Plan Your Project

Understanding What's Allowed

Permits are required in Mill Valley to perform construction activities and operate businesses. Depending upon the scope of your project, you may need to obtain permits and/or approval from several City departments. The Planning Department is here to help guide you through this process.

Before you begin a project, it is important to know the Zoning Classification (PDF) of the property and your proposed scope of work to determine if your proposed project is allowed. If the zoning map is unclear, use the MarinMap website that provides your zoning district by address.

It is recommended to visit or call Planning Staff at City Hall early in the process.

Please Note: The Planning Department is closed to the public every Friday.

Design Review Thresholds

Once you have determined that your project is allowed, you may find you require Planning Approval prior to proceeding with your Building Permit. Design Review and approval by the Planning Department is generally required for the following projects:

  • All new accessory structures over 150 square feet
  • All new homes
  • Any addition, extension, exterior changes of a house fronting East Blithedale, or in an RP or RSP Zoning District, or when required as a condition of approval
  • Commercial signage
  • Demolition of 50% or more of the exterior surface area of the dwelling (including walls, door and window openings, foundation walls, and roofs)
  • New commercial use
  • Residential additions exceeding 35% of existing floor area or 1,000 square feet.

Planning Application

Should your project require Planning Approval, speak with Planning Staff to determine the various approvals that may be needed for your project, such as variances, design review, conditional use, and/or environmental review.

After you have completed the application requirements, submit your project to the Planning Department to evaluate the completeness of the application prior to a public hearing. Upon submittal, there is an initial 30 day review period to determine if your application is complete.

Once your application is deemed complete, it will be scheduled for formal review and approval. The hearing body is determined by the scope of your project. Generally, the following process applies:

  • City Council: Tentative maps
  • Planning Commission: New homes and major additions, conditional use, and variances
  • Staff Review: Signage, fence permits, and second units, nonheritage tree removals
  • Zoning Administrator: Minor additions, conditional use amendments, and heritage tree removals

Prior to the scheduled hearing, project plans, staff reports, and other materials are available to the public. Properties within 300 feet are typically provided written notice about the proposed project and hearing date(s).

There is a 10-day appeal period for any City approval. If no appeals are filed within the appeal period, you may proceed to the Building Department for a permit. Project approvals expire one year from the date of approval and can be granted two one-year extensions. Contact the Planning Department for further details.

Building Permits

The Building Division provides plan checks to review construction-related drawings and supporting studies.

The Plan Check process involves continuous coordination with the applicant to satisfy building code requirements. Once the Plan Check process is finalized, a building permit will be issued for a project.

Note: Any project with Planning Approval must substantially conform to the approved plans. Substantive modifications to the plans or scope of work may result in additional design review and/or planning approvals.

Construction & Inspections

The Building Division does plan inspections to ensure that your project meets the specifications established in your approved plans based on the California Building Code.

A project must be granted a building permit prior to any demolition or construction.

A project is not deemed complete until it has undergone final inspection.

Please Note: A special inspection is required for any home that is being sold within the City of Mill Valley.