COWncil Round up – Oct. 23rd

November 4, 2007

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the video of the Woodside Town Council meeting on our Moo-tube, you really should moo-sy on over and take a look at the video of the Council meeting. Here is a quick review of the major issues discussed at the October 23rd meeting. (Click here for all of the staff reports.)

First and foremost, all items on the consent calendar were routinely approved with a quick discussion on item 5, regarding Resolution Acknowledging Participation in the San Mateo County Sub-region for the Regional Housing Needs Allocation Process (RHNA) and Accepting the Assigned Housing Share.

The public hearing brought about a case that COW finds very interesting. A member of our Woodside COW-munity who was denied a building permit to remodel a legal non-conforming guest house was appealing that decision to Council. Hope Sullivan argued that removing the garage doors and finishing the space is a change in use. The homeowner argued that people use garages in many ways other than for parking cars and an accessory living unit is allowed to either have a garage or not, therefore removing the garage is not a change in use. Because the owner was able to point to other cases where the Town had approved similar work to be done, the Council came to the decision that this permit denial was in error and told staff to issue the permit. (To see the documents which the homeowner presented to the Council click here.) Which raises the question of why all COWs are not treated alike? We frequently hear complaints about this kind of arbitrariness. We are glad that the Council did not condone it. However, you should be aware that the Council did direct staff to come back with a change to the Code about what you can and cannot do if you have a legal non-conforming structure. If you have any legal non-conforming structure on your property, you really ought to watch this section of the video because those changes may well limit what you can do with your property. We will follow this issue closely.

During new business, the Council adopted a new ordinance about stables, that had been previously discussed in the past Town meeting. The proposed amendments were developed after much hard work by the Livestock and Animal Control Committee to improve conditions for horses and better regulate their care.

This was followed by another interesting appeal. In this case, the Town of Woodside levied a fee to a member of our COW-munity based on the destruction of trees – a BULL-pendous $22,500 fee. However, the homeowner argues he did not destroy the trees, but rather had them extracted and moved to his home in Atherton. He argued that moving trees in Woodside has been done many times and these particular trees did not screen anything. He stated the trees were alive and doing very well and that therefore the Code did not apply. Planning Director, Hope Sullivan, disagreed and said the way she read the Code meant the fee was due. Council after lengthy discussion stated they believed the Code was not clear on this matter and therefore voted to forgive the fine. COW-incidently, we had recently written an article about overcharging of fees. You can view the article here .

The Town discussed its financial status after the first fiscal quarter along with the Town’s salary schedule. A salary increase for staff was approved. And, as a separate item (Consent Calendar B), Susan George was given a raise to a base salary of $171,500, retroactive to July 1, 2007. Susan was awarded a $12,200 bonus for the 2006-07 fiscal year and has a potential bonus of up to $12,500 for fiscal year 2007-08 which will be decided by the Council.

One Comment on “COWncil Round up – Oct. 23rd

  1. Jersey Girl

    Thank you for the video’s and recaps. We are very interested in any changes to the code on nonconforming structures. Please keep us informed.
    How can some permits be approved and others not for the same thing? I just don’t get this. Wasn’t the Town holding private meetings with people who had went through the process to discuss this and to stop it? What ever happened with this?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *