Multi-Family and Mixed-Use Objective Design and Development Standards

Multi-Family and Mixed-Use Objective Design and Development Standards

The City of Mill Valley is partnering with Marin County and nine other Marin County cities to create Objective Design and Development Standards (ODDS) that can be used by the City for the review and development of new multi-family housing projects. This Countywide planning effort is being funded by State planning grants to help cities streamline the approval of new housing units by creating “objective” (as opposed to subjective) design and development standards.  The application and use of ODDS are becoming increasingly important based on new State housing laws that limit local control and discretion over housing projects.

Berkeley-based Opticos Design, Inc. is leading this planning effort, in coordination with the County and cities. The ODDS public information campaign and planning process is commencing in March 2020.

We anticipate that the ODDS toolkit will build upon Mill Valley’s Multi-Family, Mixed Use and Downtown Residential Design Guidelines and Development Standards (adopted in 2016) by creating refined objective design standards that address local architectural elements, building patterns, and neighborhood context.

Future updates specific to Mill Valley will be posted on this web page. A link to the County’s ODDS webpage is also provided below.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Due to health concerns, the March 2020 community meetings have been cancelled. 

Coming soon - online survey.

Meetings & Events

This spring and summer, the planning team will hold several meetings with community stakeholders including public workshops with the Planning Commission to solicit input from Mill Valley residents. Following this initial input from the community, the planning team will develop a draft ODDS “toolkit”. The anticipated ODDS suite of tools for consideration by the City may include design and development standards that range from amending current zoning standards, supplemental design standards, architectural standards, and updated review procedures that can be applied to the City’s existing multifamily residential and mixed-use zoning districts. The toolkit will include an array of development standards for the City to consider adopting as amendments to zoning ordinance.

Cancelled - Thursday, March 19, 2020, 7pm Workshop/Webinar


Tentative - May 26, 2020 - Community Meeting 

Coming soon - Online Survey - An online survey with several customized questions for Mill Valley residents will be distributed to collect feedback from the community. A link to the online survey will be added to this webpage once it is available. Residents are encouraged to participate.

Reference Materials

Status Update: February 25, 2020 Planning Commission Director’s Report

Existing Standards & Guidelines (adopted 2016): Mixed Use, Multi-Family and Downtown Residential Development Standards and Design Guidelines 

Project Website:

Q & A, Fast Facts

What are Objective Standards? Why Are we Doing This?

  • “Objective” standards are not based on subjective judgement and can be applied uniformly based on criteria.
  • Modifying local regulations ensures that the design and aesthetics of developments address topics such as architectural style while accommodating state legislation requirements.

Why is this a County-Wide Discussion?

  • Working collaboratively with the County and other Marin cities allows for a larger budget and for the sharing of expertise, data and information. This is an effective approach, particularly when the overall objective for each jurisdiction is the same--to ensure that multi-family and mixed-use development projects are well designed and context sensitive.
  • Once the toolkit of Objective Standards is developed, each community will have the ability to revise and tailor their local design guidelines and standards accordingly, through public hearings and zoning updates.

How can I get involved in the process?

  • As an initial step in the process, we would like to invite you to attend a Community Meeting to introduce the project and offer opportunities for early community feedback and input. An online county-wide survey will also be available after the community meetings are complete. Starting later this spring and summer, the City Planning Commission will hold community workshops to solicit input.
  • City Project Manager: City of Mill Valley ODDS contact: Steve Ross, Senior Planner

Other Links to Information on State laws related to Housing and ODDS

Housing Accountability Act (HAA)

SB 35
SB 330
SB 2

Legal Summaries