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Woodside OK's multi-family zoning on Canada College campus

This is the first multi-family zoning in the town

Many residents of Woodside don't even realize that Canada College is within the town limits, perhaps because most have to get on the freeway to get to the college's front entrance. So it may not be surprising that on Jan. 13, when the Town Council deliberated allowing the town's first multi-family zoning, located entirely on the college campus, only one person turned up to speak.

The council voted to allow multi-family housing to be built on most of the campus, excluding an open meadow on the west side of the campus that is close to some Woodside homes. Two council members, Peter Mason and Anne Kasten, voted against the measure, but both said they would have preferred allowing the entire campus to be open to apartments or condominiums, not just part of it.

"We shouldn't be excluding one of the few buildable parcels," on the campus, Mr. Mason said, with Ms. Kasten adding her agreement.

The one speaker, Russel Baze, was representing one of the only Woodside neighborhoods with direct access to the campus. Canada College is located east of Interstate 280 off Farm Hill Boulevard, and the only way to get directly to the campus from other parts of Woodside is through a back entrance off Canada Road, which passes near a small group of Woodside homes.

Mr. Baze and his neighbors had earlier asked the town the exclude the large undeveloped meadow behind their homes from the new zoning for the campus, and the approved measure did not include that area.

Woodside approved the multi-family housing as part of its state-required housing plan, in which local communities are required to plan how they would be able to provide a share of the housing needed in the region. Woodside had promised in its last revision of its housing plan to rezone the Canada campus.

The zoning is based on development regulations that Redwood City used to allow multi-family housing to be built on the Canada campus in 2008. In that case, because Woodside did not yet allow multi-family housing, the land the housing was built on had to be de-annexed from Woodside and annexed into Redwood City, which then allowed the development.

The regulations for the new zoning include the requirement that that Canada College must own any housing built on the campus; and that buildings can not be taller than 35 feet. Up to 18 units per acre can be built; the same density as the current Canada Vista housing.

The state requires that communities have plans that would allow the additional housing, but not that it actually be built. Barbara Christensen, a Canada College spokeswoman, said at the meeting that the college has no current plans to build any more housing.

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