Amidst multiple construction projects, major events around town and much more, City of Mill Valley staff, commissioners and councilmembers continue to do the much-needed work of maintaining momentum on efforts to both plan for massive amounts of new housing mandates between now and 2031, and to see through their intentions to build affordable housing at 1 Hamilton Drive project with EAH Housing on city-owned land.

On May 18, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a revised housing element for submission to the state, including a certified environmental impact report for the general plan and amendments to the general plan land use element and land use map. To comply with the state housing mandate, the city must permit 865 more residences during the next eight-year planning cycle.

The mandate calls for 262 residences for very-low-income households, 151 for low-income households, 126 for moderate-income households and 326 for above-moderate-income households, while city officials are planning for 961 dwellings, including 287 for very-low-income households, 183 for low-income, 149 for moderate-income and 342 for above-moderate.

In addition to the aforementioned 1 Hamilton plan, the housing element identifies 401 Miller Ave., the complex that’s home to Sol Food and Simple Mills, as well as the large property on East Blithedale Ave. owned by Comcast building. City officials added that property owners interested in the redevelopment include Mill Creek Plaza, Sloat Garden Center, the former Jolly King Liquor store site and the former KFC/Taco Bell building. The city also plans on 16 residences developed under SB 9, a state housing law that allows property owners to split lots for up to four dwellings, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

As for 1 Hamilton, the Mill Valley Planning Commission held a study session – a chance for all stakeholders to have their say without a definitive final vote attached to the process – and focused on some concerns about the overall design of the project. That process will continue in the coming weeks.

1 Hamilton has faced consistent opposition from residents in the Enchanted Knolls neighborhood and adjacent areas, but 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.

City officials have made it clear that they are 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.

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