City Readies Two Fire Access Improvement Projects for Summer 2015

This June, the City of Mill Valley is planning to make changes at two narrow intersections to improve access for fire trucks and emergency vehicles. City engineers seek community input on the plans and will conduct neighborhood meetings in upcoming weeks.

The planned improvements will occur at the intersections of Hazel and Marion Avenues and Marion and Monte Vista Avenues. Currently, these intersections require fire trucks to make a multi-point turn to proceed through them, thus slowing response time and jeopardizing the protection of life and property in the event of a medical emergency or a fire. The projects could possibly involve the removal of a few heritage trees and the relocation of utility infrastructure to allow for the access improvement.

"These projects are a critical to improve response times on these narrow, hilly streets," Interim Fire Chief Tom Welch said. "We are taking great care in the project design to limit construction and site disruption while we take steps to improve community safety."

The City’s MV2040 General Plan, approved in 2013, identified the intersections of Hazel and Marion Avenues, and Marion and Monte Vista Avenues, as well as a number of other locations, as part of a program to expand and improve the network of anticipated emergency response routes. The City Council approved funding for fire access improvements in the 2014-2019 Capital Improvement Project Budget, with an allocation of $50,000 for FY 14/15 and $75,000 for FY15/16.

The City contracted with Harrison Engineering in 2013 to design the proposed improvements. The City invites residents to view the preliminary design (found here) in advance of neighborhood meetings where issues and options will be discussed.

For instance, the proposal for the intersection of Hazel and Marion Avenues includes the possibility of removing as few as two and as many as six redwood trees, based on design alternatives, as well as an option that doesn’t call for the removal of any trees but the relocation of a PG&E utility pole instead.

City officials held a neighborhood meeting on the projects in mid-February, and intend to host another meeting in the coming weeks.

The projects are expected to begin in late June following the end of the school year. The work on both intersections is projected to take 40 days to complete.

The City of Mill Valley’s fire access improvements are part of its Vegetation Management Program, which is entirely funded by the City’s Municipal Services Tax (MST). The $145 per parcel tax was first approved by voters in 1987 for 10 years, and was renewed in 1997 at $145 per parcel and 2006 at a maximum of $195 per parcel.

The MST generates $1.2 million in revenue annually, $300,000 of which pays for the Vegetation Management Program, while the remaining $900,000 funds street maintenance and road repair. This local funding tool will expire in June of 2018; the City Council will explore the best timing to present a renewal to the voters.

If you have any questions or would like to be placed on a mailing list for the upcoming public input meetings, please contact Associate Engineer Cecilia Zamora at