Draft Affordable Housing Ordinance to Planning Commission - August 23, 2016

The Mill Valley City Council has the adopted Core Value of the preservation of a vibrant community that respects Mill Valley’s small town character, and the preservation of the community’s high quality of life. The City Council has identified the Key Issue of residential and commercial development with emphasis on affordable housing for workforce, elderly, and low-income residents at a scale and density consistent with Mill Valley's character. The Mill Valley General Plan MV2040, has also identified the goals of protecting the City’s unique small town character and encouraging the continued diversity of housing and income levels. 

In recent years, the City of Mill Valley has taken a leadership role in encouraging the continued diversity of housing by supporting the development of second units on larger lots, and requiring the construction of affordable units as part of any development project with four or more units. 

However, we recognize that there is more to be done. Mill Valley community members, like many in the Bay Area, frequently express concern about the significant trend in rising rents and home prices. Community members have experienced the displacement of residents that can no longer afford to pay housing prices such as seniors on a fixed income. We have heard residents refer to themselves as “house poor”-  meaning that they pay more than 1/3 of their household income toward housing costs which, in turn, can create a shortage in discretionary income to pay for other important items such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. Based on the US Census data, 37% of Mill Valley renters and 43% of Mill Valley homeowners fall into this category. 

According to Zillow and Trulia, in May 2016, the average rent for a 3 bedroom home was approximately $5,000 a month and the median home price was $1.4 million, creating a monthly mortgage payment of $6,000-$9,000 (depending on financing). These housing prices are outpacing what the average Mill Valley resident can afford, with the annual median income of a family of four in Mill Valley at $101,090 (approximately $8,424 per month before taxes), according to the US Census.  High housing costs affect lower income renters, first-time homebuyers, and also limit the housing opportunities for local workers such as teachers, fire fighters, and retail service providers. According to the US Census, the average monthly income for: an elementary teacher is $3,024; a retail salesperson is $2,750 and a paramedic is $4,667 (before taxes). 

On August 23, 2016, City Planners will present a draft Affordable Housing Ordinance to continue the City’s work to enhance the affordability of housing in Mill Valley so that modest income households can join and remain an integral part of the Mill Valley community. This ordinance is a comprehensive update to the housing regulations contained in Mill Valley Municipal Code Section 20.80, and includes the establishment of a local affordable housing fund, an affordable housing impact fee, and requirements for new developments with four or more new units. 

Please click here for the Staff Report and Attachments (go to item 4 on the agenda)

Watch the video and read the meeting minutes.