Ahead for Woodside: Larger houses and faster project reviews?


When a new Town Council, with three new members, convenes in Woodside on Dec. 8, it will have before it proposals on two major changes that would have a significant effect on residential construction in town.

The current council on Tuesday (Oct. 27) agreed in concept to increase the allowable floor area of main residences, and to redirect certain small projects, such as new structures with floor areas less than or equal to 1,000 square feet, to the planning director for review instead of the Architectural and Site Review Board.

In anticipation of three new members joining the council in December, the council chose to defer action. The council does not meet at all in November; the municipal code prohibits council meetings after an election until the results have been canvassed and certified.

The council directed Town Hall staff to redraft a new ordinance intended to streamline the ASRB's processes, in part by establishing a set of small projects that would be reviewed by the planning director, not the ASRB. The reviews would be public meetings with advance notice to the public, and the planning director would have the discretion of referring them to the entire ASRB.

Another provision of the ordinance would shrink the ASRB to five members from the current seven, a change intended to speed up project reviews.

The council also agreed in concept to combine the floor area allowed for accessory living quarters with that of the main residence, effectively increasing the maximum floor area of the main residence by 10 percent and putting it all under one roof. The total floor area for a given parcel would not increase.

This change came about after residents of Woodside Heights made a case for larger homes to accommodate changing times, with more people working at home and the Bay Area cost of living pushing families into providing space for relatives. The change is not likely to take effect until the spring, officials said.

With one vacancy on the ASRB, the council also interviewed three applicants to fill that seat -- residents Bengt Henriksen, Scott Larson and Greg Raleigh. Mayor Tom Shanahan asked council members to rank their choices, then vote on the leading candidate. With Dave Burow and Dave Tanner dissenting, the council chose Mr. Larson on a 5-2 vote.

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6 people like this
Posted by WP
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm

The Woodside Heights homeowners have been persistent and well organized, good for them for working towards a reasonable accommodation to the existing zoning and building codes. Change is hard but they have gone about it the right way.

3 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:27 pm

The headline is a trifle misleading. While it's technically correct that somewhat larger main houses would be allowed in Woodside Heights under the proposal, it's equally important to mention (as the article does near the end) that this is a tradeoff of square footage between the main house and any guest house(s) on the lot. The total allowable square footage does NOT change, and in many cases having, for example, a single 5,000 sq foot structure would have less total impact, visibility, etc than having a 4,000 sq foot house AND a 1,000 sq foot guest house on the same lot.

1 person likes this
Posted by Woody
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Oct 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

What a joke. Anyone who has spent 5 mins in Woodside knows that there's not a single property below 5,000 square feet. Glad the town will quickly review those outhouse and garage proposals!

Lowering the number of people on the commission is equally farcical; all it takes is one person to cause endless delays and expenses.

I've been through this process -- successfully. It is completely arbitrary and unfair. Let's not kid ourselves that "reform" is anything other than an attempt to make nice, right before an election.

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

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