COWncil Round Up – March 11, 2008

March 31, 2008

The COWncil decided not to have a meeting this past Tuesday (in order to accommodate Hope Sullivan and Susan George’s vacation schedules) . Here is the COWncil Round-Up for March 11, 2008. As always, you can view the video here on Mootube. Council member Deborah Gordon was absent.

During the COWmunications part of the agenda, Susan Getz , the Branch Manager of the Woodside – Portola Valley – Atherton libraries presented the latest fiscal year report for the Woodside Library. The Library has been doing very well lately, with the following achievements: a 22% increase in circulating materials at the Woodside Library, now up to 103,000 annually; card holders have increased 10% to over 9000; there has been a 34% increase in program attendance; and a 20% increase in reference questions answered by librarians. The Peninsula Library System’s annual report can be found here.

The COWncil then proceeded to honor Susan George’s fifteen years as Town Manager with a proclamation. After a listing of her prior positions and qualifications, Mayor Romines embarked on an extensive list of projects she has been involved with for the Town. The five-minute long reading of the proclamation highlighted the very close relationship George has with the COWncil, ending with hugs and kisses from members of the Town COWncil and spotlighting such actions as work on the housing element of the Town Plan, enhancing code enforcement, the Cañada corridor sewage extension, historical presentation element, the tree preservation ordinance, and other items that show her vast sway over the ins and outs of doing things in the Town of Woodside.

During the proclamation, there was a reminder of Susan’s 10th anniversary with the Town, during which she was serenaded with ‘Oh! What a Girl!’ – sadly that has been lost to history as it occurred before COW began video taping. .

Mayor Romines wrapped up the proclamation by stating that the COWncil and residents look forward to many more years of Susan’s leadership; and on behalf of the Town COWncil and the ‘citizens of Woodside’ (we assume he means the citizenry in general, as we never got a call) he congratulated her on “15 success-filled years as Town manager,”, extended heart felt thanks for her work, and “offer[ed] condolences for the angst she has occasionally suffered while at the helm.” We assume at least some of that angst is the reason we didn’t get a call!

The COWncil then gave her flowers, and Town Manager George gave a short speech, saying that there have been a lot of challenges, some that could have been done better. But they’re still trying! She also said that hers was an easy job to love and that she was blessed with a great staff and “great COWncils to work for.” She finished by saying that she has no plans to leave anytime soon.

Some problems with the Bike Committee then came up during the Consent Calendar, with Peter Mason wanting to discuss the proposed shrinking of the Committee by one member, to allow it to meet more regularly. It seems that there are only four members on the seven-member committee – so all members have to show in order to have a quorum – and this has stopped them from meeting regularly lately, even though they have business ahead of them. After a period of discussion, the COWncil decided to drag it out longer and delayed it to a future meeting when Bicycle Committee members or Deborah Gordon (the liaison to that Committee) were present, even after Susan George said such a change was usually pro forma. So, the Committee will still have trouble meeting until the COWncil gets around to having another discussion about it. The bicycle wheels of government grind slowly in Woodside, it seems.

The bulk of the meeting was then taken up with an impassioned discussion of a review of the ‘Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for the Huddart-Wunderlich Parks Master Plan’ and determining the Town’s position on the FEIR and Master Plan. A number of citizens spoke to the COWncil about their concerns, after Susan George discussed the Town’s many reservations about the plan.

There was a lot of anger and resentment towards the County on display at the meeting. The general mood seemed to be that the County was steamrolling ahead with a list of many projects without taking into account the feelings of the local community, despite private landowners as well as the Town having communicated those feelings to the County many times. A representative of the Flood estate complained about the vast increase in County vehicles using a narrow road bordering the estate that used to be closed except in emergencies, with the County now claiming such increased usage as normal. Additionally, everything from horses in creeks (a hot-button issue in our Town) to increased usage of facilities and night lighting was shoehorned into the report. It was said at the meeting that because the County only reviews such plans after many years go by, they stuff the Plan with every project they can possibly think of, and then if resources come along to complete a project, they act. The problem with this way of doing business, according to people who’ve dealt with the County, that any objections raised later are brushed off with ‘it’s in the plan’ – and so the feeling was that such things have to be headed off at the outset. Several citizens called for legal action against the County, and the presence of a separate lawyer for the COWncil seemed to point to that possibility if Woodside’s concerns are ignored. The Town COWncil directed staff to prepare a report outlining Woodside’s objections to the FEIR and pledged further action would be forthcoming. Watch this space – much more will come on this issue.

After the heat of the FEIR issue, the final three items on the agenda were dealt with fairly quickly. Item 12, which was adding language addressing Barkley Field to the Municipal Code. Some of the proposed rules dealt with liability issues, and others were agreed to by the Town in order to avoid legal action by neighbors of the field. This was approved after a relatively short analysis. Afterwards, the COWncil moved on to the 2008-2010 Roads Program, which was approved as well.

And finally, the Cañada College building project seems to be coming to some sort of positive conclusion, with the COWncil’s team of negotiators reporting a positive meeting with San Mateo Community College District officials. There were to be further meetings before Redwood City’s Council voted on the project – if there were any problems, our Town COWncil was going to have a meeting before they voted. As there was no meeting, we can hope that the issue is going well, but we will update you on any developments mentioned at future COWncil meetings!

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