Doing Business in Mill Valley

** New Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling/Composting

Doing Businesses in Commercial Space

Allowed and Permitted Uses

Confirm with landlord and/or Planning Department that your business is a permitted use. Note: “like for like” uses (e.g. a new retail business replacing existing retail) in commercial space less than 1,500 square feet typically does not require planning approval.  New use of space may require a conditional use permit and is based on the Mill Valley Municipal Code requirements for a Zoning District and parking ratios associated with types of use.  See Municipal Code Title 20 for permitted uses by Zoning District and Section 20.60.090 for parking ratios. Go to Marin Map to view the City's Zoning Districts.


Confirm with the City Planning Department to see if your physical alternations to the interior or exterior will require planning review or a building permit. 

  • Exterior paint color may require the city’s review.
  • Accessibility improvements may apply.
  • Many commercial properties are also within the FEMA floodplain, and require property owners to document the amount of improvements made to a property. For more information about construction in a floodplain or floodway, click here. To confirm if your commercial property is in the floodplain, go to Marin Map services.


Most new exterior signage requires a permit through the City Planning Department

Please note: Internally illuminated signs are not allowed in the Lytton Square/Town Center area and the portion of the East Blithedale/Alto Center area east of Lomita Drive. Neon signs and A-frame or “sandwich board” signs are also prohibited.  Temporary signs are allowed for a period of 4 weeks per calendar year and shall not exceed a total of 12 square feet in size nor obscure more than 15 percent of an individual window, whichever is less.

Licenses to Operate

A business license is required for all businesses in Mill Valley. To learn more about Business Licenses click here.

Outdoor Display and Dining

 Requires a permit processed through the Planning Department.

 Businesses in Homes

Licenses to Operate and Permitted Businesses at Home

Home Occupation Permit is required if a business is conducted in a residence, processed through business licenses

Businesses Operating under Fictitious Names

If you are planning to operate a business under a name other than your own, file a “fictitious business name” with the County Clerk

 Special Events  

Events that exceed the scope of the business and/or typical hours of operation require a special event permit issued by the Mill Valley Police Department.

Product Bans/Prohibition

Green Business Program

Marin County Sustainability Program

Zero Waste Initiative/Waste Management

Additional Resources

Enjoy Mill Valley - Business Support and News

Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce

Mill Valley Arts Commission

Marin County: Business Directories, List of Associations

Marin County: Environmental Health & Safety

Emergency Preparedness for Businesses