The feasibility of new housing at 1 Hamilton Drive near the Public Safety Building will be reviewed again by the City Council on Feb. 7.

Can the City of Mill Valley successfully create conditions to ensure that dozens of people who work in Mill Valley but cannot afford to live here can do so, thus expanding opportunity and reducing traffic? 

On Feb. 7 via Zoom, the Mill Valley City Council continues its review of the feasibility of its plans to create conditions to ensure that dozens of people who work in Mill Valley but cannot afford to live here can do so, thus expanding opportunity and reducing traffic. REGISTER FOR THE COUNCIL MEETING HERE.

The feasibility study focuses on a City-owned portion of 1 Hamilton Drive as “exempt surplus land,”  near the Public Safety Building to build affordable rental housing. At least 80 percent of the parcel must be used for housing and at least 40 percent of the total number of units must affordable to households with incomes equal to or less than 75 percent of the max income of lower income households.

In September, the council selected EAH Housing as its developer partner on the site, and directed City Manager Alan Piombo to work out an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) to establish the terms of the partnership for the potential lease or sale of property and development of affordable rental housing there. EAH Housing’s CEO is Mill Valley resident Laura Hall.

At its Feb. 7th meeting, the council decides whether to approve the ENA and allocate funds from the city’s affordable housing trust to support pre-development activities like community outreach, site planning, design and environmental review. The first community workshop as part of the community outreach is expected to occur in mid-March, and will focus on issues like the relocation of the existing restrooms, electric charging stations and public parking of up to a total of 50 public parking spaces.

The community will have an opportunity to provide input and share their concerns. But it seems some neighbors are unwilling to engage with that invitation, as attorney Patrick Soluri from Soluri Meserve has submitted a written threat of litigation on behalf of the “Friends of Hauke Park,” a subject the council will discuss in closed session Monday night.

Facing significant opposition from residents in the Enchanted Knolls neighborhood and adjacent areas, councilmembers have sought to dispel the notion that a development at 1 Hamilton Drive would be the lone effort to address the City’s efforts to create conditions for more affordable housing. Hamilton Drive-area residents have pushed City officials to explore other neighborhoods and housing opportunities before doing so in their part of town, which has a history of multi-use and some affordable developments. 

Councilmembers have countered that the Hamilton Drive site shows the most promise as a City-owned parcel in proximity to transit corridors and commercial areas, but that all other options are on the table. “This is not going to be the only site we will look at for affordable housing,” Councilmember Urban Carmel added in September, noting that other sites, like the Edgewood Reservoir, the Miller Avenue commercial corridor and areas around the Mill Valley Golf Course and Boyle Park tennis courts, are potentially on the table.


On a very much related note, at a workshop via Zoom on Feb. 16, city officials continue their work on the process of creating a new Housing Element for years 2023-2031, a long-term, state-mandated deep dive into the future of housing in our community.

The process continues amidst the City Council’s heightened focus on creating the framework for more affordable housing in Mill Valley, as well as the ABAG’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation that calls for an eye-popping increase in the number of units to be planned for by the city, from 129 units in the 2014-2022 cycle to 865 units in 2023-2031.

But at a 2023-2031 Housing Element workshop in November – its second to date – city officials made it clear that they are dead serious about pulling every lever possible to create the conditions that would significantly expand on the approximately 6,670 current housing units and support the amount of additional housing for which they’re on the hook, according to ABAG. That long-term, comprehensive goal would go well beyond its plans to repurpose a portion of City-owned land at 1 Hamilton Drive into workforce housing in collaboration with EAH Housing.

The Feb. 16th workshop at 6:30pm (REGISTER HERE) seeks to address the question: “What Housing and Land Use Strategies Should be Used to Plan for New Housing? City officials want residents to take this survey to share their thoughts on possible housing and land use strategies as part of the Housing Element Update process.

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