Update Nov. 2022: 1 Hamilton Scoping Meeting Rescheduled to January 12, 2023 to Collect Input on Environmental Review – City planners will host a scoping meeting to collect community feedback and answer questions about the scope of the 1 Hamilton affordable housing project and the content of the Draft Environmental Impact Report that will be produced as part of the development review application. The meeting has been rescheduled from December 8 to January 12, 2023 and will take place at 6:30pm at City Hall

From the moment the 1 Hamilton Drive affordable housing was first introduced as a possibility, the tenor of the conversation from the development’s likely neighbors – and rightfully so – was the impact it would have on the Enchanted Knolls area and its surrounding neighborhoods in terms of parking, traffic and much more.

Neighbors of Phil Richardson’s project at 575 East Blithedale have expressed similar concerns about localized impacts and residents’ desire to see housing be constructed elsewhere.

But as the Mill Valley City Council and Planning Commissioners wrapped its joint session about 1 Hamilton Thursday night, Vice Mayor Urban Carmel sought to provide some broader, long-term context.

Vice Mayor Urban Carmel urged attendees to “view this project in the broader context. For a long time, Mill Valley has made absolutely no affordable housing – for the past three decades, and just three developments (Shelter Hill, Alto Station and Pickleweed Apartments) over the past five decades. That’s just not enough.”

Carmel mentioned Edgewood Reservoir as a possible next location for affordable housing. “You will see a lot of development taking place (in all parts) of Mill Valley.” 

In working through next steps for 1 Hamilton, councilmembers, supported by a stalwart group of commissioners, ultimately had a clear, brief to-do list in front of them: Assemble the development package and their preferred design concept among those previously proposed and move on to the next phase. The most significant takeaway from the deliberations was the council’s decision to move forward with a T-shaped project design, one that reflects an evolution from several prior iterations (see rendering above). That building would be approximately 60,600 square feet.

They did so unanimously.

Through the course of the four-hour hearing, council members, commissioners and residents dug deeply into a proposal that will shape Mill Valley for decades to come. Here are just a few of those takeaways:

  • Circulation: The new design provides for a modification of the parking lot around the Public Safety Building, possibly allowing for a natural U-turn instead of the clunky U-turns that occur now.
  • Visitor parking would be shared with public parking on the east side of Hamilton, likely with a time restriction to spur turnover. There would likely be +-65 parking spaces on the project site.
  • There will be new security gates around emergency service areas.
  • The property will be between 1.6-1.9 acres depending on where the property lines ends up.
  • Parking +/-65 parking spaces
  • The mass of the buildings are all lower than the silhouette of the hill between Hauke South and Hauke North.
  • The project team has worked through a few iterations of the building – – and the councilmembers and commissioners agreed to move forward with the T-shaped building of approximately 60,600 square feet that was revised earlier this month. Williams said it presents a “smaller footprint that breaks up the mass, reduced grading and offhaul and overall costs, as well as efficient building design, efficient interior space and resident serving space.” 
  • Rick Williams of Van Meter Williams Pollack Architecture, told the council that the number of units – approximately 45 – does not maximize the site out.
  • EAH officials emphasized multiple times the need to make the 1 Hamilton development competitive enough to garner multiple funding sources.
  • Despite strong feelings on both sides of the debate, city officials and the project team are leaning toward relocating the restrooms etc. to closer to the fire station as opposed to moving them to the west side of Hamilton Drive because of the site limitations on Hauke North, despite the safety concerns related to kids crossing the street. “You had me at not crossing the street,” Enchanted Knolls resident Karen Jaber said during public comment. “I know it would cost a little more to put plumbing on the other side of the street but I think it would benefit the community.”
  • The charging station will also likely be relocated. The project team hopes to have an entitled project in the calendar year 2023 if not sooner.
  • The project will seek to maximize the solar array on the roofs of the buildings.
  • The project team seeks to have a public drafts of the Environmental Impact Report in the spring, a final EIR in the summer and hopes to have an entitled project in the calendar year 2023 if not sooner.
  • Some residents expressed interest in leveraging technology that would provide a more transparent sense of the size of the proposed development in lieu of story poles, which appear to be too complex at that scale of a 45-foot tall building.

“The headline here is that there is virtually no affordable housing in Mill Valley,” Carmel reiterated. “The headline is not that all of the affordable housing in town is in one neighborhood.”


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