Parking lot on Mill Street OK’d by Grass Valley Council |

Parking lot on Mill Street OK’d by Grass Valley Council

Grass Valley approves Mill St. parking lot


A planned parking lot on Mill Street will go forward, after the Grass Valley Council rejected an appeal attempting to stop its development.

The planned lot is at 309 Mill St., the former site of an historic sawmill which became a brewery, ice house and most recently an apartment house that caught fire and was then demolished in 2009.

The council denied the appeal in a 4-to-1 vote, with Council member Tom Ivey opposing.

Ivy said he was concerned it was too far away from downtown to be useful for shoppers and workers. Also, since the demise of the former apartment complex, “We’re taking away from housing,” Ivy said.

Council member Hillary Hodge also expressed concern about more housing.

“But we need more opportunity for more parking, and need a motive for people to come downtown,” she said.

The city of Grass Valley purchased the site in 2018, with discussions about turning it into parking, said Lance Lowe, principal planner. The lot will accommodate 32 parking spaces, and have upper and lower levels.

Two spaces are designated for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, while four spaces are designated for compact cars. Internal circulation will consist of switchbacks traversing the site from east to west. And an ADA-compliant sidewalk will be installed along the perimeter of the upper lot allowing for safe pedestrian access to the lower lot.


At the beginning of June the Planning Commission approved the project, with two conditions. The first was to add landscaping along property fronting Mill Street, similar to the public parking lot on South Auburn Street. The second was to allow overnight parking, giving residents on the block a chance to take advantage of it.

On June 29, attorney Marsha Burch filed an appeal on behalf of her client, Malou Thompson.

Burch raised several objections, including that the project was inconsistent with the city’s general plan. Also, the project approved by the commission would violate her client’s property rights. Additionally, it didn’t qualify for an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act

Lowe in his presentation said city staff believed CEQA exemptions were appropriate.

Additionally, Lowe said the lot is consistent with the general plan. It encourages a reduction in miles driven, congestion, environmental impacts and promotes infill development, which is the process of developing vacant lots within existing urban areas.

Lowe noted that the council will still need to decide whether to limit the time to 11 p.m. when motorists can park and provide resident permit stickers. But he explained it will be a well thought out process that has no current timeline.

“We will add downtown parking, infill and preserve a historic site,” said Lowe.

William Roller is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at

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