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

The City of Mill Valley has partnered with Marin County and nine other Marin County cities to create Objective Design and Development Standards (ODDS) that can be tailored by each local jurisdiction to meet their needs. This Countywide planning effort is being funded by State planning grants to help cities streamline the approval of new housing.  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, leading this planning effort, in coordination with the County and cities. 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. A link to the County’s ODDS webpage is also provided below.


In September 2023, City Council passed a resolution to accepting the ODDS Toolkit.  City Staff will continue to utilize this toolkit to modify various regulatory requirements into objective standards.   

Reference Materials

Toolkit (PDF)

Project Website: 

Marin County Planning Long Range Planning Initiatives Objective-Design and Development Standards

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

SB 330 Limits Local Laws Over Housing Developments