Tonight: Woodside may limit basement size, location

Plans for Jackling House site may get green light

If the third time is the charm, the Woodside Town Council will finally take the first step in a two-step process on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and introduce an ordinance to amend sections of the town's municipal code that are currently silent on underground structures, including basements, below-grade patios, egress/light wells and tunnels.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road.

The matter has been on the agendas for the two previous council meetings, but put off due to competing agenda items and time constraints.

Depending on the size of a property, the town of Woodside limits the floor area of residences above ground to maximums of 3,000, 4,000 and 6,000 square feet, but has had no limits on the size of basements.

With a significant uptick in 2015 in the number of applications to build basements, and with designs that are increasingly sophisticated and massive, including tunnels connecting underground rooms, the Town Council will be considering an ordinance to set limits.

Also on the council's agenda: Amendments to the town's general plan and zoning code that would allow plans to go forward to build a new residential complex on the property owned by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs. The site was once home to the Jackling House.

Basement ordinance

The proposed basement ordinance would set the following provisions on construction:

■ No more than 50 percent of a basement would be allowed outside the footprint of the building above it.

■ The maximum excavation depth for a basement would be 20 feet.

■ The size of a basement would be determined by grading allowed on a site. For residential zoning districts, the maximum would be based on the maximum allowable house size multiplied by 12 and divided by 27 (to convert to cubic yards).

■ Parts of a basement not located beneath a structure would require at least three feet of soil above.

■ As a whole, patios and egress/light wells could not exceed 15 percent of basement grading.

■ The 15 percent limit would also apply to tunnels, which would be defined as 8 feet wide and 9 feet high when finished.

■ Basements within property line setbacks would be allowed under certain circumstances, such as under so-called nonconforming structures – buildings on smaller parcels where normal setback requirements cannot be met.

Jackling House

Ms. Powell Jobs' plan will come before the Town Council after having been considered and recommended by the Architectural and Site Review Board and the Planning Commission.

The plans include a main house of 3,706 square feet and L-shaped, with two wings connected by a covered breezeway, according to a staff report. One wing would have a vegetated "green" roof. A 2,941-square-foot basement, used for mechanical equipment, utilities and storage, would connect to another basement under a yoga studio.

The seven other accessory structures are a sauna, two guest houses, a wine press, an olive press, a garden shed and a garden barn, the report says. The barn would include a greenhouse and a harvest/kitchen area along with a basement that extends under the wine and olive presses. The property includes an olive grove and a vineyard, the report says.

The plan includes merging the 6-acre property on Mountain Home Road with an adjoining 3.1-acre plot. The council will consider an amendment to the general plan to change the land-use designation of the smaller property to residential/environmentally sensitive area from its current classification of residential.

The other amendment before the council would introduce an ordinance -- the first step in a two-step process – to rezone the smaller parcel to special conservation planning from the current classification of rural residential.

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