The Portola Valley Town Council on July 22 held a closed-session discussion on the possible town acquisition of a parcel at 725 Portola Road, the current location of Spring Down Equestrian Center.
Nothing was reported out of closed session, according to Town Manager Jeremy Dennis, who said he could not elaborate beyond the information provided on the agenda. The closed-session agenda item was a conference between real property negotiators and Goodstein Family Partners Lp with "transfer of property to town ownership" under negotiation. Carol Goodstein is listed as the owner of the center on its website.
Spring Down Equestrian Center officials did not return requests for comment.
The parcel under discussion, one of four lots on the property, is just under 3 acres and is the only one owned by Goodstein, according to the San Mateo County Assessor's Office.
The center, which has operated in Portola Valley since 1984, abuts the Portola Valley Town Center complex at 765 Portola Road. In 2000, the town purchased 3 acres of the 12-acre equestrian center property and later 3 adjoining acres to use as public open space, now known as Spring Down Open Space. According to an October 2000 Almanac article, Stanley and Carol Goodstein sold the front two lots of their property to the town at below market value and in exchange were allowed to use the land for horse shows and equestrian training for a decade. As a result of the sale, the Goodsteins had to reduce the number of horses from 84 to 40, and move the riding ring back beside the stables.
In 2009 the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association gave Carol Goodstein its Hall of Fame award. In a post on its website, the association notes, "There are many kids that grew up at Spring Down who successfully went on to ride on the A circuit, or had a family of their own who are now back riding at the barn. ... Spring Down has been a safe haven for riders young and not so young, building self-esteem and confidence as well as team work."
It's not clear what the equestrian center parcel would be used for if the town acquired it.
A council-formed committee convened last year to research using town-owned property for affordable housing — including a small plot at the south end of the Town Center property. It narrowed down the choices to four sites out of more than 30 that the town owns and found that those properties had drawbacks that would inhibit development of a significant number of units or would draw community opposition, committee Vice Chairman Steve Toben told The Almanac last November.
The state passed new laws that will affect the Regional Housing Needs Assessment beginning in 2022 and could require the town to plan for 100 to 200 units of housing over the next decade, with some percentage of below-market-rate units.