Planning and Building Update (April 1, 2020)

Updated April 1, 2020

COVID-19 Prioritization and Protocols for

City of Mill Valley Planning & Building Department


UPDATED APRIL 1, 2020 5:00 P.M.

On March 31, 2020, the Marin County Health Officer issued a new Shelter in Place Order (“Order”) that extends the shelter in place mandate through May 3, 2020 and further clarifies "essential" business and community activities.

In terms of construction, the March 31, 2020 Order only allows construction to occur for:

  1. Projects immediately necessary to the maintenance, operation or repair of Essential Infrastructure;
  2. Projects associated with Healthcare Operations, including creating or expanding Healthcare operations, provided that such construction is directly related to the COVID-19 response;
  3. Affordable housing that is or will be income-restricted, including multi-unit or mixed-use development containing at least 10% income-restricted units;
  4. Public Works projects if specifically designated as an Essential Governmental Function by the lead governmental agency;
  5. Shelters and temporary housing; but not including hotels or motels;
  6. Projects immediately necessary to provide critical non-commercial services to individuals experiencing homelessness, elderly persons, persons who are economically disadvantaged, and persons with special needs;
  7. Construction necessary to ensure that existing construction sites that must be shut down under this Order are left in a safe and secure manner, but only to the extent necessary to do so; and
  8. Construction or repair necessary to ensure that residences and buildings containing Essential Businesses are safe, sanitary, or habitable to the extent such construction or repair cannot reasonably be delayed.

Active Applications and Permitted Construction Projects. Projects that are currently in process with the Planning and Building Departments will continue to be processed and reviewed, as resources are available. Please note while applications may be reviewed, there will be a delay in the final approval of projects. Building inspections are now limited to emergency permits (for health and safety reasons) and to safely secure and shut down larger construction-related projects. Building inspections will also be “virtual”, when possible. 

Other Home Improvement Projects. Pursuant to the Order, home improvement projects that do not require a permit, such as landscaping and painting projects involving hired workers are not deemed as "essential" and are NOT permitted during this public health emergency. See the County's Frequently Asked Questions for more information on what types of activities are permitted.  

Other Permitted Work Considered “Essential”:

  • Projects necessary to the maintenance, operation or repair of essential infrastructure.
  • Other services or work necessary to operate or maintain “essential infrastructure” including utilities (water, sewer, gas and electrical), roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste facilities, mortuaries and telecommunications systems.
  • All first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatches, law enforcement personnel, and others who need to perform essential services.

For More Information. See additional information below summarizing current services for the Department: 


Planning Division


Existing Applications: Planning staff will continue to process existing applications, as resources allow.  Priority for action will be for projects that qualify as “Essential" under the Order. Action will be taken on other projects on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Director of Planning and Building and based on the staffing capacity and the City’s ability to conduct virtual meetings for projects that require public hearings.


New Applications:  New planning applications will only be accepted for projects that qualify as "essential", such as those projects that create new housing units. Applications will only be accepted by mail or e-mail. For Planning application materials, submittal requirements, and supporting documentation, please refer to the Planning Division web page.   Contact the Planning Division at, (415) 388-4033 if you have any questions regarding the Planning applications.   


Building Division


Building Inspections will be provided only for essential construction activities consistent with the March 31 Order, see numbers 1-8 above. Inspectors will not be permitted to conduct inspections if they cannot comply with social distancing requirements and other health and safety protocols as stipulated in the Order. The Building Official has authorized building inspectors to make such determinations at their sole discretion.

Residential Building Reports will be suspended during the local emergency. 


Existing Plan Check Submittals will continue to resume, with new procedures for accepting all re-submittals via email, mail or FTP site. For questions regarding plan check procedures or status of plan check submittals, contact Athena Langdon, Permit Services Coordinator at: or (415) 384-4815.


New Building Permit Applications will be only accepted for projects that qualify as “Essential” as defined in the revised Order. Life, safety, sanitation, emergency and/or essential operation will be accepted and prioritized. Other applications will be accepted on a case-by-case basis as determined by the Planning and Building Director.  For Building Permit application materials, submittal requirements and supporting documentation, please refer to the Building Division web page.  To initiate the process, complete the permit application and supporting documentation and e-mail to Athena Langdon, Permit Services Coordinator at    For questions regarding building permit application submittals, contact Athena Langdon, Permit Services Coordinator at: or (415) 384-4815.


Building Permit Issuance

Permit issuance services (electronic only) will be issued on a limited basis based on those construction activities that qualify as “essential" (see numbers 1-8 above). 


Fire Inspections Related to Building Permits

Please click here for information regarding Fire Inspections.


Code Enforcement:


Code Enforcement staff will continue to work on current cases on a priority basis (with life/safety issues being a top priority). If a field inspection is required, the Code Enforcement Officer will implement new protocols to ensure that health and safety practices are followed and if applicable an initial screening conducted over the phone prior to scheduling the inspection. Use our website if you have questions about a code enforcement case or would like to report a violation.


Public Inquiries

When needed, schedule a phone or online appointment.  Out of an abundance of caution, no in-person meetings will be conducted at the present time to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Stay Informed

Please note that local requirements continue to change, so please check the City’s website and Planning and Building page for updates.