Woodside: Emergency access solution in the works for Skywood Acres residents


A resolution is in sight that should help relieve the difficulties for residents entering or leaving the neighborhood of Skywood Acres in Woodside during emergencies, and for neighborhood children making their way safely to and from the school bus.

Woodside's Architectural and Site Review Board meets Monday, July 9, to consider an application for a gate permit requested by the owner of 125 Stadler Drive, a site key to resolving the matter.

The meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road.

A memorandum of understanding included with the application lays out a plan for two new electronically-controlled vehicular gates that neighborhood residents, using an electronic key, will be able to open and drive through during emergencies even though the gates cross a private road.

The same memo sets conditions to allow children to use two new pedestrian gates at the same location until the town has improved an equestrian path nearby to make it safe for walking in all weather conditions.

There is one catch: before a resident can open the vehicular gates, a public authority – from law enforcement, the local firefighting agency or Town Hall – must first activate the electronic locks, a step that can be taken remotely, the memo says.

Skywood Acres is home to some 70 to 80 households in the dappled sunshine on a wooded hillside just north of La Honda Road and just east of Skyline Boulevard. There has been just one way in and out of the neighborhood – via Skywood Way at La Honda Road – since October 2016. At that time, someone -- it's not known who -- locked closed an old gate on Stadler Drive that had been open to allow informal passage for vehicles and pedestrians, including schoolchildren.

Residents have the right to use the Stadler Drive vehicular gates only if one or more key intersections in the area are "blocked, gridlocked, overwhelmed or otherwise inaccessible," the memo says.

In additional to the gates on Stadler, another way into and out of the neighborhood is nearly complete.

The town recently improved a site at the western end of Skywood Way and installed a gate opening onto Skyline Boulevard. The new gate is technically for emergency access only, but residents will be able to make exclusive use of it when they have an electronic lock installed, at their expense. The gate will not open for passing traffic trying to cut through the neighborhood so as to bypass La Honda Road.

Walking to the bus

In creating a safe route to and from the school bus, the memo assigns to the town the responsibility of improving an equestrian trail that runs along Skyline Boulevard, an arterial often subject to high-speed traffic. The trail connects Skywood Acres to the Skywood Trading Post commercial district, where the school bus picks up and drops off some 20 to 30 neighborhood children.

Until the town has leveled the trail, added base rock as needed, and covered it with a layer of decomposed granite to produce a "durable, relatively even, all-weather bed," the memo allows children and other pedestrians to use the pedestrian gates.

If the gates' owners do not adhere to the terms of the memo, the town can issue a municipal code violation and/or a restraining order requiring access for the residents. The residents also have the right to sue for enforcement of the terms.

In an emailed comment, David Madrid, a resident, attorney and negotiator on behalf of the residents, commended two of Woodside's mayors – Tom Livermore in 2017 and Chris Shaw currently – and Town Manager Kevin Bryant for engaging with residents and working out a deal with property owners involved along Skywood Way and Stadler Drive.

"Our view that government works best when it serves to bring folks together appears to have been vindicated in this specific instance," Madrid said.


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