By Dave Boyce
Almanac Staff Writer
The black awnings that have been up will stay up at the offices of Intero Real Estate Services near the main intersection in downtown Woodside. The Town Council, on a 4-1 vote on Sept. 24, granted Intero's appeal of a decision by the planning director that the awnings were out of character with the downtown plan and in conflict with the municipal code.
In the vote, Councilman Peter Mason was absent and Councilman Dave Tanner recused himself -- the appellants are his clients, he said.
The town learned in the fall of 2012 that signs and awnings had gone up at the Intero offices at 1580 Canada Lane without permits and without review by the Architecture and Site Review Board, according to a staff report.
In subsequent meetings, the ASRB and the Planning Commission looked into the matter. While opinions differed, the ASRB advised against the awnings as proposed, and the Planning Commission decision ended in a 2-2 tie with three commissioners absent, meaning that Planning Director Jackie Young's letter denying the awnings portion of the proposal would stand.
In her letter, Ms. Young called the scale of the southern awning too large, claimed that it masked architectural features over a door, and called the two awnings atypical for a building of Spanish architectural style.
Building owner Susan Poletti, in making a presentation to the council, contested Ms. Young's points. Her presentation included photos and illustrations of buildings from around the world to try to establish that the building at 1580 Canada Lane was Mediterranean in style rather than Spanish, and that a black awning was in keeping with Mediterranean style.
Several members of the public voiced support for the aesthetic appeal of Ms. Poletti's efforts with the awnings. Some criticized the efficiency of the town's process.
Council members allowed the awnings but defended the process.
Councilman Dave Burow reminded the room that it was democracy in action. "The process is imperfect. It's inefficient. We know how inefficient it is," he said, then added that he did not find the awnings offensive.
"I really believe," Mayor Anne Kasten said, "that the people who serve this town serve this town because they care about it. ... The ASRB was acting absolutely in good faith."