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City’s New Zoning & Design Committee to Take Visual Approach at June 17 Meeting
Posted Date: 6/17/2014

... Multi Unit Housing v250

Zoning and Design
Advisory Committee

Tuesday, June 17
6:00 pm
Terrace Lounge
Mill Valley Community Center
180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley

In its ongoing quest to update the City’s zoning and design standards for multi-family residential development proposals and mixed-use (commercial and residential) development proposals, the City of Mill Valley’s Zoning and Design Advisory Committee (ZDAC) meets again tonight at the Community Center.

The committee – comprised of nine civic leaders, residents and business owners – will take a visual approach to creating design standards for multi-family and mixed-use project proposals. City staff and M-Group and Karen Warner Associates, the same consultants who assisted the City in the preparation and certification of its 2009-2014 Housing Element, will present a slideshow of different design elements to the committee on topics like how to handle parking and how to address the height, bulk and mass of a project.

In doing so, City Staff will track where design considerations conflict with existing development standards or where development standards should be introduced, and the Committee will consider potential changes to the development standards at a later meeting.

Once the committee develops a consensus on what design elements they like and don’t like, staff and the consultants will develop design guidelines based on those preferences. Those guidelines will then go to the Planning Commission for approval.

The panel held its first meeting on May 20 at the Community Center, where it discussed its role, heard a presentation on design guidelines and development standards, and focused on existing multi-family residential developments in Mill Valley, including recent and older projects.

The nine members of the Committee, who were appointed in April by Mill Valley Mayor Stephanie Moulton-Peters and City Manager Jim McCann also answered a series of questions about Mill Valley, such as their favorite physical characteristics, physical attributes they’d like to change about it and their favorite multi-family residential development in town.

The Committee, which includes City Councilman Ken Wachtel, Planning Commissioners Ricardo Capretta and Chris Skelton, Chamber of Commerce Liaison Bruce Dorfman and residents Michael Dyett, Dan Kelly, Burton Miller, Jim Parrinello and Stephanie Witt, also spent time identifying its exact workload. The ZDAC will focus its efforts on identifying development standards for multi-family residential development, such as lot coverage and setback and parking standards, as well as design guidelines, such as building articulation and sustainable design for mixed use and multi-family projects.

The committee will update the Planning Commission and City Council on its progress in late summer/early fall 2014 and then submit its work to the Planning Commission and City Council for final review and adoption. A Community Meeting featuring both the City Council and the Planning Commission will be held in September as a summary of the work done to date. The goal is to have the first documents from the ZDAC to present to City Council by late 2014.

The third component of ZDAC’s original slate of work – policy-related modifications and additions to the Zoning Code to address state law and to review and create affordable housing regulations – has been turned over to the Planning Commission. Before the Commission takes on the issue of affordable housing, however, the Committee will discuss the City’s Inclusionary Housing policies before making recommendations on those policies to the Commission, which will hold hearings on those policies.

The Planning Commission will also analyze and update:

  • The City’s condominium conversion regulations as required by State Law
  • Affordable housing, including Density Bonus as required by State Law
  • Housing Overlay
  • Special Needs Housing as required by State Law

The formation of the ZDAC is a major step in the City’s efforts to update its Housing Element, which is one of required components of the General Plan, the City’s road map for development through 2040. The City Council adopted an updated General Plan in October 2013, the City’s first General Plan update since 1989.

An update of the City’s 2009-2014 Housing Element was part of the recently completed General Plan. The City must adopt the 2015-2023 Housing Element by the end of 2014 in order to avoid to having to switch to a shorter four-year update cycle.

Addressing the City’s dearth of development standards and design guidelines was identified as a major goal in the 2009-2014 Housing Element. The City currently has limited development standards for commercial and multi-family zoning districts, and utilizes its Single Family Residential Design Guidelines for infill and larger-scale mixed use and multi-family projects.

All ZDAC meetings are open to the public and are publically noticed. The ZDAC meets at 6 pm on June 17, July 21, August 18, September 16, October 21 and November 18 at the Mill Valley Community Center, with the exception of the August 18 meeting, which will be at the Mill Valley Library.

Click here for more information on the ZDAC and to keep track of its progress and meeting dates.