COWncil Roundup – October 25, 2011

November 14, 2011

The Town COWncil had an interesting and contentious meeting . All COWncilmembers were in attendance for this meeting, and you should definitely check out the highlights on MooTube.

The COWncil approved the consent calendar (including funding for police services), approved a parcel zoning change and even held their quarterly budget review (fees from permits are way up) without any controversy.

The meeting then moved on to the meat of the agenda: a hearing on the existing uses of the Mounted Patrol grounds, and whether they’re grandfathered in or not due to the Patrol’s long-time use of the property. In actual fact, the agenda item was a COW-NTINUATION of a public hearing from all the way back in July 2002, which was appealing a Planning Commission determination from July 2001!

The issues involved are complex, dating back in history to the Patrol’s evolution from its creation during World War II to patrol San Mateo County, to its becoming functionally an arm of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department, and then becoming a private, men-only membership organization until they lost a lawsuit from a woman interested in joining the patrol in 1986.

The MP applied more than 10 years ago to modify its Conditional Use Permit on its 23-acre property. There was strong neighborhood opposition and concerns about increasing the number of events the Mounted Patrol hosts.

Many of the complaints were outlined in an astonishing 9-page letter submitted as part of a thick packet prepared by sitting but outgoing COWncil member Deborah C. Gordon, a neighbor of the site. As legally required, she recused herself from participating in the meeting as a Council member due to conflict-of-interest laws but appeared as a member of the public to voice her concerns.

The outcome of the hearing in the early 2000s was a multipoint set of agreements agreed to be by all parties to try to bring peace in the area which were to be tried out for one year, and then finalized. The trial period was never reviewed and the matter was never brought back to public hearing. The discussion about the matter was long (and occasionally loud). Town Manager George explained that the current General Plan does not allow an increase in the number of events. The item was deferred to enable the Town staff, neighbors and the MP to work things out.

Afterwards, the COWncil adjourned (and now won’t meet again until December, despite the many things the outgoing Town Manager wanted to try to accomplish before retirement).

To read the supporting documents of the Mounted Patrol issue, go here.

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