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The following list represents commonly asked questions of the Code Enforcement Department.  If you have further questions, please contact:

Denise Stoneham, Code Enforcement Officer    
Mill Valley Building Department, City Hall
26 Corte Madera Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Phone: (415) 389-4203 
            (415) 388-4033 x 4813
Fax:     (415) 381-1736
Email:     dstoneham@cityofmillvalley.org


Who do I contact if I am having an animal issue?
My neighbor's construction project is making a lot of noise - what is allowed?
Can I flush my pool water onto the ground or down a storm drain?
Does the City offer Mediation Services?
Who do I report graffiti to?
Do I need a building permit?
What is required regarding trash, debris, indoor and outdoor storage?
I am concerned about hoarding – what do I do?
Does the City require yard and lot maintenance? If so, why?
What do I do if I own or know of a vacant, unsecured substandard structure?
What are the rules if I want to run a business out of my home?
Who do I contact if I want to change or put a new sign outside of my business?
Why should pools be maintained and what should I do if I know of someone with a pool that is not being maintained?
What are the dangers of mold and mildew and whom do I call if I encounter this problem?
I disagree that my property has a violation. Can I appeal the staff's determination of the violation?
How long do I have to fix the violation?
The person who turned me in has a violation on their property. Why aren't you investigating them?
How much will my building permit cost?
What will happen if I don't get a permit for the work that generated the violation?
Why do I have to pay penalties if I'm getting a permit to correct the violation?
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Q: Who do I contact if I am having an animal issue?
A:

The Marin Humane Society offers Animal Services to Mill Valley residents. Please visit their Animal Services page to find information and resources concerning the following:

  • Animal Emergencies
  • Complaints
  • Lost and Found Pets
  • Pet Licensing
  • Animal Permits

Marin Humane Society
171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd, Novato, CA 94949
Phone: 415-883-4621
Contact

 

Q: My neighbor's construction project is making a lot of noise - what is allowed?
A:

Construction man workingA: It depends on who is doing the work and when.

If you are a Construction Professional (i.e. a Licensed Contractor) or an owner/occupant doing your own construction on a site with an active Building Permit:

  • Mon-Fri - From 7:00 am to 8:00 am - Light noise associated with preparing the job site is permitted.
  • Mon-Fri - From 8:00 am to 5:00 pm - Heavy equipment/power tool noise associated with construction is permitted.
  • Mon-Fri - From 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm - Light noise associated with disassembling the job site is permitted.
  • Saturdays, Sundays and City Holidays - No construction is permitted. This includes painting and landscaping.

If you are an owner/occupant doing home maintenance NOT associated with a site with an active Building Permit:
Certain types of activities and noise sources associated with residential living are permitted under the City’s municipal code. With the exception of gas-powered leaf blowers, low-noise generating power garden equipment (such as hedge clippers, weed-eaters, lawn mowers) is permitted:

  • On weekdays (Mon-Fri) - from 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. 
  • Saturdays, and on Sundays and City holidays from 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
  • Unless expressly permitted by the City of Mill Valley, commercial landscape maintenance work on residential properties is not permitted on weekends and holidays.

Reminder: Gas Powered Leaf Blowers are Prohibited 
Gas Powered Leaf Blower v200.jpgPlease remember that the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers is prohibited by the Mill Valley Municipal Code in an effort to minimize air and noise pollution. Violators could be fined as much as $500.

Instead of using gas powered leaf blowers, residents and gardeners are encouraged to rake or sweep leaves and debris into piles and dispose in the appropriate green trash bin. Residents and gardeners can also use electric leaf blowers or electric leaf vacuums to collect and dispose of leaves. Please do not leave piles of leaves in the roadway. Leaves left in the street will block storm drains and may lead to flooding.

To conserve water, please do not use a watering hose to clear leaves and debris from driveways, sidewalks, and streets. This is a Marin Municipal Water District prohibited water use and can be punishable by a fine up to $500.

Residents who would like to assist in notifying their neighbors or their gardeners can print out this helpful flyer that explains the City’s ordinance in both English and Spanish.

Complaints:
Need to file a complaint?
Submit a Complaint Form to our Code Enforcement Officer. Weekends - call the Police Department at 415-389-4100. Please be prepared to provide the address, date, and time you witnessed the violation. If the violator is a contractor or gardener, please note the company name and vehicle license number.

 

Q: Can I flush my pool water onto the ground or down a storm drain?
A:

The City of Mill Valley urges residents to work with pool service providers that commit to flushing pool water into the sewer system instead of into the ground or down the storm drain.

Because many of us swim in chlorinated water at relatively high concentrations, we often don’t fully understand the toxicity of chlorine on the natural habitat that surrounds us. It’s quite simple: the concentration of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) in pool water is high enough to pollute a body of water 10 to 100 times its size if sent to the storm drain.

Because every storm drain in the City of Mill Valley empties into a sensitive natural body of water, such as a creek or wetland, introducing chlorine into those creeks and wetlands kills fish and frogs and the aquatic bugs they feed on.

City officials urge residents not to hire a pool service company that is unwilling to flush pool water into the sewer system.

 

Q: Does the City offer Mediation Services?
A:

Mediation thumbnailLooking for Mediation Services?  The City of Mill Valley participates in the County of Marin Mediation Services Program to offer mediation services to residents of the City of Mill Valley. Click here to learn more.

 

Q: Who do I report graffiti to?
A:

Report graffiti to the Police Department, 389-4100. They can provide information to private property owners on how to remove graffiti or arrange for the responsible public agency to remove it from public property.


 

Q: Do I need a building permit?
A:

Before you make improvements on your property or convert or remodel a structure, check with our Building Department to obtain information and required building permits. The City of Mill Valley requires a permit for replacing a water heater, and state regulations require seismic strapping of all water heaters when a building is sold.

 

Q: What is required regarding trash, debris, indoor and outdoor storage?
A:

Trash and debris on your property can invite criminal activity, graffiti and illegal dumping and can contribute to infestations of insects and rodents. Remove trash and debris and store all property in an approved manner. Check with our Planning Department to ensure you are complying with all regulations especially when storing or parking boats or commercial and recreational vehicles in a residential area.

Store inoperable vehicles in an enclosed building out of public view or remove them from your property. Participate in agency-sponsored trash/garbage removal programs that usually occur once a year. Mill Valley’s City ordinance (7.04.150) requires all residence to have disposal service.


 

Q: I am concerned about hoarding – what do I do?
A:

Hoarding occurs when the clutter in people's homes impair their basic living activities. Compulsive hoarding can cause fires, pest infestations and other health and safety hazards. To evaluate a hoarding situation and develop an effective plan to address those involved, contact the Code Enforcement Officer.


 

Q: Does the City require yard and lot maintenance? If so, why?
A:

Yes, the City requires you to trim or cut down trees that pose a danger of falling or obstruct the vision of motorists. Shrubs which boarder a yard along a sidewalk should also be kept clear from obstructing vehicular traffic or encroaching onto a sidewalk. Trim overgrown grass and vegetation or remove the grass and clippings from your property. Clear brush, weeds and dry grass from 30 to 100 feet around your home. The Mill Valley Fire Department can help you determine the exact distance based on slope, wind, neighborhood density, house construction, etc.


 

Q: What do I do if I own or know of a vacant, unsecured substandard structure?
A:

Vacant structures can become targets for vandals, criminal activities and a general nuisance for adjacent property owners. Contact the Code Enforcement Officer or Building Department for the proper procedures to secure the property and keep it secured.


 

Q: What are the rules if I want to run a business out of my home?
A:

Most businesses are not allowed to operate in residential areas. Contact the Code Enforcement Officer or Planning Department before you start a business to ensure you comply with all regulations.

 

Q: Who do I contact if I want to change or put a new sign outside of my business?
A:

Contact the Planning Department to obtain the requirements for size, location and types of temporary and permanent signs allowed within the City.


 

Q: Why should pools be maintained and what should I do if I know of someone with a pool that is not being maintained?
A:

Maintain your swimming pool with proper chemical treatments and cleaning or drain the water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and potentially spreading West Nile Virus. Report abandoned and unclean pools to the Code Enforcement Officer or to Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control, 800-231-3236 (toll free) & 707-285-2200 (office).

 

Q: What are the dangers of mold and mildew and whom do I call if I encounter this problem?
A:

Mold and mildew can cause serious health risks. For tips on removing and preventing mold, contact your local health department or visit the California Department of Public Health's Web site.

 

Q: I disagree that my property has a violation. Can I appeal the staff's determination of the violation?
A:

You can appeal any determination of violation. Appeals of some determinations may require a fee. We suggest the owner respond in writing immediately to avoid the loss of appeal rights. All appeals shall be submitted to the City Manager.


 

Q: How long do I have to fix the violation?
A:

Under most circumstances you will be given 30 days. This may involve simply stopping the illegal use or obtaining the necessary permits. Under some circumstances an extension of time may be granted when the property owner is steadily working to resolve the problem and is making progress.


 

Q: The person who turned me in has a violation on their property. Why aren't you investigating them?
A:

If you suspect there is a code violation on another property, you may contact Code Enforcement and provide this information. A Code Enforcement Inspector will investigate the matter. If a violation is found to exist, the owner will be contacted by letter and required to remove the violation and/or obtain the necessary permits for the violation.


 

Q: How much will my building permit cost?
A:

Permit fees are based upon the valuation of the project. Building staff will assist you in determining your cost.

 

Q: What will happen if I don't get a permit for the work that generated the violation?
A:

Code Enforcement strives to assist the property owner to obtain compliance. If permits are not obtained and the matter is corrected without a permit an administrative citation may be issued under section 7.04.190 of the Municipal code at this point a $100.00 fine shall be due and payable, with second and third citations for continued violations increasing incrementally thereafter. Should you then fail to pay the fines the City may place on lien on your property. This may prevent you from selling the property or obtaining refinancing or title insurance on the property.

 

Q: Why do I have to pay penalties if I'm getting a permit to correct the violation?
A:

The City of Mill Valley imposes penalties for building, zoning and some Municipal code violations. These penalties may be calculated in one of two different ways. When a permit can be issued to legalize a violation, penalties are two times the base permit fee. If the violation cannot be approved or legalized by a permit, you will be given (30) days to cease the unlawful use or demolish the unlawful structure. If you fail to comply with our direction, you may be penalized anywhere between $100 per day up to a maximum of $500 per day.

Where you fall within this penalty range is based upon the following:

  • The seriousness of the violation. Could the violation harm human health/safety or the environment?
  • The length of time the violation has existed.
  • The diligence and cooperation of the property owner.
  • The impact of the violation on other properties.
  • The owner's level of responsibility for the violation. Did the owner create or add to the violation?


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