windows shall be designed to engage the pedestrian and invite visual inspection of the interior of the establishment as well as to view displays of merchandise. As such, a maximum of ten percent of the window area (each pane to be calculated individually) may be taken up by opaque signage of any kind. Stenciled signage or other signage types that allow visual penetration through the lettering is encouraged. Tinted or reflective glazing is expressly prohibited. Windows may be recessed to allow patrons to view displays out of the pedestrian flow.

Upper level windows shall be appropriately framed by architectural features of the structure consistent with historic treatment in the downtown area. Unframed windows of any kind are not permitted. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.080 Modulation.

Segments of plain or uniformly treated store fronts that are out of context with adjacent or nearby buildings are prohibited. Such treatments may be avoided or mitigated through modulation. In architectural terms, modulation is a technique for visually dividing the facade so that it takes on the appearance of distinctly different structures or portions of structures. This architectural technique is used to add visual interest to long store fronts or to other structures that occupy a significant segment of a downtown block. Visual interest can also be achieved through repeating architectural features such as windows and the elements that frame them, and through recesses, offsets, and other variation in plane elevation sufficient to add shadow lines or depth to the facade. (Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.090 Lighting.

Outside lighting shall be minimal, and downtown businesses are encouraged to rely on ambient lighting provided by street lights for the safe illumination of the sidewalk area. Low wattage lighting may be used to highlight an entryway provided no glare is cast out onto the sidewalk. Merchants are also encouraged to illuminate window displays and interior spaces; provided, that no glare is cast onto the sidewalk area. Flashing or strobe type lighting is prohibited. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.100 Fencing.

Chain link and other types of metal fencing shall not be visible from the street or sidewalk. Where fencing is visible, fencing shall be wrought iron of black or, downtown, green or black. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.110 Signage.

A. Prohibited Signs. Roof signs, projecting signs above canopy level (except for blade signs described in subsection D of this section), pole or pylon signs, and internally illuminated signs such as cabinet signs, including internally illuminated canopies, are prohibited in the downtown area. No off-premises advertising of any kind is permitted.

B. Wall Signs. Wall signs must be either painted upon the wall, mounted flat against the building, or erected against and parallel to the wall not extending out more than twelve inches therefrom. Wall signs shall be located no higher than thirty feet above grade, measured from grade to the top of the sign. Wall signs may be externally illuminated provided no glare is apparent from off site. External illumination shall be in the form of lights mounted separately from signs. A neon sign may be permitted if substantially associated with a historic sign. Wall signs shall not cover any architectural details of the building, and may not extend beyond the wall on which they are mounted. The maximum combined area of all wall signs per street frontage shall not exceed twenty-five percent of the wall area. No combination of sign areas of any kind shall exceed one hundred fifty square feet per street frontage, excluding multiple building complexes and multiple tenant buildings.

C. Canopy Signs. Several types of canopy signs are permitted, including sign panels or individual letters attached to the vertical face of the canopy, freestanding letters affixed to the upper edge of a flat canopy, and panels suspended from the underside of a flat or sloped canopy. One canopy sign per street frontage is allowed, not to exceed one square foot of signage per one linear foot of building frontage.

D. Blade Signs. These are signs usually affixed to the building front, either above or below the canopy, projecting from the wall at ninety degrees. Blade signs below the canopy or transom windows are intended to be seen by pedestrians, and one per building frontage is allowed. The bottom edge of such signs must be at least eight feet above the walking surface, may not exceed six square feet in total area, and may not extend more than five feet from the building front. Blade signs may be externally illuminated provided no glare is cast into the sidewalk area. Blade signs above the canopy are intended to be readable from the street, and one per building frontage is allowed. They may be externally illuminated but must not exceed thirty-two square feet in total area. No dimension of the sign may exceed eight feet.

With respect to the downtown area, this section shall apply instead of Sections 20.204.080 and 20.204.210 to the extent of any conflict therewith. (Ord. 2019-38 § 19 (part), 2019: Ord. 2003-22 § 1, 2003: Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).

20.178.120 Historic rehabilitation/restoration standards.

Standards contained in this section are intended to assist property owners with the preservation of contributing or registered property’s historic significance through the preservation of historic materials and features. The purpose of these standards is to allow for an efficient contemporary use of a property without destroying materials, features, or finishes that are important in defining the building’s historic character.

A. Distinctive features, materials, finishes, construction techniques, or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property by defining its historic significance shall be preserved.

B. Whenever possible, deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where severity of deterioration requires replacement, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, materials (as possible), and other visual qualities. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.

C. Chemical or mechanical treatments, such as sandblasting, that can cause damage to historic materials shall not be used.

D. Significant archeological resources affected by a restoration or rehabilitation shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be taken.

E. Changes to properties that have taken place over time that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.

F. New additions, exterior alterations, or related construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. New work shall be distinguished from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.

G. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired. (Ord. 2003-19 § 1(part), 2003).