COWncil Roundup – April 29, 2008

May 5, 2008

Well, they can’t all be extended talkfests – Tuesday’s special COWncil meeting was fairly short, only taking on a few pieces of business – at least the public portion of the meeting. This special meeting was held to accommodate the San Mateo County Community College District (see below). COWncilmembers Hodges and Mason were absent.

The COWncil met in closed session from 7 to 7:50 p.m., for what was labeled on the agenda as “Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation: One Potential Case.” The law allows governmental entities like the COWncil to meet in private in cases involving legal action and potential actions.

The wait outside for the meeting to start did give our camera person time to get into a conversation with a member of the public, who had some questions about our filming of the Town COWncil meetings. She didn’t know that all the meetings we have filmed – including this one – are available at the Mootube section of our website. You can check out the film of this meeting here in Mootube.

The consent calendar had an item endorsing Measure O – the San Mateo County “Parks for the Future” tax measure. Measure O, on the June 3rd ballot. is a county-wide measure imposing , a 25-year 1/8 of a cent sales tax levy with the money going to support parks and recreation within the County. A member of the public spoke in favor of Measure O during the meeting. The COWncil had endorsed a similar measure before which failed to win the 2/3rds support it needed to pass, but did get a majority within the County and within Woodside itself. You can get more information about Measure O and the other items on the agenda here.

The MEAT of the meeting was, as promised, Items 6 and 7, which together transferred responsibility for the land at Cañada College that the College District wants to build housing on to Redwood City, as well as getting a credit for affordable housing from Redwood City. We, at COW, have reported on this before,most recently in the last COWncil Roundup, and as outlined there, we’re all best friends again with the District despite some tense words exchanged earlier in the process. After getting COWncilmember Burow up to speed (since he missed the previous meeting), the COWncil unaniMOOsly voted in favor of a property tax adjustment (the actual amount of which is $0, as you can read in our earlier articles) with Redwood City. It looks like the project will finally be going ahead.The District representative, Barbara Christensen, hopes for a September date for ground breaking. You can read more about the project here and see a final site plan here.

Item 7 approved an exchange of regional housing allocation. This is a complex issue we’ve also written about before. This plan with the District and Redwood City basically allows Woodside to reduce its required amount of housing from 65 new units to 41 units, by getting a 40% credit of the new development (at the expense of Redwood City). While this is a clever way to fulfill our state mandate, we hope that this isn’t a sign that Woodside is backing away from its commitment to affordable housing – see our earlier article for our concerns.

The last item on the agenda was the Third Quarterly Budget Review. Overall, the Town is in good shape financially, though the impact of Larry Ellison’s recent tax reduction will be felt in the next fiscal year. The $78,000 reduction will come into effect next year, although the Town owes him $10,000 for the past few years since the judgment was retroactive. Town Manager Susan George mentioned that at least one other property is looking for a tax reduction, and potentially many more. In response to a question from COWncilmember Burow, she said that something similar had happened in 2000-2001, where property tax revenues actually fell 2.3%. This is definitely something to watch out for in the next few years, with home prices falling all over the country. Also, as we’ve mentioned before, we have strong concerns over how Woodside treats its homeowners, and so we think Woodside’s property values are in special danger.

The meeting closed with several comments by COWncilmembers and Susan George. The Town’s May Day festivities were mentioned (see our article here). Additionally, Susan George talked about the County’s response to Woodside’s concerns about Greer Road and the Final Environmental Impact Report on Huddart and Wunderlich Parks. Residents of Greer Road will be ecstatic to learn that after the intervention of County Supervisor Rich Gordon, the gate into Huddart Park from Greer Road will be locked again (you can read about the issue here). The County Board of Supervisors put off their final consideration of the FEIR once more, until their June meeting, after lobbying by Woodside. The hope is that Woodside and County staff can work on some of our Town’s concerns and come to some accommodation before the Supes vote on it in June.

After these comments, the meeting adjourned before 9 p.m.

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