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Unearthed open space easement provision puts hiccup in Woodside land use measure

A group of Woodside residents would like to develop more parking to accommodate outdoor gathering spaces at the Cañada Corners, located behind a parking lot behind Buck's and The Village Bakery. An open space easement could put that plan in jeopardy though. File photo.

A plan to outfit a piece of Woodside land for outdoor gathering space may be in jeopardy. A town resolution has surfaced that placed the land along the Cañada and Woodside roads intersection, known as Cañada Corners, under an open space conservation easement.

Residents narrowly voted to pass Measure A, potentially allowing expanded use of the residentially zoned parcel, but a 1980 agreement between the town and Roberts Market owner George Roberts, who owns the parcel located behind a parking lot behind Buck's and The Village Bakery, was not widely know about at the time of the election. After the election, the Measure A opposition group Save Rural Woodside posted about the easement.

The resolution states that no construction can take place on the property, San Mateo County records show.

The Town Council can choose not enforce an easement (or amend it), if members deem it to be for the public good.

Proponents of Measure A, an initiative to allow two sites in the Town Center area of Woodside to be considered for outdoor community gathering spaces that narrowly passed in November, want Roberts' parcel to be developed into parking spaces that could accommodate permanent outdoor dining, trails and play structures.

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Measure A co-author Alex Tauber said he is "aware of this hiccup and we needed to win the election to be able to discuss it."

"Now, it is up to the owner of the property to address it with the town of Woodside," he said.

A parcel of land, behind Buck's and The Village Bakery, that belongs to the owner of Roberts Market is designated as an open space preserve and parking could not be developed on the parcel, as proposed by proponents of Measure A with action by the Town Council.

The Save Rural Woodside group noted that "unfortunately the proponents did not do adequate research" before causing the town to spend money on an election.

When George Roberts applied to expand the Center in the late 1970s, his ultimate approval came with conditions that required the dedication of an open space easement across a significant portion of the rear parcel (in addition to a Conservation Easement along the creek bank and a trail easement), according to town records.

Last spring, Roberts Market President Christine Roberts said the grocer would love for the zoning of the Cañada Corner parcel to change.

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"We are in desperate need for some more parking for the shopping center and the grocery store," she said at the time. She noted there are only about 40 parking spots for the store and nearby restaurants. "Over the years our business has grown. We have more employees in the grocery store and of course the restaurants have gotten more popular and everyone needs parking for employees and the customers."

She did not respond to requests for comment on the easement issue.

The Town Council, by resolution, can abandon an open space easement, if it finds that keeping the land as open space no longer serves any public purpose, according to the Cañada Corners easement resolution.

Town Manager Kevin Bryant confirmed in an email that the Town Council "would consider any request made with respect to the open space easement in the context of a specific proposal."

"No resolution abandoning an open-space easement shall be finally adopted until the matter has been referred to the city or county planning commission, the commission has held a public hearing thereon and furnished a report on the matter to the governing body and the governing body has held at least one public hearing after giving 30 days of the meeting, and by posting notice on the land," according to a state government code on open space easements.

The other piece of land mentioned in Measure A is a town-owned complex along Woodside Road from Whiskey Hill Road to Roberts Market that includes government buildings. (This parcel does not have the same easement restrictions that Cañada Corners does.) Those who proposed the measure say this space could be used for the town to build a public building — a gazebo or amphitheater — for community events.

Because the rules were established by ballot measures J and 1 in 1988 and 1989, only voters could overturn the restrictions that limit future development on the two sites.

Measure J, approved by the voters in 1988, prohibited development of commercial or office space on a then vacant, town-owned parcel near where Town Hall is now located. It also required residential properties within and adjoining Town Center to remain in residential use unless commercial parking on those properties had been permitted prior to June 1, 1988.

Measure 1, approved by voters the following year, created an exception to Measure J's requirement that residential parcels in Town Center remain in residential use. Upon its approval by the voters, residentially zoned parcels in the Woodside Road Whiskey Hill Road Parking Assessment District were authorized to be improved to provide access, parking and open space — as shown in the 1989 Town Center site plan — so long as at least 50% of the residential parcels were maintained in open space. Approval of Measure 1 allowed the town to construct Town Hall parking and access improvements which now serve Town Hall, commercial businesses in the Town Center and the public.

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Unearthed open space easement provision puts hiccup in Woodside land use measure

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 10:39 am

A plan to outfit a piece of Woodside land for outdoor gathering space may be in jeopardy. A town resolution has surfaced that placed the land along the Cañada and Woodside roads intersection, known as Cañada Corners, under an open space conservation easement.

Residents narrowly voted to pass Measure A, potentially allowing expanded use of the residentially zoned parcel, but a 1980 agreement between the town and Roberts Market owner George Roberts, who owns the parcel located behind a parking lot behind Buck's and The Village Bakery, was not widely know about at the time of the election. After the election, the Measure A opposition group Save Rural Woodside posted about the easement.

The resolution states that no construction can take place on the property, San Mateo County records show.

The Town Council can choose not enforce an easement (or amend it), if members deem it to be for the public good.

Proponents of Measure A, an initiative to allow two sites in the Town Center area of Woodside to be considered for outdoor community gathering spaces that narrowly passed in November, want Roberts' parcel to be developed into parking spaces that could accommodate permanent outdoor dining, trails and play structures.

Measure A co-author Alex Tauber said he is "aware of this hiccup and we needed to win the election to be able to discuss it."

"Now, it is up to the owner of the property to address it with the town of Woodside," he said.

The Save Rural Woodside group noted that "unfortunately the proponents did not do adequate research" before causing the town to spend money on an election.

When George Roberts applied to expand the Center in the late 1970s, his ultimate approval came with conditions that required the dedication of an open space easement across a significant portion of the rear parcel (in addition to a Conservation Easement along the creek bank and a trail easement), according to town records.

Last spring, Roberts Market President Christine Roberts said the grocer would love for the zoning of the Cañada Corner parcel to change.

"We are in desperate need for some more parking for the shopping center and the grocery store," she said at the time. She noted there are only about 40 parking spots for the store and nearby restaurants. "Over the years our business has grown. We have more employees in the grocery store and of course the restaurants have gotten more popular and everyone needs parking for employees and the customers."

She did not respond to requests for comment on the easement issue.

The Town Council, by resolution, can abandon an open space easement, if it finds that keeping the land as open space no longer serves any public purpose, according to the Cañada Corners easement resolution.

Town Manager Kevin Bryant confirmed in an email that the Town Council "would consider any request made with respect to the open space easement in the context of a specific proposal."

"No resolution abandoning an open-space easement shall be finally adopted until the matter has been referred to the city or county planning commission, the commission has held a public hearing thereon and furnished a report on the matter to the governing body and the governing body has held at least one public hearing after giving 30 days of the meeting, and by posting notice on the land," according to a state government code on open space easements.

The other piece of land mentioned in Measure A is a town-owned complex along Woodside Road from Whiskey Hill Road to Roberts Market that includes government buildings. (This parcel does not have the same easement restrictions that Cañada Corners does.) Those who proposed the measure say this space could be used for the town to build a public building — a gazebo or amphitheater — for community events.

Because the rules were established by ballot measures J and 1 in 1988 and 1989, only voters could overturn the restrictions that limit future development on the two sites.

Measure J, approved by the voters in 1988, prohibited development of commercial or office space on a then vacant, town-owned parcel near where Town Hall is now located. It also required residential properties within and adjoining Town Center to remain in residential use unless commercial parking on those properties had been permitted prior to June 1, 1988.

Measure 1, approved by voters the following year, created an exception to Measure J's requirement that residential parcels in Town Center remain in residential use. Upon its approval by the voters, residentially zoned parcels in the Woodside Road Whiskey Hill Road Parking Assessment District were authorized to be improved to provide access, parking and open space — as shown in the 1989 Town Center site plan — so long as at least 50% of the residential parcels were maintained in open space. Approval of Measure 1 allowed the town to construct Town Hall parking and access improvements which now serve Town Hall, commercial businesses in the Town Center and the public.

Comments

awatkins
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Dec 15, 2021 at 1:27 pm
awatkins, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2021 at 1:27 pm

"Unearthed" is hardly the right word. I got a copy simply by emailing the town clerk, who sent it two days later. Anyone who took a brief look at the Conditional User Permit governing Canada Corners would have discovered this immediately, as we did months and months ago.

It's a shame the Measure A originators didn't bother to do any of this simple research before foisting the time and money-wasting Measure on the town.

It's further embarrassing that the originator continues with the lie that "we needed to win the election to be able to discuss it." Town citizens have been discussing how to preserve outdoor dining, and the existence of this easement, for months, including with town officials.

The Roberts admit here they are motivated by a huge increase in parking for business expansion, and they say nothing about outdoor dining, which was the false bait used to sell the Measure to unsuspecting citizens. This was a point we opponents made over and over. This is about business expansion in our congested and noisy town center by bulldozing open space, not about outdoor dining. It's a real shame the Roberts don't feel the need to honor the deal they made with the town 40 years ago to preserve our last little bit of open space. So much dishonesty and bad faith.


matt from the block
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 15, 2021 at 4:26 pm
matt from the block, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2021 at 4:26 pm

Mr. Watkins:

Forgive me, but couldn't it be argued that YOU were acting in bad faith by not mentioning the easement either? When exactly did your organization find out about it? Just asking for the 1100+ voters who favored Measure A.

Anyway, the easement is another scare tactic and red herring. As noted in the article, the Town Council, Planning Commission, and ASRB are now free to do what they were elected and appointed to do: have a dialogue with residents, respond to proposed projects, and enforce our rigorous and thoughtful town codes. Personally, I fully trust them as stewards of our town. It's a shame that you don't.


awatkins
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Dec 15, 2021 at 9:04 pm
awatkins, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2021 at 9:04 pm

I’m sorry you are surprised Matt [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] You could have done the same research I did and the originators should have. It was not difficult. It was all in the Canada Corners CUP #80-81, which is the first stop any honest person would make before going on a campaign to affect how a restaurant operates.

Once again you repeat the big lie behind Measure A, that a “dialogue” and “proposed projects” could not be responded to. Everything about outdoor dining is governed by conditional use permits and none of it ever had anything to do with zoning or easements. You are still chasing the red herring that the Measure A people threw out to deceive you into voting for rezoning that was not needed for that purpose, bit which they apparently want for other reasons. I’m sorry you were suckered. I tried to tell you on NextDoor and here in the Almanac but you continue not to listen. You own that, not me.


matt from the block
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Dec 15, 2021 at 10:50 pm
matt from the block, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Mr. Watkins,

This is the first time I’ve ever commented on your efforts, and I’m not on NextDoor, so I have no idea who you’re referring to when you say you tried to tell me in the past.

Here’s what I do know: Calling people who disagree with you “ignorant” and “suckers” is probably not the best way to persuade them to join your cause, whatever that is. And I suspect that your withering, angry, condescending tone probably turned off many voters who otherwise might have been sympathetic - and ultimately cost you the election.

Congratulations on cutting off your nose to spite your face!


awatkins
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Dec 16, 2021 at 2:10 pm
awatkins, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Dec 16, 2021 at 2:10 pm

If I actually had called you either name your complaint might have some merit. You however were happy to read my mind in your first post by asserting that I don’t trust town government, which is a flagrantly false statement for which you could not possibly have any evidence. Perhaps you should follow your own rules. In any event your attempt to distract from the real issues failed.


egoldber
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 10, 2022 at 12:12 pm
egoldber, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 12:12 pm

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