Mill Valley Historic Context Statement & Historic Resource Inventory Survey Report

Planning Commission  Public Hearing on the
Draft Historic Resources Inventory (HRI) Survey Report
January 26, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Meeting Notice & How to Attend


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. To implement these policies, 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.

In 2017, 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 survey and update the City’s only working documents on historic resources that include 174 properties: 1) the “Partial List of Historic Structures”, compiled by members of the Mill Valley Historical Society (MVHS), and 2) the Historic-Overlay Zoning District, adopted in 1980. From these lists, Page & Turnbull prepared a Historic Resources Inventory Survey Report (HRI).

Historic Context Statement (HCS)

Briefly, an HCS is a document that summarizes the community’s history, specifically related to its physical development and identifies significant themes, patterns, trends, and property types. The HCS provides a framework for identification, evaluation, and treatment of historic resources.

Historic Context Statement 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 was an important tool 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.

History Resources Inventory/Survey report (HRI)

In 2018, Page & Turnbull conducted a reconnaissance level survey of the City’s “Partial List of Historic Structures” and the Historic Overlay (H-O) Zoning District properties, identified by members of the MVHS as having potential historic resource value. These 174 properties located within the incorporated boundaries of the City of Mill Valley were surveyed by Page & Turnbull’s team of architectural historians. The surveyed properties encompass 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 properties in the survey are 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.

Frequently Asked Questions: This list hopefully responds to questions you may have about the HCS and HRI documents and how they benefit and affect Mill Valley.

Steps in the Process

Community Meeting #3, held on November 9, 2020 focused on the Draft Historic Resource Inventory Survey Report (HRI)

Community Meeting #3 - Webinar Video
Community Meeting #3 - Presentation

The community was invited to learn about the Draft HRI at a Virtual Community Meeting hosted by City staff and consultants on November 9, 2020. Mill Valley residents, civic organizations, and design and real estate professionals, and decision makers were invited to attend the virtual meeting. After the presentation, attendees provided comments and questions that were answered by staff and consultants.

Following the meeting, written comments were received and incorporated into a January 2021 revised Draft HRI that will be presented to the Planning Commission at the January 26, 2021 public hearing. The Planning Commission will make a recommendation to City Council on the Draft HRI for final action. The City Council will consider the Draft HCS and HRI at a public hearing in March 2021. Public notice will be provided in advance of this hearing.

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. Following the workshop, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on June 26, 2018. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the Draft HCS and recommended that it be approved by City Council.

Community Workshop #1, help on September 20, 2017

The first Community Workshop was held in the Creekside Room of the Library to discuss the Historic Reservation Work Program to prepare the HCS and HRI. MVHS, Outdoor Art Club (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 and informed their research focus to prepare the HCS.

Managing the Process

City staff formed the 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 and Patrick Kelly, Director of Planning and Building. Historic research was conducted by Page and Turnbull staff: Ruth Todd, Principal, Christina Dikas, Project Manager/ Associate Principal, and Hannah Simonsen, Architectural Historian.