COWncil Roundup – June 23rd, 2009

June 30, 2009

The COWncil met for a long meeting on Tuesday, running more than three hours. You can check out the meeting on video on Mootube here.

On the consent COWlendar were a few interesting items: Susan George was authorized to hire “outside service providers” like contract planners and engineers with blanket authority, subject to a limit laid out in the Municipal Code but not stated in the resolution – no doubt because it’s $125,000! (See Municipal Code § 38.03 for details)

The COWncil’s annual month of August off was approved.

The contract for Jean Savaree, Town Attorney since 2004, was renewed and her hourly rate raised to $240 an hour this year and $250 an hour next year, rising from the $212 an hour in the current contract. Although that is a very big percentage increase, it is certainly much less than many COWs pay attorneys when fighting Town Hall.

After the COWlendar was passed unanimously, the COWncil took up the matter of twin bike races that the National Senior Games (aka “the Senior Olympics”) wished to hold on consecutive days in early August on Cañada Road. The Games were first held in 1987, and have been held every two years since then in various places around the country. Athletes 50 years and older are eligible to compete in 18 different events, with almost 13,000 projected to appear this year. The last event was held in Louisville, Kentucky, and this year the event(s) will be held in and around the Stanford campus from August 1st- 15th.

The organizers wished to shut down Cañada Road in its entirety for two days (August 6th and 7th) for their 20k and 40k bicycle races; after consulting with the Town staff and the Sheriff’s department, they decided to only request the closure of the southbound lane of Cañada Road from Cañada College to Woodside’s northern edge. The race would continue on county roads and U-turn at Highway 92.

The COWncil members generally agreed that it seemed to be a well planned event but expressed COWncerns over the inconvenience to residents and wariness over these sorts of events happening frequently. The head of the local organizing committee put those fears to rest by saying that Woodside “would never see her again” since the Senior Games are held in different locations around the U.S. For more information, check out their website here. The COWncil did end up approving the race. Signs announcing road closures will go up soon, and postcards will be mailed to every Woodside household detailing when and where the road closures will be.

Next the COWncil issued the demolition permit for the Jackling House. See our separate article on this discussion.

The Town COWncil also took up the New Building definition discussion again. The New Building definition is important because it triggers compliance with the Town’s restrictive 7A fire ordinance and the companion “7A-lite’ Town-wide fire ordinance – which, while they definitely help protect the Town and homeowners’ buildings, can be expensive to comply with. If and when a remodel is a “New Building” is thus a hotly debated issue. There are also concerns that if the Town has a “New Building” definition, it could trigger County septic system requirements as well. Paul Nagengast, the Town Engineer and Curt Clark, the Town Building Official seem to be getting closer to what the COWncil wants but they are not there yet.

The COWncil also adopted the Town Budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010 and approved the Town Budget for Fiscal Year 2010-2011; Susan reported that the Governor was having trouble rounding up a 2/3rds vote in the Legislature to take Prop 1A monies from Woodside and other communities (see our reporting here). It’s likely that the Governor will keep trying to take the money, however, so we’re still offering to film any local COWS COWments to the Governor.

The meeting wrapped up with Mayor Mason wanting to put the creation of a subcommittee to work with the Woodside Fire Protection District onto the next agenda. Town Manager George implied it would be on the next agenda.

COWncil member Hodges complained about the “slaughter” of an oak tree by PG&E. She pinned Paul Nagengast down and asked for an explanation. Paul said that PG&E had deferred tree trimming for a long time so they were now doing a lot of it – and doing it badly. This prompted both Mayor Mason and COWncil member Tanner to decry the generally poor job that PG&E does with trees, with Tanner stating that they hire subcontractors who try to get people to agree to have trees cut down entirely. Mr. Nagengast said the best he could do was “try to keep them honest.” We at COW would like to help if we can, so if you have had bad experiences with PG&E let us know.

The COWncil meeting adjourned shortly after that.

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