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Woodside Glens residents get new piece to their puzzle

 

The Glens is what could be called the "less-fashionable side" of Woodside, as F. Scott Fitzgerald might say.

And some residents of the community of 185 homes on the east side of Canada Road say they aren't being treated fairly compared with those in the other areas of the town.

More particularly, what has grated on them are planning regulations that they say limit how they can add on to or remodel their homes, in many cases to accommodate growing families.

The town Planning Commission held the latest of a series of meetings and neighborhood walkarounds to deal with Glens residents' concerns at Independence Hall on April 3.

This time, Planning Director Jackie Young explained to about 40 people in attendance the factors that limit what Woodside can do to accommodate their needs, given the constraints of state environmental impact rules.

The maximum house size that's now allowed in the Glens is 1,000 square feet, plus 10 percent of the lot area capped at 3,000 square feet.

Some residents have asked that the limit be raised to 2,000 square feet plus 10 percent of the lot area.

Under that proposal, the size of a residence could exceed the current maximum allowable total floor area under a certain lot size. Under the California Environmental Quality Act, that would trigger a full environmental impact report, Young told residents.

An EIR on the Glens would scrutinize such issues as an increase in home prices due to remodels, additions to homes and construction of garages, as well as the impact of new development on sewer capacity.

Affordable housing, which CEQA supports, is nonexistent in Woodside outside of the Glens, and sewers are already at capacity, Young said, so the EIR would probably not support the changes residents are proposing.

"Homes need to meet the requirements of the housing element," she said. "If you don't have a housing element, (the state) can shut down your permitting and stop building."

The town wants each house to have four on-site parking spaces since there is a high demand for street parking.

Thus, the town staff is urging the Planning Commission and the Town Council to allow broad zoning exceptions to help people build carports, parking lots and garages, particularly when there are narrow or no setbacks from the street, Young said.

Next steps include meeting with eight residents who want to build garages to inform them of the degree and variety of variations to development standards that are needed and to find a maximum housing-size increase proposal, Young said.

"What is really important is what it means for everyone personally," she said. "We want to reduce the need for variances and exceptions and still maintain community character."

The town also announced a series of public works improvements in the Glens, which residents applauded, including two 10 mph signs for two blind curves on Alta Mesa and Highland avenues to replace 20 mph signs, and coordination with the fire marshal on bidding for the removal of three large eucalyptus trees in the 100 block of Alta Mesa.

Young said she wants to accommodate more residents who want to build garages and encouraged those who do to email her at jyoung@woodsidetown.org.

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