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Amendments to Commercial Zoning Regulations
Posted Date: 9/17/2012 1:00 PM

The City of Mill Valley Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the commercial zoning regulations contained in the City’s Zoning Ordinance (Title 20 of the Mill Valley Municipal Code). The amendments are part of a comprehensive revision of the City’s Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. The public hearing on the proposed commercial amendments will be part of the agenda for the Planning Commission’s regular meeting of Monday, September 24, 2012. The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM and will be held in the City Council Chambers at Mill Valley City Hall, 26 Corte Madera Avenue, Mill Valley, CA. The meeting will also be webcast and can be viewed at by going to the Webcasting page.

The Planning Commission previously took public testimony and discussed these changes at their meetings of April 25, May 9, June 13, June 27, August 22 and October 24, 2011 and July 23, 2012. Background information and a video record of those meetings can be viewed at the same web link as shown above.

The proposed changes to the City’s commercial zoning regulations focus on 5 general areas:

  • A specific “Downtown” commercial zone. Currently, the City has two commercial zoning districts: Neighborhood Commercial (C-N) and General Commercial (C-G). The C-N zone is primarily downtown (Lytton Square, etc.) and Miller Avenue and the C-G zone covers the Alto Center area and Highway 101 frontage. A Downtown Commercial (C-D) zone would create the ability to identify a mix of uses that were more compatible with the character of downtown and different from the City’s other commercial areas.
  • Permitted and Conditionally Permitted Uses by Zone. Even though the City currently has two distinct commercial zoning districts – C-N and C-G – the Zoning Ordinance only has one list of permitted (those uses allowed without any formal zoning review by the City) and conditionally permitted uses (those that require a Conditional Use Permit following a hearing by the Planning Commission) that covers both zones. The proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance would establish a separate list of permitted and conditionally permitted uses for each zoning district that would be specific to and reflect the overall character and mix of uses appropriate for those areas. A definition of and regulations related to “formula businesses” (or “chains”, including both food and retail) is also under consideration.
  • Use Categories and Definitions. Currently, the City’s zoning ordinance has a list of very specific types of permitted and conditionally permitted commercial uses: “card and stationary shops”, “dressmaking, millinery, sewing, shoe repair and tailor shops”, “luggage stores”, “ice cream and yogurt shops”, and so on. This is just a sampling, but you can probably tell that many of these listings are out-of-date or don’t reflect the current trends in retail and commercial development. The proposed changes provide more general, but defined categories of uses. For example, instead of a long list of uses defined by the goods they sell, there is a general category called “Retail Sales”. Other similar headings include “Maintenance and Repair Services” or “Banks and Financial Services”. By using these general headings and defining what each one of these categories means, the new zoning regulations will stay current longer and evolve along with the changing marketplace.
  • Changing the existing “Professional and Administrative Office (P-A)” Zoning District to a proposed “Limited Commercial” Zoning District. The intent of this proposed amendment would be to eliminate the P-A zone as a stand alone district and incorporate it into the City’s commercial zoning regulations. It would still permit the office uses already located in the areas designated as P-A, but also recognize the existing low impact commercial uses (primarily salons and other personal services) that have existed in these areas for many years, even though they are not permitted by the existing P-A zoning regulations.
  • Revised Commercial Zoning District Boundaries. Once the Commission has taken public testimony and completed its deliberations on the proposed amendments to the text of the commercial zoning regulations, it will also consider possible amendments to the City of Mill Valley Zoning Map to determine the boundaries of the Downtown, Neighborhood and General Commercial districts, as well as boundaries based on the outcome of the Professional and Administrative Office/Limited Commercial (C-L) proposal.

The proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance have been determined to be categorically exempt from the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to Section 15305 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines, which exempts minor alterations in land use limitations which do not result in any changes to density, and pursuant to Section 15061(b)(3) of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) guidelines, because there is no possibility that it will create a significant effect on the environment.

Materials related to this item are available for public review in City Hall between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday–Friday (except Friday, September 14, 2012, when City Hall is closed). All interested persons may appear and be heard at the Public Hearing. City publications will be made available upon request in the appropriate format to persons with disabilities. The accessible entrance and parking are located in the main parking area behind City Hall. If you need an accommodation to attend or participate in this meeting due to a disability, please contact the City Clerk in advance of the meeting at (415) 388-4033. TDD phone number is: 711.

Mike Moore
Director of Building & Planning
(415) 388-4033