COWncil Round Up – February 26th, 2008

March 5, 2008


This COWncil Roundup covers a meeting that had some darn interesting discussion about the proper role of Town staff with regard to making policy, as well as more on the Cañada College saga. You can watch this meeting on Moo-tube here.

The consent calendar had two items pulled off for further discussion – Mayor Romines wanted the minutes to be changed slightly regarding the acerbic exchange between him and Barbara Christensen, the Public Relations representative from the San Mateo Community College District at the conclusion of the previous meeting. Susan George wanted some changes to the Committee Handbook. Specifically, she wanted time limits imposed on Citizen Advisory Committee meetings – under her proposal, meetings would have two hour time limits. Additionally, she wanted to further stress the importance of attendance at these committee meetings – on two occasions she was forced to wait around for committee meetings that couldn’t take place because of a lack of a quorum. COWncil approved both requests.

Certainly attendance at advisory committee meetings is important, and this is not the first time we’ve heard complaints that these important sessions are not all running smoothly. The COWncil should make sure that committee meetings take place in a timely fashion and that the volunteers who are involved attend regularly, in order to conduct the Town’s business. There should be a policy that if a committee member does not attend regularly, he or she should be removed and replaced with someone who can commit the time necessary. That said, is it wise to unilaterally and arbitrarily limit the length of committee meetings to two hours? If more business needs to be conducted, shouldn’t it be up to the committee members to decide whether to continue on or reschedule such business to a future date? Susan George said that she had spoken with ‘several’ committee members who were in favor of having a defined time limit on their business, saying that it would help focus the meetings – but surely the individual committees could decide for themselves how long their meetings should be?

Two other quick items on the Consent Calendar worth mentioning. You can see those items here, (pages 24 and 33 respectively). The COWNcil very reasonably increased the mileage reimbursement for when private vehicles are used on Town business to 50.5 cents a mile which is the standard IRS allowed rate. The Town also settled a claim for $5,700, due to a nasty spill the claimant took on his motorcycle near Woodside and Albion due to sand the Town had spread over a recent road repair.

In New Business, there was a short discussion of a Memo of Understanding between the Town and the Fire Protection district. There was some talk about its particulars, but because the Fire Marshal and Fire Chief were not present at the meeting, this item was postponed to the March 11th meeting.

As we have already posted, Item 10 was very interesting – it involves what is ‘paved area’ in the Town of Woodside, and how it affects development. Hope Sullivan was absent from the meeting, so Susan George took over for her – and ended up urging the COWncil not to approve any of the suggested options but to have a study session on this important policy! Check out our other articles hereand here for more on this story.

In consideration of the interested members of the public who were present, the continuation of Cañada College –discussion was moved ahead of the marathon of, the Budget / Work Plan Review. We’ve written several articles about the Cañada College development already ( see the last COWncil Roundup here and our other article here.

At this meeting we got a report on how our neighbors in Redwood City are reacting to this proposal. The Redwood City Planning Commission voted 6-0 to allow a 60 unit development. They ignored the Town of Woodside’s concerns as well as the concerns of the Woodhill homeowners. What this means to the process is unknown at this point – Cañada had shown some willingness to compromise by reducing the number of units in order to drop the corners and provide some other mitigations, but Redwood City’s Planning Commission did not require these changes. As COWncil member Peter Mason said, “as far as they’re concerned they’ve approved it.” The Woodhill homeowners have appealed this proposal to the Redwood City Council – and Redwood City staff want the appeal heard by the end of March. The Mayor appointed three of its members of the COWncil – himself, Mayor Pro-Tem Mason, and Dave Tanner to a working group with the College to see if these concerns can be resolved. Stay tuned to this fast-moving dispute between our Town, Redwood City, private homeowners, and our local public college. There will definitely be more – COWncil member Burow even spoke of stopping the project entirely!

Item 11 was very long but important. Susan George and the COWncil meticulously went over the 2007-08 Mid-year Budget and Work Plan Review. The Review was split up into ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ priorities, with many of the C’s slated to be dropped entirely. Instead of studying the issue of web casting, the item was dropped. Please see our article on that issue here. While Susan George may have hoped to narrow down the list of items and provide focus for Town Staff, the COWncil couldn’t help itself and, in fact, generated more A priorities for them – causing Susan George to sigh theatrically at one point. Eventually the COWncil got through it all, but will study the Plan in more detail soon, after Ms. George takes the input she received so far and adjusts the Plan.

There were no Mayor or COWncil member COWmunications, and the meeting ended.

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