Over the course of 90 minutes Thursday morning, Mill Valley Mayor Ken Wachtel, City Manager Jim McCann and City of Mill Valley officials took Mill Valley business owners on a wide-ranging trip through the State of the City.
The verdict: with a thriving economy and thus a construction boom and ever-congested streets, Mill Valley is bustling, and City Hall is a hive of activity.
“It has been an extremely interesting, very active year for us so far,” Wachtel said.
Here’s a brief summary of the topics covered, with links for more info:
“The data reinforces what many people understand to be the nature of our traffic and will help us to focus on our options – and there are options to consider,” McCann said. “It’s all of our problem to fix this.”
Go here for a full report on the task force’s first meeting and go here for regular updates on the task force.
In adopting the 2014-16 budget, the Council set aside additional money for road repairs, and that bore out this year with the complete repaving of the hillside section of Camino Alto and the entirety of Molino Ave., as well as eight other streets and another 18 roads that were resurfaced.
Municipal Services Tax
Miller Avenue Streetscape Project
The $14.2 million project is far and away the biggest road renovation the City has undertaken in decades: an overhaul of approximately two miles of Miller Avenue, one of Mill Valley’s two main arteries. The project stretches from Almonte Boulevard near Tamalpais High all the way to Sunnyside Avenue near downtown.
Given's the Mill Valley Chamber’s focus on minimizing the impact on businesses in the area in terms of parking and access, the Chamber and City hosted a meeting for Miller Ave. businesses in August. “It is a great concern to the City that we disrupt business as little as possible, recognizing that there will be some disruption,” Wachtel said.
This fall, utility companies such as PG&E, Marin Municipal Water District, AT&T and Comcast will conduct underground work on the road in advance of the City’s work early next year. Scheduling those utilities first will allow the City’s contractor – the project will go out to bid later this year – to move more nimbly without multiple agencies to coordinate, City officials said.
This change is intended to make the downtown parking system friendlier to its diverse array of user groups, such as residents doing some quick grocery shopping, banking or other downtown errands. The City also hopes to extend the time limit on the metered parking spaces in the parking lot on the first block of Miller Avenue, where Piazza D’Angelo and Wells Fargo are located, for instance, from two to four hours, but has met some technological hurdles in doing so to date.
Planning & Building
Smith said his department tries to get commercial permit requests on the Planning Commission’s agenda “as quickly as possible,” particularly given the bevy of residential permit applications they receive. He also said the department sought to accommodate commercial applicants when possible, citing a recent example in which his department gave a new business approval to do interior improvements to a new space downtown while the applicant sought City approval for exterior changes.
Several business owners indicated that the City could do more to make it easier for permit applicants to contact the right person during the process, and McCann urged business owners to reach out to the Chamber to assist with those efforts.
Development Standards and Design Guidelines
“The goal of this is to give some predictability to what these projects should look like and what is possible,” Wachtel said.
Smith added that while updates to the Commercial Zoning regulations are on the to-do list, that effort will likely take place in 2016.