Mill Valley’s General Plan 2040 includes a variety of policies and programs aimed at protecting and enhancing the community’s character and its historic resources. In 2017, the City of Mill Valley embarked on a program to enrich community understanding of Mill Valley’s history, its important citizens, events, and places as they relate to the built environment of today.
The City Council authorized the Planning Department to hire Page and Turnbull, a San Francisco firm of Architectural Historians, Architects and Planners, to help develop a comprehensive report known as a Historic Context Statement (HCS) and also to re-survey and update the City’s only working documents on historic resources that includes 174 properties: 1) the “Partial List of Historic Structures”, that was compiled by members of the Mill Valley Historical Society (MVHS) in 1998, with additional properties provided in 2017, and 2) the Historic-Overlay Zoning District, adopted in 1980.
Briefly, an HCS is a document that summarizes the community’s history, specifically related to its physical development; identifying significant themes, patterns, trends, and property types. The HCS provides a framework for identification, evaluation, and treatment of historic resources.
Historic Context Statements are helpful to better understand historic resources, even in the absence of comprehensive knowledge about specific buildings, and to establish preservation goals and strategies. The HCS will be used to support and update the City’s inventory of historic properties and can provide the basis for future evaluation of properties, planning decisions, and development of preservation programs.
Steps in the Process
Community Workshop #1, held on September 20, 2017
The first of two planned Community Workshops was held in the Creekside Room of the Library to discuss preparation of the HCS and update the City’s “Partial List of Historic Structures”. MVHS, OAC and other community members attended the Workshop to learn about the process and provide input about the important themes that shaped Mill Valley’s history. A lively discussion followed the consultant’s presentation that is available for review below.
Public participation in the HCS was initiated with this Community Workshop, a creative process that will enrich our understanding of Mill Valley’s history, its important citizens, events and places as they relate to the built environment of today.
Community Workshop #2, June 26, 2018 – Draft Historic Context Statement
The Draft HCS was made available for public review and comment in June 2018 on the City’s website, at the Planning Department and at the Public Library. Comments on the Draft HCS are invited prior to and during the Planning Commission review of the document that is scheduled on June 26, 2018. Public comments can be made in writing to the Planning Department or via email to Lisa Newman, Senior Planner: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Workshop #2 will be conducted in an Open House format from 6:00 to 7:00 pm on June 26, 2018. The consultants, Page & Turnbull, will present an overview of the HCS and respond to public questions and comments. Following the Open House, the Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on the HCS. Their role is to comment on the Draft HCS and make a recommendation to the City Council, who will consider adoption of the Final HCS document at a public hearing to be scheduled in September 2018.
History Resource Inventory/Survey Update
The survey of the City’s “Partial List of Historic Structures”, H-O Historic Overlay District properties, and additional properties identified by the Mill Valley Historical Society members as having potential historic resource value, will be completed and available for public review and comment in July 2018. 174 properties located within the incorporated boundaries of the City of Mill Valley have been re-surveyed by Page & Turnbull’s team of architectural historians. The survey area encompasses representative examples of many of the early architectural styles and building types constructed in the City of Mill Valley, and that are defined in the HCS. The majority of the survey is represented by late nineteenth century to early twentieth century architectural styles, with approximately 160 buildings constructed prior to 1930. The purpose of the survey is to determine if listed properties retain historic integrity, as well as their ability to qualify for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources.
Managing the Process
City staff formed an Advisory Committee consisting of Eric Macris, President of the MVHS, Lauri Harper, MVHS member, Pam Keon, MVHS member, and Kevin Skiles, Planning Commission Chairman, to assist staff and the consultants.
City Staff involved in the project include: Lisa Newman, Senior Planner, serving as Project Manager to coordinate the work effort; Kari Svanstrom, Interim Director of Planning and Building, and Cate Mayfield, History Room Librarian to assist with Community outreach and support historic research conducted by Page and Turnbull.
Page and Turnbull staff include: Ruth Todd, Principal, and Christina Dikas, Project Manager, who have overseen the research and writing of the HCS and Survey Update effort.