COWncil Roundup for March 26, 2013

April 15, 2013

At the COWncil’s meeting on the 26th, COWncil member Peter Mason was absent and the meeting featured some unexpected fireworks between COWncil member Dave Tanner and a member of the public over a letter written about the proposed Farmer’s Market in the Town Center. Also, COWncil member Burow called out former Town Manager Susan George and accused her of mishandling the management of the Town’s sewer rates. You can see the kerfuffles for yourself by watching MooTube.

The evening got started with a COWmunity member speaking on the topic of trucks using their “jake brakes” – loud brakes that use compressed air on large diesel trucks – early in the morning. Trucks are using their jake brakes as early as 6 am, and the noise echoes for miles, disturbing resident’s sleep. According to the COWmunity member, other Towns ban the use of such brakes at early hours with noise ordinances.
Woodside doesn’t have a noise ordinance, but does have a disturbing the peace ordinance that might allow the sheriff to ticket if the Town requested it. There was also testimony that at least one motorcycle shop in San Francisco has been heard to encourage purchases to ride loudly through Woodside as Woodside “doesn’t enforce” noise rules. The COWncil was energized by this and told the Town Attorney and Town Manager to look into what could be done, and encouraged the COWmunity member to have his neighbors to send emails and show up at a future meeting, and he promised that they would.

The COWncil approved the consent calendar and quickly moved to the matter of increasing sewer rates for the Town Center Sewer Assessment District, formed in 1987 and servicing 125 residential and 24 nonresidential parcels in the main system, as well as 32 additional parcels that were added to the system in 2004. Ratepayers pay fees that are supposed to fully cover the cost of supporting the system; however, with no rate increases in 18 years, the surplus that once existed in a fund for the system has been wiped out. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of needed improvements looming for the system, with no way to pay for them. In light of that, the COWncil approved an increase in sewer rates, with the possibility of more rate hikes in three years. There was some drama over the rate increase, with a Town Citizen complaining about the rate hike and as note above Dave Burow accusing former Town Manager Susan George and past Town COWncils of mishandling the issue. Council member Deborah Gordon disagreed.

After this, they moved on to the next item and approved a handful of new fees. A new fee of $1,315, the same cost as the setback exemption and analysis fee, was attached to the change of use of nonconforming structures. The COWncil also increased the cost of a full reproduction of the Town’s General Plan from $15 to a whopping $125 and added a charge of $25 for a copy of the Residential Design Guidelines, as well as a $100 fee for a printed copy of the Municipal Code. Is the COWNcil not aware that the Public Records Act limits charges for copying public documents? The COWncil waived the fee for a Conditional Use Permit for riding arenas until March 31st, 2014.

Then the matter of the Farmer’s Market proposed for the Town Center area was addressed. Dave Tanner took the extraordinary step of addressing the COWncil and those present to defend himself against charges that he was against the Farmer’s Market and planned to stop it, circulated in an email by Liz Dressel. He denied the charges in the letter. Dressel, in the audience, claimed that the charges were true. As noted above, you can see the show down on MooTube.

Staff reported that their analysis of Measures J and 1 showed that the Town was prevented from allowing commercial enterprises like a Farmer’s Market on the parcels the Town controls, and that this would have to be changed by the voters. While this interpretation got some pushback from Councul member Ron Romines, who served on the group that passed Measure J, and from Liz Dressel, ultimately the COWncil decided to not get creative with the Code and instead investigate the possibility of a ballot measure, possibly in November. Meanwhile, the Farmer’s Market will occur on school property.

The meeting finished with appointments to Arts and Culture, Livestock and Equestrian Heritage, and Woodside History Committees, and with Deborah Gordon thanking COWncil member Tom Shanahan for opening his home for a fundraiser for a regional trauma center for the Veterans Administration, stating that it was well attended and brought in a lot of money for a good cause. So, we’ll finish with a Hooves-Ray to Tom!

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