Current Uses

Site Setting

The site is located north of the Golden Gate Bridge at 201 Seminary Drive, Mill Valley, in the Strawberry neighborhood of unincorporated Marin County, California.  The property is adjacent to the major transit corridor of U.S. Highway 101 and the Seminary Drive exit.  It encompasses 123.35 acres and is bordered by Ricardo Road to the north, Seminary Drive to the south and west, and East Strawberry Drive to the east.  The two primary access points are along Seminary Drive at Hodges Drive and Gilbert Drive.  Secondary access points are from Mission, East Strawberry, Chapel Drive and Reed Boulevard.

The current circulation plan consists of private streets that extend from a central, tiered parking lot.  The buildings within the academic campus are clustered on the upper portion of the site with views of southern Marin, Richardson Bay and San Francisco.  A recreational playing field is located at the lowest point on the site, adjacent to Seminary Drive.  Much of the residential housing is situated in the northerly portion of the site, separated from the academic campus.  The internal alignment of private streets separated from the residential streets serving the surrounding neighborhood was discussed extensively during the 1953 approval process.

The Seminary Today

Most of the buildings on site were constructed 60 years ago.  The most recent addition was constructed 38 years ago.  The campus is occupied by Olivet University and the housing is rented to the public in accordance to current housing laws.  The site is available for use by the public and is frequented by neighbors and the community. Local youth athletic leagues utilize the playing field on a regular basis.  The combined uses are substantially similar to use over the past 60 plus years.

Surrounding Neighborhood

The surrounding properties are predominantly residential and range from condominiums, multi-family rental to large, single-family homes.  To the east along East Strawberry Drive and to the north along Reed Boulevard and Ricardo Road, single-family homes line residential streets.  These homes are typically between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet with attached garages and short driveways.  Cars typically park along both sides of the streets.  Larger single-family homes are located to the south and southwest of the campus.  These homes typically exceed 5,000 square feet and have views of Richardson Bay and San Francisco.  Homes along Chapel Drive and Willis Drive were once part of the Seminary campus.  Higher density apartment complexes are located along Seminary Drive, including Strawberry Shores, which is a 202-unit, 17.7 units per acre apartment development, and Harbor Point Apartments, which is a 220-unit, 15.7 unit per acre apartment development.

Current Site Uses

Following the expiration of the 1984 Master Plan in December 2017, the site reverted to its base zoning of RMP 2.47 with a 1953 Conditional Use Permit allowing for the academic use.  The Marin Countywide Plan designation for the site is MF2 (1-4 units/acre).  Expiration of the 1984 Master Plan decoupled the residential component from the academic use, allowing housing and the academic use to operate independently as confirmed by the Marin County Code Enforcement letter dated May 14, 2019:

 

“The zoning for the property is Residential, Multiple Family Planned (RMP), with various uses designated as principally permitted, conditionally permitted, or prohibited.  Renting onsite housing to the general public is a principally permitted use under the RMP zoning.  Because the 1984 Master Plan has expired, there is no longer a restriction of renting the housing specifically for the purpose of providing housing for the students, staff and faculty of the Seminary.”

 

The RMP zoning allows for a base density of 2.47 units per acre, which translates to 249 residential units allowed on the site.  The State Density Bonus allows for a maximum of 546 units.

Under the Marin County Planning Code 22.130.030, residences within a licensed senior care facility that provides meal service at least twice a day are not counted as separate residential units, hence the Residential Care Facility is counted as one unit.

The 1953 Conditional Use Permit that governs the academic campus broadly allows for a college/university campus with a maximum student population of approximately 1,000 students.  The campus is currently occupied by Olivet University, a tenant that complies with the provisions of the CUP.

Residential Area

The Residential Area currently consists of 142 market-rate studios, one, two, and three-bedroom units of varying sizes, as well as three single-family homes and two dorm buildings containing 66 fully occupied dorm units sharing seven kitchens.  The units are occupied predominately by the general public.  Some students, faculty, staff, and their families affiliated with the current academic user also live on-site.

The Residential Area contains outdoor playgrounds and basketball courts.  Paved surface parking lots are adjacent to most of the residential housing.  The current physical condition of the housing is poor.

Academic Campus

The academic campus consists of five buildings totaling approximately 120,600 square feet.  

Existing facilities include:

  • A 51,200-sf academic building – consisting of two floors of classrooms, gathering spaces, bookstore and faculty offices;
  • A 25,200-sf administration building – consisting of administrative and faculty offices, classrooms and a recently renovated business office;
  • A 10,000-sf cafeteria – consisting of two stories with a full kitchen, prep kitchen, administrative offices and seating for 200+;
  • A 32,000-sf library – consisting of two levels of stacks, open study space, administrative offices, classrooms, and meeting rooms; and
  • A 2,200-sf maintenance building.

The campus is currently occupied by a university that complies with the existing conditional use permit and includes a growing enrollment of students.  The university has leased the campus through 2021 and intends to increase its enrollment throughout the term.  Most students and their families live off-site and commute daily to and from the site.

Other Uses and Improvements

The site also includes:

  • A large recreational playing field along Seminary Drive that is used by a multitude of adult and youth sports leagues from Marin County;
  • Approximately 297 parking spaces are associated with the academic campus;
  • Approximately 311 parking spaces adjacent to the residential areas;
  • The university that occupies the campus utilizes the buildings for conferences and large gatherings by a variety of community groups and religious organizations such as the Hospice by the Bay, Greenheart International, Veteran's Path, The Foundation for Reed Schools, Habitat for Humanity, and Gilead House;
  • Outdoor space is occasionally used for fundraising and other community benefit-oriented uses;
  • A daycare occupies a portion of the academic buildings that serves families from the southern Marin community.