After a comprehensive two-year public engagement process that included 12 public meetings, several community workshops, and online surveys, the City of Mill Valley's Housing Element has been approved by the State of California's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).
"The approval of the Housing Element marks an important milestone and reflects the City’s commitment to a vibrant, welcoming, small town community that embraces diversity in housing, income levels, and lifestyles," Mayor Urban Carmel said. “The entire two-year process placed a high priority on community engagement and emphasized a balanced, inclusive, and open approach. Thanks to everyone for your valuable contributions.”
The Housing Element is a significant chapter in the City's General Plan, addressing housing needs through locally appropriate policies and programs. State law mandates regular updates to Housing Elements due to the statewide importance of housing affordability and availability. The approved Housing Element is part of an 8-year update cycle (2023-2031).
The current Housing Element highlights a significant aspect from past iterations: Mill Valley's Regional Housing Needs Allocation surged by over 671% compared to the previous eight-year cycle. In compliance with the state's housing mandate, the City had to plan for an additional 865 residences over the eight-year planning period. This posed a considerable challenge for City officials, marking one of the most demanding Housing Elements in Mill Valley's 50-year history. This complexity is intensified by the fact that Mill Valley is a built-out community with 97% of parcels already developed and environmentally constrained with 86% of parcels situated in areas of heightened fire risk and/or flood plains.
“A huge thanks to the community, Council, Planning Staff, and Commission for their efforts,” Planning Commission Chair Jon Yolles said. “The Housing Element provides a blueprint to achieve our mandated housing goals. By locating most new housing near transit and services, we are optimizing for sustainability and diversity with our housing stock.”
The Housing Element includes a housing needs assessment that analyzes demographic, employment, and housing trends to identify current and projected housing needs, including special housing requirements. It also includes a review of the prior Housing Element to measure progress in policy implementation and a housing sites inventory that lists available sites for housing development or redevelopment to meet future needs at all income levels.
It details the City’s plan to implement a robust community engagement program reaching all economic levels and historically underrepresented groups and analyzes and addresses barriers to housing development. Finally, it details specific housing-related policies and programs for the 2023-2031 period to fulfill identified housing needs. It proposes goals, objectives, and policies to address disparities, promote integration, and comply with fair housing laws.
“I want to recognize Principal Planner Danielle Staude, City Attorney Inder Khalsa and her team at Richards, Watson & Gershon (RW&G), the Planning Commission, Director of Planning & Building Patrick Kelly, and the City Council for the enormous effort on the Housing Element,” City Manager Todd Cusimano said. “In the approval letter from HCD there were two pages of bullet points of what we need to complete in 2024 and 2025, so the work is just beginning,” he continued. “It is a major accomplishment for the City and the community, and we thank everyone for their great work.”
City staff will periodically update the Council and community on the implementation of the adopted Housing Element. To stay informed, please subscribe to the City’s Housing Element Updates eNewsletter here.
Read the HCD’s Letter announcing the Adoption of the City's Housing Element here.
Learn more about the City’s 2023-2031 Housing Element here.