COWncil Round Up – April 8, 2008

April 18, 2008

The COWncil meeting on April 8th was a little shorter than some of the COWncil’s recent marathon sessions, got a little heated during the discussion of reducing the size of the Bicycle Committee, but ended with us all being best friends again with the San Mateo Community College District (a special meeting is scheduled on the 29th to seal the deal). As always, you can watch the meeting here on Mootube.

Mayor Romines wasn’t present for the meeting, and so Mayor Pro Tem Peter Mason chaired the meeting. During Communications, Anne Kasten of the ASRB urged the Town, despite the risk, as she said,”of sounding like a crackpot, to provide three garbage cans for the Caltrans park and ride lot. She came armed with photographs and pointed out that the lot is constantly filled with garbage from overflowing cans. She advocated that, since Caltrans doesn’t take care of it, Woodside should, as it is right at the gateway to our community. Town Manager Susan George made it clear that she doesn’t think it is the Town’s ‘issue’, but said that perhaps the Town could lobby Caltrans about it. COWncilmember Gordon asked for the issue to be agendized for a future meeting.

The next speaker asked for the COWncil’s support in lobbying the County to stop the excess traffic on the road leading into Huddart Park. This issue was previously raised during the last COWncil meeting discussion about the County’s plan for Huddart and Wundlerlich Park. .He stated that County employees have been increasingly using Greer Road to access Huddart Park, inconveniencing the 13 property owners on the very narrow and somewhat dangerous street, and increasing traffic greatly on what is otherwise a quiet rural road not designed for that level of traffic. The County maintains that the level of traffic has been consistent and essentially says there’s no problem. It was decided that Woodside would lobby the County on this issue – we’ll definitely be seeing more on this. The consent calendar was then passed with no objection.

The first item of new business passed with little fanfare, but is worthy of note. A property at 490 Moore Road will finally be able to hook up to a sewer system after years of getting the runaround. After a landslide on the property years ago, the septic system failed and ever since they’ve been trying to hook up to a sewer system, and been bounced around different government agencies – including the Woodside COWncil. Redwood City stepped up and offered to grant access to its sewer system. It’s good that these poor people will finally have a resolution to their unfortunate problem, but it’s ridiculous that it has taken this long and that Woodside was of so little help.

The next item on climate change was covered in a separate article that you can read here, and we again want to congratulate the Town for its wise choice in taking action on this important subject.

The petition to reduce the size of the Bicycle Committee from seven members to six generated a little bit of heat and exposed the strong feelings people in Woodside have for and against bicycles in our Town. This is supposed to be a seven member Committee; however, there are currently only four appointed members. Therefore all of the members need to make every meeting in order to have a quorum or they can’t conduct business.

This item was on the consent calendar during the last meeting and was pulled off at the urging of Mayor Pro Tem Mason. It was characterized by Susan George and supporters of the Committee on the COWncil as a simple administrative item, identical to ones passed many times before for other committees. However, Mayor Pro Tem Mason used the opportunity to review the Bicycle Committee as a whole. He said that the change would result in ‘an awful few’ people on the Committee. He pointed out that there was a lot of concern in the Town over bike issues and that he would like to see more work on these issues from the Committee – and not fewer members.

The Chair of the Bicycle Committee launched a spirited defense of his Committee, after a heated exchange with the head of the ASRB, (to hear this exchange please click here) . He spoke of all the work the Committee has done. He laid the blame for any ineffectiveness of the Committee squarely at the feet of the COWncil and Town for not pursuing the body of work that they had proposed. Additionally, Deborah Gordon spoke in defense of their work, and talked about the negative feelings in the Town for bicycle issues which that she has experienced as liaison to the Committee. Apparently it’s not a good idea in this Town to mention at parties that you’re involved in the Bicycle Committee! The Bicycle Committee Chair mentioned this as well, and said it was the reason why it was so hard to recruit members.

After a nearly fifty minute discussion that exposed some anger in the Town, the size of the Committee was indeed reduced, with Peter Mason backing down and getting a personal thank you from COWncilmember Boynton. The fault lines exposed by this seemingly innocuous issue clearly haven’t gone away, however.

The second reading of the ordinances regarding Barkley Fields (see our last COWncil Roundup for more details) passed without incident, and the ordinances were approved.

Finally, there was a report back from the ad hoc COWncil subgroup dealing with the housing development at Cañada College. This issue, which we’ve covered extensively (see our earlier articles here and here), and which at one point looked like it was going to get very ugly, has apparently been resolved. If you watch the video, it all seems very lovey-dovey – a big change from when the District’s representative said Woodside was holding the project hostage. It turns out Woodside did them a big favor by holding the project up or so it sounds from comment from the District that the consensus is that they ended up with a better project. With some changes in color, the roofline, and siting on the property, the project is much less obtrusive. The neighboring housing development at Woodhill Estates is satisfied as well.

While it seems like a bit of a tempest in a teapot now, it looks like our Town’s negotiators did a good job keeping everyone happy. To finish off the Town’s involvement, the COWncil will hold a special meeting on the 29th of April to vote final approvals so that the District can proceed on schedule with other government agencies.

The last few formalities of appointments to Town Boards passed quickly, with no problems. One last note – former Town Engineer Kent Dewell’s final day with the Town and going away party will be on May 15th. We wish him well.

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