COWncil Roundup for December 11th, 2012

January 17, 2013

The final meeting of 2012 saw the Mayor’s gavel pass from Dave Tanner, who has held the post several times over his long career with the COWncil, to Anne Kasten, who will be serving as Mayor for the first time. Before the official ceremony, representatives of State Senator Jerry Hill and State Assemblyman Rich Gordon who represent Woodside spoke praising Dave’s service and vowing to serve as liaisons for the COWncil on State government matters.

After being nominated by the outgoing Mayor and elected by the COWncil, Mayor Kasten read a commendation for Dave’s on his work as Mayor and previous work on the COWncil. The COWncil’s work in 2012 included 17 previous meetings with a total of 47 hours and 40 minutes of debate covering topics as diverse as paved area regulations, zoning, and the Farmer’s Market. Former Mayor Tanner was awarded a crystal gavel by his fellow COWncil members and he gave a short speech thanking them and welcoming Mayor Kasten.

The COWncil then moved on to its business, passing the Consent Calendar. COWncil member Mason pulled the report on the Annual Road Program. He wants a more detailed accounting of the work the Town is planning for its bridges brought before the COWncil soon.

Next, the COWncil discussed the formation of a Town Arts and Cultural Affairs COWmittee. This item was brought before COWncil by an earnest group of COWs, who have been discussing the matter with Town Manager Kevin Bryant for some time now. They pointed to Portola Valley’s Cultural Arts Committee, and similar groups in our neighboring cowmunities, as evidence that such a group would thrive and be useful in our Town.

The COWmittee would promote and organize shows and events featuring the visual and cultural arts. The COWncil noted that there are not a lot of venues in the Town to host such events and asked where they might be held. Kevin admitted that it would be a “challenge”, but stated that there are some locations including Town Hall, the church, school, and library, as well as the interesting possibility that local merchants might want to get involved with some of these events.

The COWncil also wanted to know the budget impact of the COWmittee. The expectation is that there would be possible startup costs of a few thousand dollars but thereafter, it should be self-sustaining. Also there was an inquiry as to why the COWmittee was going to have twelve members, when many COWmittees in Town struggle to get half that number to attend. Bryant noted that twelve members was proposed to them by the people who want to form the COWmittee, and he noted that the level of enthusiasm for this idea was very high. The idea for the COWmittee was approved, and the advertising for members to be on the COWmittee will be wrapped up into the general push for COWmittee members the Town conducts. COWngratulations to the proponents of this Cowmittee. We hope that it does everything its backers say it will. More liveliness and culture in our Town would definitely be a good thing!

The COWncil then moved on to the long-running Paved Area / Surface Coverage / Equestrian Riding Arena issue, which, depending on how you think about it, the Town has been talking about for either months or years! After a long discussion, the COWncil passed the first reading of the new ordinance, which means that after the next meeting at the end of January, it’s likely to become law. It should make things easier on equestrians who want to build arenas with built-up surfaces but still build other amenities on their land, but it doesn’t have much relief for other COWs in it since it lacks such commonsense exemptions as some allowance for gravel in gardens without having to consider that “paved area”, despite the fact that the Planning COWmission thought that was a good idea.

The COWncil then went over potential amendments to the Municipal Code for water conservation in landscaping, as well as the Town’s climate action plan. As per usual, COWncil member Shanahan raised loud objections to Sacramento forcing such regulations on small towns without State funding. He asked if there was a way to avoid these regulations. Town Manager Bryant replied that the least-burdensome way to comply was to just spend the Staff time to investigate and implement a model ordinance (about 40 Staff hours total) and adopt the language of the ordinance recommended by the State. The ordinance will come back for more discussion in future weeks. The COWncil wanted more input from the business COWmunity on the Town’s Climate Action Plan, and so that will come back as well.

With that, the COWncil adjourned, and will be coming back at the end of January to start their new year. Congratulations to outgoing Mayor Tanner and incoming Mayor Kasten!

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