Housing plan reveals snapshot of Woodside

Council approves draft housing element

Woodside's state-mandated plan for providing more housing in the town is being updated, and while the plan doesn't offer many policy changes, it reveals some interesting information about the town.

Woodside's Town Council unanimously approved a draft of the housing element of its general plan, the document that guides development regulations, when it met on Jan. 13. The state requires that the general plan's housing element be updated every eight years, and mandates what must be included in it.

The background on the town included in the update shows, for example, that 94 percent of Woodside's homes are owner-occupied, leaving only 6 percent of the town's residents as renters. In January 2013 the town had 5,441 residents, with 1,128 -- or nearly 20 percent -- over the age of 65. The median age of Woodside residents is 48, well over the San Mateo County median age of 39.

The median income in Woodside, $238,595 (in 2011) is also considerably higher than in the rest of San Mateo County, where it is $92,000. Even so, 19 percent of Woodside's residents are considered low income, which is defined as below $63,350 for a one-person household or below $72,400 for a two-person household.

The town has 2,180 homes, which is 7 percent more than it had in 2000, with a median sales price of close to $2 million in October 2014, the report says. Most of those homes have been around for a while -- nearly 80 percent of Woodside's total housing stock was built before 1980, with nearly 50 percent built before 1960, the update says.

Over the eight years covered by the new housing plan, Woodside has been assigned by the Bay Area Association of Governments (ABAG) to provide 62 units of new housing as its "fair share." The town plans to provide the 36 units of low-income housing it is responsible for with accessory living units, otherwise known as in-law units, guest houses or granny units. The town is also expected to provide 26 new homes for those of moderate income ($86,500 for a single-person household) or higher.

The number of new units Woodside is asked to plan for is lower than that of some other local communities because it has no ready access to mass transit, Planning Director Jackie Young said.

While the state requires communities only to plan for, not to actually construct, the new housing, Woodside has done better than some of its neighbors in providing additional housing.

The update says that during the period covered by the last housing plan, 2007 to 2014, the town was assigned to provide 17 low-income units; but 24 were actually built, all of them accessory living quarters. The town also provided a total of 59 new living units in the same period, with 31 of them single-family homes. It had been assigned a total of 41 new units for that period.

Planning Director Young said that many accessory living units in Woodside are built to be occupied by people who work on a property. Others, she said, are planned to provide rental income or are built to allow older residents a place to live while allowing their adult children and their families to move into the main house.

One part of the draft updated housing element that council members asked to have modified concerns undeveloped lots in the town. The update says Woodside has 270 vacant parcels totaling 894 acres.

Council member Dave Burrow said many of those parcels could never be developed. "We should be much more pessimistic," he said.

"There are several sections where we talk about constraints, but we're not very clear that the main constraint is that we don't have the sewer capacity and we can't get it," he said.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Boushey
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Like Atherton ? With their $2500. a month pool house for low income housing?

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2015 at 10:57 am

$63,350 is low income?

Like this comment
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

It is in Woodside!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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