The Portola Valley Town Council last night (Feb. 13) approved Mayor John Richards' choices of nine residents to sit on an ad hoc committee chartered to look into the complex and controversial issue of affordable housing in town.
The council voted 3-0 to approve the new members, with Councilwoman Maryann Derwin and Councilman Ted Driscoll absent.
State mandates, updated every seven years, require all communities to provide housing that has the effect of establishing an economically diverse population of residents.
Thirteen residents applied for membership on the committee and were interviewed by a team that included the mayor and Town Manager Nick Pegueros. Susan Dworak, Bud Eisberg, Judith Hasko, Judith Murphy, Jon Myers, Andrew Pierce, Onnolee Trapp, Wanda Ginner and Carter Warr were appointed.
The committee will meet in public on five Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the Historic Schoolhouse at 765 Portola Road. The meetings are scheduled for March 5 and 19, April 16 and 30, and May 14.
"It's a lot of meetings in a fairly short period of time," said Councilwoman Ann Wengert at an earlier meeting. Ms. Wengert has been the point person on this highly controversial issue for the last year or so. "It's going to be a lot of heavy lifting," she added.
The committee's priorities will include thinking about and discussing: whether there is a need in town for homes for people of low and moderate incomes; a mission statement that would address the relevant legal requirements; ways to reconcile the town's low-density zoning with "the economics of affordable housing construction"; and priorities in finding and evaluating sites for such housing.
Former mayor and experienced mediator Steve Toben will serve as the committee's non-voting chair. The council decided not to participate in the meetings -- not even to the extent of having a liaison present -- but will rely on the town manager and the committee chair to keep them informed as the discussion unfolds.