For now, officials in Woodside Town Hall are short on answers when asked about what's happening at 2350 Alameda de las Pulgas, a residential property located a block south of Woodside High School that is owned by Markos Kounalakis – the husband of Eleni Kounalakis, a developer and one of two Democratic candidates for California lieutenant governor in the Nov. 6 election.
Woodside officials and neighbors want to know: Is there or has there been unauthorized construction on the site, including a fence, a gate and an accessory structure? Is there more than one residence on the grounds?
Town Hall recently received a petition signed by 18 residents, most of whom indicated they live on Ward Way, a nearby cul-de-sac. "We appreciate the rural feel of the town and want to preserve it," the petition begins.
A short catalog of grievances follows that includes allegations of unpermitted new separate entrances to the main residence, new auxiliary buildings, new paving, a new fence and a new gate, with a note that development on Kounalakis' property has been going on for three years.
"The suspected building code violations were turned over to the Woodside Town Attorney a number of months ago," the petition says. "Extreme violators of the town building ordinances and Woodside Town mission should be made to comply with the permit process the same as the rest of us."
Woodside's Town Attorney Jean B. Savaree recently sent an ultimatum to attorney Dori Yob Kilmer, who is representing Kounalakis. The letter, dated Sept. 25, requests that Kounalakis grant the town access to the property or face the possibility of a warrant for a court-ordered inspection.
"These complaints and accusations are groundless," Kounalakis told The Almanac on Monday. "The remodeling we did was permitted and allowed and expensive. These particular neighbors have not contacted me personally, but have been harassing my father (who lived there) and trespassing for years.
"I'll respond to the city's letter," he said. "Honestly I just don't understand what's wrong with these people. ... It is just saddening that neighbors can't get along for whatever reason. They feel it incumbent upon themselves to continue this unneighborly act."
Savaree notes that the town "continues to receive complaints that the main residence on the property has been converted to multiple living spaces, accessory structures have been built, and both fencing and a gate have been installed on the property. The Town's files do not contain permits for any of this alleged work."
The letter requests permission to enter and inspect the property "to determine whether or not unpermitted construction has occurred." If access is not granted, "the Town will be left with no alternative but to request that the court issue an inspection warrant," the letter says.
Noise and parking
Katherine Doughty, who lives next door, said she had been shown around the property by Kounalakis' father in 2016. At the time, an outbuilding had been converted to a living space and a garage conversion to living spaces was underway, she said.
The 160-foot fence she shared with the Kounalakis property was taken down and re-erected in part on what she says is her side of the property line.
Doughty said she is waiting for the town to act. Of vital concern, she said, is the possibility of a fire risk if electrical work was done in violation of codes.
For Nora Contos, a resident of Ward Way, the problem is noise – for two and a half years, six days a week and sometimes on Sundays, she said. "The pounding," she said. "There were times when I couldn't open my windows because of all the noise over there."
Parking is insufficient on the property and so visitors park on Ward Way. "Basically it's the noise and the people parking on Ward Way," she said. "I have no idea who they are. ... You don't know what's going on. They're very private. It's like, 'Mind your own business.'"
Contos said she checked with Town Hall and learned that work was being done without permits, but she has not called San Mateo County Sheriff's Office deputies to complain about the noise. "We don't because we just kind of have a wait-and-see attitude," she said. "I just keep all the windows closed at night. I just ignore it. I just sit in my family room and watch TV."