December’s lone COWncil meeting featured a changing of the guard for the offices of Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, a nomination to the ASRB, and changes to Town code. You should moo-sy on over and take a look at the video of the Council meeting on our Mootube. This is a description of the interesting events at the December 11th meeting. (Click here for all of the staff reports.)
After the usual call to order, roll call, and the Pledge of Allegiance were taken, members of the public were invited to speak on any non-agenda item. Three chose to do so.
Millo Fenzi of the Woodside Bicycle Committee spoke about the Committee’s recent organized ride. Members of the Town COWncil are invited to participate, and have the opportunity to win the ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ award. Carroll Ann Hodges has held the award for the past year, and jokingly said, “I can’t tell you how delighted I am to give it up!” The award went this year to member Deborah Gordon, who managed to BULL through all ten miles of the ride with a broken foot!
Next, Rebecca Witter spoke about her and her husband Kip’s issue before the Council, which was item number six on the agenda but which staff had recommended not be heard during this meeting. She reminded the COWncil of all their efforts on support of horses and equestrians in the Town of Woodside, and that the Town General plan supports horses as an essential part of the character of Woodside. She said that recent Town Staff report dismissing the public benefits of their request to keep horses alongside the road on their property had left her confused and COW-ncerned.
She stated that a recent fire safety study by consultants to the Town of Woodside had said that greatest risk of wildfire threat in Woodside came from poorly maintained private property, and that Fire Inspector Marshal Heard had said that their property was at very low risk of fire danger compared to neighboring properties, which she attributed to the beneficial effects of horses grazing. According to Mrs. Witter, two fires had been caused in Woodside in the last year due to cars parking alongside overgrown roadsides. Additionally, she cited the benefits to the community of them boarding other community member’s horses at their property, the siting of the horses as far away from her neighbors as possible by their location along the road, and desensitizing horses to car and emergency vehicle noises as additional public benefits.
Finally, Anne Kasten spoke on the issues of construction crews parking alongside Highway 84, obscuring sight lines and blocking traffic, as well as the ‘disgusting’ condition of the Park & Ride lot at 280 and Woodside Road. She asked the Town COWncil to review both issues.
Moving on to new business, Ron Romines was unanimously elected to the office of Mayor, with outgoing Mayor Boynton voting “enthusiastically yes.” There was one abstention – Mr. Romines himself. Mr. Romines then nominated Peter Mason for the office of Mayor Pro-Tem, noting his service with the Architectural and Site Review Board (ASRB), and Mr. Mason was unanimously elected to that office. Mayor Boynton then handed over the REINS of power to the new Mayor Romines.
Sue Boynton was thanked for her service as the past Mayor of Woodside. Mayor Romines’ first official act was giving her a commendation by the Council, noting her eight years of service on the Council and her two terms as Mayor. According to the new Mayor, among the highlights of the past year was “webcasting COWs,” acknowledging COW’s role in shining a little light into the barn of Woodside government. He went on to list revised stable regulations, the COWncil’s debate on ‘when is a garage really a garage’, and ‘when is a loft a second bedroom’? All of these issues and more have been reported on by COW in the past year – please check our archives for more information!
Town Manager Susan George personally thanked the former Mayor on behalf of Woodside Staff, and said she had brought a lot of sunshine into their lives this past year. She then gave the former Mayor a thank-you gift. Sue Boynton then gave a short speech saying she had thoroughly enjoyed the year, and singled out Woodside Staff for high praise, saying the staff were great and made the COWncil look good, “even when we (the council) mess up,” and then said she looked forward to the coming year.
The meeting then moved to an interview of Barbara Hoskinson for a position on the ASRB. She had previously served on the Open Space Committee for more than four years and works as a construction designer. She has not previously attended ASRB meetings. The COWncil conducted a short interview with her about various design topics, soliciting her opinions on issues she would be likely to face on the Review Board. Ultimately, all members voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Hoskinson to the ASRB.
The consent calendar was approved with no discussion on individual items. A list of the items as well as the rest of the agenda can be found on our website.
As promised, Item Six, the Conservation Easement on the Witter’s property was postponed until an indefinite future date. When asked if the Item could be assigned to a particular date, Susan George stated it wasn’t currently possible due to staff going on holiday break and unable to find the documents the Witter’s legal counsel requested before then. She went on to say that the January 8th meeting’s agenda would be set before the documents could be located – and that meeting has been cancelled anyway – and that the January 22nd meeting was booked with a major appeal. She said they would work to find a date for the Item, but at this point don’t know when that would be. Upon further questioning, she said the Item wouldn’t come up before the February meeting at her best guess.
The final major item of business was Item 7 on the agenda, the adoption of an ordinance amending Chapter 150 of the Woodside Municipal Code. Planning Director Hope Sullivan outlined the issue, reminding the COWncil that it had first come up on November 27th. Due to certain concerns, some of the language in the ordinance was clarified – specifically removal or connections of utilities during emergencies, and exempting barns from the sprinkler ordinance. Hope had gotten clarification from Cal Fire about high-severity fire zone maps, and staff recommended the ordinance be approved. The COWncil discussed the state fire zone map and the process the state is taking in producing it, and how the Town of Woodside could make the map more restrictive in consultation with the local Fire Marshal, but not less restrictive than the state map.
They discussed the lack of detail in the state map and how the COWncil wants to make it more detailed, with property lines and other distinguishing features. Hope said that if the state map overlays part of a property, the entire property would be designated a high severity fire zone, as it would be easier – unless possibly if the property was very large. Keep on the lookout for that map, COWs! The final version should come sometime in the new year. Some on the COWncil expressed the concern that the whole Town should be considered a high risk fire zone, and that the state map didn’t cover very much of the Town at all – and wanted to explore labeling much more of the Town a high risk fire zone. After some discussion, the ordinance was approved unanimously.
The next Woodside Town COWncil meeting will be held on January 22nd, and if you can’t make it, you can always watch the video on Mootube and read the wrap-up here!