News

Woodside council race: Clash over perceptions of rural character and freedom to build

 

With just two weeks remaining in the fall election, Woodside voters suddenly have a choice of candidates in the race for one of four open seats on the Town Council. The choice is also shaping up as a contest over the character of the town.

Chris Shaw, a newcomer to Woodside civic activism, qualified Oct. 15 as a write-in candidate to challenge Nancy Reyering, a member of the Architectural & Site Review Board (ASRB). Ms. Reyering has been unopposed since August.


Nancy Reyering

Chris Shaw
They are running for the seat now held by Tom Shanahan in District 3, which includes the neighborhoods between Mountain Home Road and Woodside Road, then south to the Portola Valley border.

Woodside has seven electoral districts. Council candidates must live in the districts they represent, but are elected by all the voters. Councilmen Ron Romines of District 1 and Dave Burow of District 5 are not running for re-election; running unopposed for their seats are former planning commissioner Daniel Yost and ASRB member Tom Livermore. Incumbent Councilman Peter Mason is running unopposed for re-election to District 7.

Ms. Reyering, 60, is a member of the Open Space Committee and a five-year member of the ASRB.

The ASRB makes recommendations to the planning director on projects it reviews for consistency with the town's rural character as outlined in the general plan and residential design guidelines. The board and the planning and building departments have been subject to harsh criticism by residents who complain about too much attention to detail and not enough of a welcoming attitude to residents with visions for their homes.

A survey is being planned to gauge the depth and breadth of community animosity.

Mr. Shaw is 52 and the chief executive of H2ORS, a maker of products related to cancer treatment. He has not served on town committees, but said that over the last six years he attended various meetings, including Town Council, ASRB and Circulation Committee meetings.

Mr. Shaw said he decided to run on Oct. 12 after discussions with residents "over the course of a couple of weeks." He said he is dissatisfied with Ms. Reyering's ASRB record, and with elections in which candidates run unopposed. "It's time for my generation to step up and take action," he said.

"I think (Nancy) is an incredibly polarizing individual," he said. Government is about trying to do what's best for everyone, he said, adding: "If you stake out too extreme a position, it's not in the long term interests of the greater Woodside community."

Asked to respond, Ms. Reyering said: "I have always sought consensus in my extensive efforts for the community of Woodside over the last five years. Woodside is a small community. We need individuals who can work together, and have the experience to maintain a degree of professionalism. Unsubstantiated and vague accusations speak to my opponent's inexperience in matters of town governance, and serve to emphasize why this election is about selecting a qualified and experienced candidate."

In response, Mr. Shaw drew attention to Ms. Reyering's participation in a council meeting in July 2014 over an Open Space Committee proposal to require that brand new fences along property lines be rail fences so as to respect wildlife's needs to move about.

More than 20 people spoke, most in opposition. They cited dangers for residents and pets from factors such as ticks, wild animals and criminals all arguable points, committee members said.

"I think there is no better example of a polarizing event than what she created with the fencing debate," Mr. Shaw said. "I think that I am much more a voice of moderation, much less polarizing and I think I represent a relatively young generation who needs to start taking on the role of government."

Priorities

Ms. Reyering noted her advantages from her years of service: She knows key players, has good relations with staff and knows the weaknesses in town government, particularly in planning and building, she said.

"All that experience has brought me to a place where the next step is to serve on the Town Council," she said. "I'm confident that I'm the most experienced and qualified candidate. My opponent even endorses me. I thank him for that," she said, referring to a comment by Mr. Shaw that she is "absolutely 100 percent passionate and committed to the town, the community and the environment in Woodside."

Her priorities: Maintain Woodside's "unique rustic charm"; streamline planning and building processes, particularly for smaller and medium-sized projects; create a more open culture between the council, residents and volunteers.

Mr. Shaw said he values "calm, rational civic discourse ... (to) make sure that everyone can be part of the community. It is not easy."

As a cyclist and parent, his priorities would include safety on the streets -- "It's hair-raising," he said. -- infrastructure upkeep and generally bringing "common sense to things."

Endorsements

Mr. Shaw is backed by councilmen Dave Tanner, Dave Burow and Tom Shanahan. All said they value his stance on individual property rights. Mr. Tanner said he considers Mr. Shaw a "good man," while Mr. Burow sees him as "a much more balanced person."

In a statement provided by Ms. Reyering, Councilman Ron Romines cited the importance of Ms. Reyering's participation on the general-plan task force, the ASRB and the Open Space Committee.

Council members Anne Kasten and Peter Mason said they're not making endorsements; Deborah Gordon did not respond to a request for comment.

Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Danna Breen
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Oct 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Nancy Reyering is wonderful: top notch integrity, hardworking, smart and has a background listening to residents and yes a backbone to lift up her voice when issues are uncomfortable and difficult. The ASRB is hard work. There is a reason Woodside does not look like Los Altos Hills.
An election is always a healthy thing, because it opens up the opportunity for dialogue. I hope and would urge residents to take Nancy's outstretched hand, get to know her and understand her years of service to the town. Woodside is fortunate to have a candidate of this caliber step up to the thankless job of volunteering to serve on the Town Council. Her energy and passion combined with her sense of duty and responsibility is inspiring. If I lived in Woodside I would be proud to cast my vote for Nancy Reyering, but too bad for me, I live in PV.


14 people like this
Posted by Woodside Native
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Reyering's campaign statemenrts are contradicted by her behavior. the proposal to streamline the ASRB process and make it less subjective has been stopped at the last Town Council meeting. ASRB members Mah, Reyering and Lubin showed up and spoke against the proposal even though their opposition was already in ASRB meeting minutes, Their husbands also spoke up. It was not a well attended meeting by Town residents, mainly Mah, Reyering, Lubin and their husbands and Planning Commissioner Voelke who was the minority vote in Planning Commission meeting ... They characterized the proposal to streamline the ASRB as a personal attack, slander, and denigration. Town Council's attempt to streamline the ASRB was unfortunately stopped even though the Planning Commission by majority vote supported the proposal.


14 people like this
Posted by Patient Observer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:38 pm

The author of this piece very badly mischaracterizes the conflict. It's not about a "Clash over perceptions of rural character and freedom to build". It's about what kind of people we want running our town. Whether Ms. Reyering is pro-rural or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is her past record in the ASRB of arbitrary and capricious remarks and making decisions based on her own personal agenda and tastes rather than pursuing the actual wants and welfare of the citizens. We need the opposite of that: we need calm, rational and mature judgment on the town council.


5 people like this
Posted by just a spouse
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:54 pm

Once again the write-in candidate doesn't speak the truth:
The fencing study he continues disparage was presented by A COMMITTEE OF VOLUNTEERS And included ideas for LESS REGULATION of fencing on interiors of properties. The Chair of the COMMITTEE that presented a REVIEW FOR COUNCIL of fencing ideas to protect wildlife on LARGE PROPERTIES ONLY was and is Sue Sweeney, wife of Council member DAVE BUROW. I was at that meeting and noted that 18 of the people expressed concerns about how any changes in fences would mean more deer poop on their lawns. Read the transcript of the meeting...
If he wants to "step up" then join a town committee and gain some real experience at the roots of the town the way Reyering has. Where was he during the General Plan or Town Center process or any of the other important Task Force that are mapping our town's future.

Dave Boyce and the Almanac should check their facts.


9 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Oct 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm

Can Woodside develop carefully? Basements as large as the house above them, houses being developed to the max because neighboring towns allow this, and Woodsiders want the opportunity to enhance property values, plenty of contractors who will champion all of these projects because it is more work for them, and so on.
I suggest if we chose the rural environment, we need to protect it. So many neighboring towns have gone beyond the point of no return. Family homes cover the land, no open spaces, no feel,of the land, just huge buildings.
If a vote for council member who cares enough to work to have careful development take place sends a message , I will vote for that candidate.


17 people like this
Posted by 5th Column
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 20, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Anyone who has attended an ASRB meeting in the last few years knows well that the troika of Reyering, Mah and Lubin take pleasure in asserting absolute personal, subjective comments and re design requests that are insulting to the professional architects, as well as Town planning staff with whom applicants and their consultants have carefully refined proposals in conformance and the spirit of our Residential Design Guidelines Ordinance.

The long established ASRB Residential Design Guidelines carefully crafted by the Council and the Planning Director to give some reasonable objectivity to the architectural review process are conveniently ignored by Reyering, Mah and Lubin as they are on power trips to redesign proposals that our highly trained staff has carefully scrutinized and presented as being in the intent and spirit of the legally mandated and codified "Residential Design Guidelines".

Perhaps the resignations from the ASRB in the last few years...plus the lack of applicants for Planning Commission vacancies. speak volumes of why a so called Streamlining of Planning and Building Process has been systematically short circuited by Reyering, Mah and Lubin.


4 people like this
Posted by just a spouse
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 7:37 am

"Perhaps the resignations from the ASRB in the last few years...plus the lack of applicants for Planning Commission vacancies.... " Oh, it speaks volumes alright--- to the abuse these town VOLUNTEERS take from individuals who do not read the Residential Design Guidelines before submitting a project to the ASRB. One of the towns contractors and council members has said" people come to him for projects without reading the Residential Design Guidelines first, "which is why they don't receive a recommendation on their first review.



Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:10 am

ASRB implies a panel of members with experience in the fields of architecture, geology, engineering, construction, or any other field specifically involved with the design and construction of buildings.
Is that a valid statement? Are there qualifications to serve on the ASRB in Woodside?


4 people like this
Posted by Nancy Reyering
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:44 am

The Architectural and Site Review Board (ASRB) reviews residential applications for community character, site planning, building design, and landscape elements and makes recommendations to the Planning Director or Planning Commission. They are not a decision-making body. The ASRB opines to evaluation criteria set forth in the Woodside Municipal Code (Title 15, Chapter 153, beginning at Section 153.220). The Code charges the ASRB with protecting the rural character and natural beauty of the Town. The ASRB ensures that projects are consistent with the General Plan and are in keeping with the Residential Design Guidelines.


9 people like this
Posted by Patient Observer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:54 am

So Ms. Reyering, what's your point? That the ASRB is only advisory so what they do doesn't matter? If they're only advisory then how can you say they "ENSURE that projects are consistent....?". You need to think this through before speaking. And THAT, Ms Reyering, is the problem we all have with your being a council candidate. We need mature, thoughtful representation, not muddy-headed lectures.

Furthermore, the language you quote is what the ASRB is SUPPOSED to do. The problem we all have is with what you and your cronies ACTUALLY do, and that's a matter of record: personal tastes and agendas, rules made up on the fly, good plans nitpicked to death. The ASRB is in trouble and its processes patched up to compensate for the cabal that controls it. It would be a tragedy to see that happen to the town council as well.


9 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Ms. Reyering, with all due respect, you're starting to sound like a broken record. Whenever some of your previous "ideas" are brought up, your party line is to state over and over that whatever you suggested was only that, a suggestion, that no ordinance was passed, etc etc. Basically, "don't worry, nothing came out of this idea, so you should vote for me."

I must be missing something here.

I am personally afraid of what "suggestions" you may make next if elected and how much time (and money) this will waste the Town and your fellow residents, while alienating many along the way.


6 people like this
Posted by Prefer to remain anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 21, 2015 at 3:08 pm

[as I may have items coming before the Woodside ASRB, I will remain anonymous]

Nancy's characterization of the ASRB as simply "making recommendations", along with her description on Nextdoor today of her work on 2014's Fence Guideline changes, is disingenuous at best.

She describes the 2014 scenario as "The discussion in July 2014 was a Study Session — a chance for people to talk about ideas. This idea involved both safety and wildlife: something that should interest all of us." Both the press coverage AND the Woodside Town Council meeting minutes describe something quite different.

I'd suggest reviewing
Web Link
and the relevant part of Web Link
(starting on page 42)

and then compare them to Nancy's description of the same events:
Web Link

before deciding if this is someone you want to elect to the Town Council.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob Pierce
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

I don't live in Woodside but after reading the comments I was struck by the anger some letter writers expressed toward Nancy Reyering and how all did not use their name. Just something for the Woodside voters to think about. One other thing: the pro-Reyering comments came from people I know to be strong environmentalists .


2 people like this
Posted by Just a Spouse
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 6:38 pm

Dear Prefer to remain anonymous---
Looks like you forgot to read the minutes from the Town Council meeting regarding the study session on Fences, which was requested by the Town Council.
"The Open Space Committee has forwarded its recommendations to Town staff to provide to the Town Council at this study session. While the Committee did make some specific recommendations to the current regulations which are contained in WMC § 153.051, staff will need to translate the Open Space Committee recommendations into an ordinance for consideration. This step will be taken after this initial check- in with the Town Council.
The discussion did result in a few ideas, including engaging a wildlife biologist, collecting data on wildlife, limiting effects on small-property fences and focusing on large-property fences. And having more study sessions.
CONCLUSION
Staff commends the efforts of the Open Space Committee and in particular the subcommittee that spent many hours reviewing ordinances and preparing these recommendations. Staff and the Open Space Committee look forward to Town Council comment and direction on the work done so far. If appropriate, staff will work with the Open Space Committee to craft an ordinance for Planning Commission and Town Council review."

"if the fence proposal seems progressive in tone, it may be because volunteers tend to be more progressive than people who don't volunteer, Mr. Burow added."


7 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 21, 2015 at 8:41 pm

As has been posted repeatedly, residents don't feel safe posting their comments publicly due to a strong expectation of retaliation from the various approval bodies.

I sure don't.

One should read all the articles, comments and threads posted on the fencing debate, ASRB and planning dept topics and talk to people that have gone through the process recently. Then decide who to vote for. At minimum one would conclude the town is not happy with the status quo.

I already voted for Chris Shaw.


3 people like this
Posted by Prefer to remain anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Just a spouse - I absolutely did read the town council minutes, and one of the links I listed was to exactly those minutes. The minutes make it very clear that what Nancy Reyering described as a "study session - a chance for people to talk ..." , was in fact a submission of a specific proposal and discussion of that specific proposal.

It's true that an actual ordinance was not proposed, as town staff would need to prepare the legal language, but describing what happened as some sort of open discussion is, to say the least, not how most would describe it, and was certainly not how either the council minutes or the Almanac's story described it.

I'd encourage those interested to read all the materials (Nancy's nextdoor post describing what happened, the town council minutes, and the Almanac story) and draw their own conclusions about the accuracy or lack thereof of the various descriptions.


10 people like this
Posted by 5th column
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Oct 21, 2015 at 9:31 pm

It's common knowledge that former ASRB members quit because they could not stomach the Reyering Mah Lubin troika micromanaging every detail that our professional staff had already vetted, with Reyerings outright disregard for the carefully crafted and Council approved "Legally compliant with State Of California planning process" Residential Design Guidelines ordinance. Reyering oft opined that Woodside should use Portola Valley architectural review guidelines...well since a number of her supporters are PV residents .. Maybe Nancy should move to PV where she can run the show

You should see the body language of the Planning Director and her highly professional staff in their exasperation with comments from Reyering Mah and Lubin at AsRB meetings on applications that staff has already had several meetings to ensure compliance with the State Planning Office approved Residential Design Guidelines...doesn't matter to Reyering, Mah and Lubin...

Are we now about to elect a new council member who will subject the Town to protracted legal challenges because Reyering wants to substitute her own "Reyering Design Guidelines" for our legally compliant and objective RDG?


3 people like this
Posted by Aydan
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Oct 22, 2015 at 9:52 am

I know Nancy through her work in Town Committees and the ASRB. I've seen her make oral presentations to Town Council and Planning Commission through the years. Nancy was always well prepared demonstrating a willingness to give and to receive constructive criticism. She is a hard worker with high integrity and intelligence and she is dedicated to the Town and to preserving the elements that makes Woodside a special place. Woodside is currently looking at ways to streamline the planning and building processes. Nancy's extensive involvement and understanding of the current system make her an excellent candidate for the Town council.


3 people like this
Posted by Just a spouse
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 22, 2015 at 10:14 am

Dear Prefer to remain anonymous,
Once again you did not read all the minutes or the agenda for that meeting where it states it was a STUDY SESSION.
"It's true that an actual ordinance was not proposed," yup, that's right it was not. Nice to see you can admit to your errors.
Look you can vote for the write-in candidate who has no experience in the town government, or even any as a volunteer on a town committee. A person who wants Woodside to become a place where you can build as big a house as you want and an even bigger basement....
My vote goes to Reyering who sees the value of our community with a proud history and bright future-- with her on the town council.


3 people like this
Posted by Just a Spouse
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 22, 2015 at 10:34 am

Dear 5th column (interesting choice of a nom de plume for those of us who remember WWII and Hitler's Germany),

"It's common knowledge that former ASRB members quit because they could not stomach the Reyering Mah Lubin troika micromanaging every detail that our professional staff had already vetted, with Reyerings outright disregard for the carefully crafted and Council approved "Legally compliant with State Of California planning process" Residential Design Guidelines ordinance."
"You should see the body language of the Planning Director and her highly professional staff in their exasperation with comments from Reyering Mah and Lubin at AsRB meetings on applications that staff has already had several meetings to ensure compliance with the State Planning Office approved Residential Design Guidelines"

Humm, very interesting considering this is not reflected in the ASRB minutes or the town's Planning Department records. It would be nice if you could use facts next time, as I have done---but then the 5th Column was not know for that...


12 people like this
Posted by Sue Sweeney
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Oct 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

As Chair of the Open Space Committee I must respond to the comments made by “just a spouse”. The Open Space Committee created a sub-committee to address the issue of fencing. Ms. Reyering took the lead on this subcommittee and both developed and made the presentation to the Town Council on July 8. Ms. Reyering worked on the proposal with Town Staff. The proposal was changed in the weeks and days leading up to the Town Council meeting and the final proposal was neither presented to nor reviewed by a quorum of the Open Space Committee prior to the July 8 Town Council meeting. I have e-mails verifying and documenting this process. The e-mails are dated June 30, July 01, July 03, July 04, July 06, July 08, and July 20, 2014. Several members of the Open Space Committee believe in offering residents rewards for animal friendly fencing and do not advocate for more restrictive regulations for our residents and neighbors.
Mr. Boyce and Mr. Shaw did speak the truth.


1 person likes this
Posted by Prefer to remain anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 23, 2015 at 10:15 am

Just a spouse - I'm not sure why you described my last comment as "Nice to see you can admit to your errors" by VERY selectively quoting my post. Everyone reading this can read the entirety of my comments as well as yours and see what I actually said.

More importantly, they can read Nancy's description of the Fence "study session", and compare it to the descriptions in the Almanac articles from the time, the Town Council minutes, Sue Sweeney's (head of the Open Space Committee's), and Paul Goeld's (Town Council member / mayor at the time) posted on Nextdoor.

And then everyone can decide for themselves if they believe Nancy's description or all the other descriptions that agree with each other but not with her, and cast their votes accordingly.


Like this comment
Posted by Vexatious Litigant?
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 23, 2015 at 10:16 pm

[Post removed. Off topic.]


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

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