Woodside: Mayor wants to heal divide over 2015 election


Tom Livermore, chosen by his colleagues on the Town Council on Dec. 13 to be mayor of Woodside for 2017, is retired from a 30-year career in business, including the business of making ice cream.

Mr. Livermore said that his priorities as mayor for the coming year include following the lead of his predecessor, Deborah Gordon, in trying to restitch the community fabric after the contentious election between Nancy Reyering and write-in candidate Chris Shaw for a seat on the Town Council in the fall of 2015.

Mr. Shaw won with 53 percent of the vote after a campaign colored by bitterness among the candidates' backers. "I want to help try to smooth over some of that," Mr. Livermore said.

The council elected Mr. Shaw as mayor pro tem, which puts him in line to be mayor in 2018. Mr. Shaw "came in with a big mandate," Mayor Livermore said, "and I felt that (electing him mayor pro tem) was important."

The mayor, a title that rotates among the council members, presides over council meetings and sets agendas. The mayor pro tem chairs council meetings in the mayor's absence.

As mayor, Mr. Livermore said he also wants to continue the effort to simplify the town's residential planning and building processes. "The community has been working on it for awhile," he said, "but it still needs (work) to make life easier for our residents. That's really one of the top priorities."

Mr. Livermore has a philosophy of governing. "I feel that government needs to be responsive, but it shouldn't be intrusive. It shouldn't be overbearing." he said. He favors less government because it means fewer rules.

The problem with creating rules, he said, is that a rule tends to beget additional rules to clarify the original rule. "You have to be really, really careful," he said. "It's a lot better to educate folks."

State Proposition 64 legalizing the use of recreational marijuana received 65 percent of the vote in Woodside, higher than county and state margins of victory."That tells you something right there, doesn't it," Mr. Livermore said, adding that a study session on the matter will be held "fairly quickly."

Upside down

Mr. Livermore, who is 68, has a degree in art history from Lake Forest College near Chicago. After graduation, he tried his hand at photojournalism for the Boston Globe newspaper and ran an art gallery, also in Boston, where he met Ansel Adams and worked with notable Magnum photographers Gene Richards and Constantine Manos.

After work with a management consulting firm, Mr. Livermore took a position assisting a vice president at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream in the East Bay. He spent a lot of time in warehouses, he said, including "giant freezers" kept at a temperature of 20 degrees below zero. He recalled a problem with lids popping off ice cream containers when shipped from the Bay Area to Denver, a mile above sea level where air pressure is lower.

"We figured out that if (we) simply turned all the ice cream cartons upside down when we stacked it on the pallets, the weight of the ice cream would keep the lids on," he said. "A fun place to work."

He retired from business as vice president of sales and marketing at FP International, a Fremont-based company that makes packaging, including bubble wrap and the inflated plastic bags that prevent movement of items inside boxes during shipment.

He and his wife have been residents of Woodside for 30 years, he said. Mr. Livermore came to the council in 2015 from the Architectural and Site Review Board, whose five members are charged with protecting the rural character of Woodside and ensuring that residential projects are consistent with town rules and guidelines.

Mr. Livermore serves on the boards of Hidden Villa in Los Alto Hills, the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, and the Horse Park in Woodside. The couple own two horses and their daughter competes in show jumping, he said.


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7 people like this
Posted by BULLIED
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

Shoddy reporting, throwing out statements like "a campaign colored by bitterness among the candidates' backers" without anything to back it up.

There was only one candidate that had "bitter backers" and that was because of the dishonest campaign run by that candidate against an honored 7 year volunteer. The attempt to marginalize and bully her, and her backers, was unconscionable then, and remains a threat to an entire faction of the town whose voices have been effectively silenced.

Before you consider running one more article praising someone from Woodside Hills, get your facts straight. This is not the story Woodside needs.

9 people like this
Posted by The observer
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm

The pendulum either is at rest or it swings. If it at rest the community is in balance. If swung a little, then no one notices and the community is in balance enough. But if one faction pushes that pendulum too far, then that pendulum swings back and it swings back hard.

One faction pushed that pendulum too far. The sleeping dogs awoke and elected Shaw in an unprecedented write-in campaign en force.

This has happened before. Look at atherton. They pushed too far. People awoke and pushed to the other extreme. Is that what Woodside wants?

It will either be a middle way or it will be an extreme. And the extreme will not be the Woodside of yesteryear. The composition of the town has changed too much. The faction of yesteryear must seek the middle way or risk disappearing.

10 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Perfectly said, Observer.

Shaw's opponent's dedication, good deeds and volunteerism weren't the issue. It was her unreasonable positions on personal property rights.

Voters spoke. Good for Mayor Livermore for his efforts to move forward!

7 people like this
Posted by A local
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 28, 2016 at 5:09 pm


You *do* sound bitter.

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 28, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Shaw and her troika are a prefect example of much that is wrong with the Woodside Planning and building process. I build in Woodside. Planning there is an abomination, largely due to Shaw and two cohorts that want to inject their opinions into the process. That isn't their job. Their job is to determine if a project conforms with town regulations, not if they "like" a particular project or not. What they "like" doesn't matter a whit and the words "I like or I don't like" shouldn't come out of their mouths. Either the project conforms or it doesn't. Woodside residents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to appease the "troika" that thinks it knows best what should be built in Woodside, the regulations be damned.

Then you get to the building department. You're under construction and discover a small difference in actual conditions from what is shown in the plans. In most jurisdictions, the engineer of record issues an SSK and the inspector in the field accepts it, turns them into the town and signs off the work. NOT in Woodside. No, instead the engineer of record has to issue a full page revision which must then be submitted to the town for review. BUT, the town sends all of this out for review. So what you get is a four week delay in your project when a one week delay, at worst, would happen. So, Woodside residents, you wonder why the cost of construction is so high in your town? You can thank the totally dysfunctional planning and build departments in your town.

You want to fix it? Get rid of the "troika" that thinks they should be able to dictate what Woodsiders build beyond what they "think" should be built. And, fix your building department so that small field changes can be handled by field inspectors. Both of these will go a long way to improving the building process in your town.

So, "bullied", YOU need to get your facts straight. Your town has a serious problem.

6 people like this
Posted by woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:51 pm

to a Woodsider
You are mixing up the sides. Chris Shaw is the new Mayor pro tem and not connected to the three ASRB members. They should be referred to a two in lieu of three. I agree with your observations however. these two ASRB members are imposing their visions on what Woodside should be like.

8 people like this
Posted by WoodsideHillsResident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Dec 29, 2016 at 2:14 pm

The new Mayor should not have brought back the ghosts of an election long by gone by claiming that he will try to "restitch the community fabric". It's puzzling why Mr. Livermore would make a milquetoast statement and not recognize that Woodside has already moved on.

If Mr. Livermore is so concerned about community fabric and feels that "government needs to be responsive, but it shouldn't be intrusive. It shouldn't be overbearing." and he "favors less government because it means fewer rules", he should turn his attention to his own District. The Homeowners Board he presides as President ruined the community fabric by trying to pass a very restrictive CC&R, even restricting number of family pets to two and prohibiting keeping of family pets such as pot belly pigs, without getting any input from homeowners. Had the CC&R Mr. Livermore promoted with less than 30 days to vote passed, many residents would be in a position to give away or euthanize family pets.

Mr. Livermore's record in his own District does not support the statements he makes regarding governance.

8 people like this
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Dec 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm

The first post in the this thread (from "Bullied") is proof that many in our town have yet to put that contentious election behind them.

Mr. Livermore is one of the most reasoned voices in our town. Most of us are very pleased he now holds the gavel!

10 people like this
Posted by Woodside Hills homes
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Dec 29, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Congratulations to the newly appointed Mayor of Woodside. However, residents of Woodside Hills the mayor represents were not impressed by his leadership as President of the homeowners association that enforces the governing documents known as CC&Rs. These documents are attached to the deeds and affect the value of properties in Woodside Hills. Mr. Livermore allowed the Board to insert new restrictions in the CC&Rs without a transparent due process and by personally promoting a 'yes' vote without giving homeowners any chance to comment. Lets hope that Mr. Livermore will be a better leader as Mayor and will pay more attention to transparency and conflict of interest problems that are rampant in Woodside Hills Association board.

4 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 4, 2017 at 8:25 pm

Menlo Voter [part removed]. In fact, there is only one member of the ASRB who describes "liking" or "not liking" a project and that is Bruce Carlsmith. The others refer to the General Plan and Residential Design Guidelines. They do not give opinions, but base their recommendations on town documents.

And it is not the ASRB's purview to determine if a project conforms with town regulations - they do not deal at all with the Municipal Code or Building Code. That is the job of the Planning Commission or Town Council. The ASRB gives RECOMMENDATIONS to the Planning Director, based on Design Guidelines.

You sound quite disgruntled about something, but your facts aren't right.

Agreed about Engineering and the Building Department. It has been a disaster from time immemorial, and Paul Nagengast made it worse.

"Field inspectors"?? You clearly have no clue about Woodside's General Plan.

Like this comment
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 5, 2017 at 5:39 am

pogo is a registered user.

Retired Realtor -

I have PERSONALLY attended ASRB meetings where members weighed in with purely personal opinions about a design.

The ASRB exists to review residential applications for community character, site planning, building design, and landscape elements.

The ASRB is not the fashion police and have no business imposing their personal preferences on applicants.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Retired realtor:

[part removed] A Field Inspector is the building inspector that actually goes to the job site to inspect projects hence the term "field". [part removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by Dad
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jan 5, 2017 at 12:49 pm

I don't have a dog in this race other than living in town but I continue to be struck by the bullying tone and sexist attacks of "pogo" and a few others who go after women volunteers.

2 people like this
Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Oh Pogo, -- yawn -- it is well known that you are opposed to design review and opposed to virtually any limits on development in Woodside. In any given town with design review there exist those few who want unfettered ability to maximize development, but this position is objectionable to the vast majority of Woodside residents. And the tactics in advancing this position, including here on the Almanac website from bloggers like you have been pretty outrageous.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 6, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Retired Realtor, Mountain Home Road. Guess I know who you are. You got yours the way you want it so screw everyone else, eh? In case you hadn't noticed, the biggest problem on the ASRB that ran for council got TROUNCED. So I doubt the "vast majority"of residents in Woodside find it objectionable that they be allowed to develop their properties without the infusion of the supposed "tastes" of those on the ASRB.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

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