The project is located at 542-548 Miller Avenue on 1.58 hillside acres behind and above the Mill Valley Pet Clinic. It includes six detached homes, three homes with an attached second unit and four units divided into two townhouse buildings, with four units designated as affordable (three are slated for low income and one is for moderate income).
The project began this week with the removal of a number of dead and diseased trees. For each tree removed from the site approximately three replacement trees will be planted, according to City officials, and permits have been issued for the tree removals.
Once the trees are removed, the site will undergo extensive work to get it ready for construction, including the creation of a U-shaped driveway and extensive utility work, according to Michael Rex of Michael Rex Architects, which designed the project. He said construction of the homes will likely begin in the summer, though additional permits are required before they begin that portion of the work.
The property was previously owned by Joel Coopersmith, who spearheaded the development application through more than a half-dozen public hearings before its eventual approval by the Planning Commission in January 2010 and by the City Council in March 2010.
In 2013, a fire in an abandoned house on the property was deemed “suspicious in nature" because it was an abandoned building with no electricity. Law enforcement officials noted at the time that the house had been widely known as a regular hangout for high school kids, and Mill Valley Police Chief Angel Bernal said officers were called there at least twice in recent years on reports of kids smoking marijuana at the house.
Coopersmith sold the property in 2014 to Willis + Co., a San Francisco-based firm that specializes in “thoughtfully designed, carefully built residential projects in desirable and often challenging San Francisco locations.” The firm is expected to submit project permit drawings to the City to begin site work for the approved project later this spring.
The trees permitted for removal this week are either diseased, dead, in danger of falling over, or interfering with the siting of the new homes, City officials said. All of the trees slated for removal (except one) are more than 100 feet from Miller Avenue and are accessible by way of a private driveway. Because of that, City officials anticipate no impacts on traffic.
Willis + Co. has also applied for an emergency tree removal permit for two additional trees: one Monterey pine with pitch canker disease near the center of the site and a bay tree that is at risk of falling over near the western property line. The City is holding a public hearing on the emergency tree removal permit in City Council Chambers on March 18 at 5:30pm.