COWncil Roundup – September 28, 2010

October 11, 2010

The COWncil held another marathon session this past Tuesday, falling just a few minutes shy of a four-hour meeting. The public portion of the meeting began a bit late because the COWncil held Town Manager Susan George’s Performance Evaluation in a closed session before hand. COWncil member Anne Kasten was absent.

The meeting began with the President of Cañada College, Tom Mohr, giving a presentation on what is happening at the College in the wake of a $270 million renovation which includes the College Vista housing development. You can watch the presentation on Mootube. According to President Mohr, soaring enrollment has reached more than 7,500 students, the largest class in 20 years. He credited enrollment policies at the CSU and the bad economy for the increase, but looked upon it as an opportunity to grow the college. He outlined plans to install more athletic fields. The video is definitely worth watching to see what’s in store for our neighborhood college. To our amusement, President Mohr had to borrow a laptop from an audience member in order to display his presentation. We hope his students remember to bring a pencil and a notebook to class!

After approving the consent calendar, COWncil moved on to the meaty issues of the meeting. As we wrote before, the Woodside Library has been planning to spruce up the facility by spending its $2 million in collected property taxes which are dedicated to the library. At the meeting, Anne-Marie Despain, the Director of Library Services for the San Mateo County Library system as well as several associates gave a presentation (also on the borrowed laptop!) of proposed changes to the Library. (So, not only does the Town fail to provide streaming video of Town meetings, they do not provide basic presentation tools like a laptop!!!!) At the meeting, the COWncil approved the creation of construction drawings and plans, which will cost something less than $200,000. COWncil wants to take another look at the project before signing off on it.

The presses favorite topic, the endless Jackling House saga, came up for review. The staff report discussed the status of the salvage process. Three agencies are in line to receive historical salvage from the House. Our Town gets first rights to anything we may wish to keep, and then the San Mateo County Historical Association, followed by the University Art Museum of UC Santa Barbara. A $35,000 contract to hire a historical photographer to document every item in the house was approved (a figure that had COWncil member Ron Romines questioning what the money was for, even though it’s paid for by the applicant. Thalia Lubin, chair of the History Committee, explained the painstaking, involved, and apparently very expensive process to the COWncil. Town Manager Susan George emphasized the Town’s limited storage space, and stated that the Town was likely to take only a few pieces for the Town museum. Interest was expressed in having the photo archive converted to digital storage for future use.

The COWncil then dove into paved area coverage. This is a critical issue for all COWs. (See here). While the COWncil took no official action on a staff report, they weighed in on the controversial recommendations, including the real possibility that permeability would not be a factor in how much paved area you can have on your property, which means that gravel would be treated the same as concrete!

Next, the COWncil put off discussing the increase of fees that’s been talked about for months now but did allow Patricia Kutzmann, president of Kutzmann & Associates, the Town’s outside plan check firm, to weigh in. She stated that she loses money on every plan her firm checks for Woodside, that our fees are “pathetic”, and that if the fees aren’t raised, her firm is likely to start doing a less thorough job on each plan. We cannot believe that COWncil let that statement stand without a response. It is one thing to say that if the Town does not increase payment to her firm (whether fees are raised or not), the firm will stop doing our work but to say that the work will be “less thorough” should be a completely unacceptable threat.

By this point, it was past 11 pm, a motion to continue the meeting was greeted with a loud ‘no’ vote by Council member Ron Romines. The measure passed anyway.

The Firewise matching grants program passed unanimously, though Ron strongly advocated to increase the size of the fund to $50,000. The rest of the COWncil disagreed and kept the initial fund at $25,000. We would like to understand how effective this program really is. Our COWncil needs to be proactive on fire prevention and this sounds like it is a good program.

The official business finished with the appointment of members to the Ad Hoc Design Guideline Subcommittee. Joining Council members Anne Kasten and Peter Mason are Planning Commissioners Diane Elder and Adolph Rosekrans and two ASRB members Thalia Lubin and Barbara Hoskinson (even though the ASRB forwarded three names, saying they thought they deserved that many seats on the committee).

Afterwards, the COWncil’s busy October schedule was laid out. While the October 12th regular meeting is canceled, the COWncil will meet five times: October 11, 13th, 19th, 26th, and 27th. Most of these meetings will be devoted to review of the General Plan.

The meeting adjourned twenty minutes before midnight.

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