News

In aftermath of mountain lion exemption, Woodside residents question council and staff’s judgment

After making national news for shutting down all projects under a new state housing law by citing an exemption for mountain lion habitats, Woodside residents told the Town Council to do better.

The town froze applications for California's new split-lot law, Senate Bill 9, but reversed the decision on Feb. 6 facing a lawsuit and a warning from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Resident Bob Wilson called on the Town Council to freeze pay increases for Town Manager Kevin Bryant and Planning Director Jackie Young and conduct a full investigation into their "mishandling" of SB 9 projects in town.

One Woodside resident is calling for an investigation into the town's handling of a state housing policy. Embarcadero Media file photo.

"If there is wrongdoing, immediate consequences must follow," he said in a letter to the town. "No more handling with kid gloves for these two. Please, do not subject the citizens of this town to more embarrassment and humiliation."

Bryant clarified that the council was not voting on raises during the meeting. The council approved Bryant's raise in September 2021, effective Jan. 1, 2022, according to the staff report.

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Bryant said the council "didn't give any indication" that it would take action based on Wilson's comment.

Virginia Dare, the planning commissioner who suggested the mountain lion loophole to the Town Council, said that while the memo freezing SB 9 projects went out until Young’s name, "it was likely prepared in collaboration with others at the town," such as the town attorney and town manager.

Dare said she recognized that the statement that went out under Young's signature could have been more nuanced and could have reflected better the Town Council's decision to pause accepting SB 9 applications, adding that she's worked closely with Young since she joined the town staff. "And now as a planning commissioner, I continue to have the utmost confidence in Jackie, she is unequivocally one of the most professional and ethical people I have worked with. She also cares deeply about our town, and the welfare of the people who live in it," Dare said.

Dare said that many newspapers are trying to generate clicks on their stories and it isn't the first time "lightning rod issues" have ended up in the press. She suggested the town find a public relations expert in case an issue like this comes up in the future.

Daniel Yost, a former council member and 19-year resident of Woodside, urged the town not to support a proposed constitutional amendment that calls for more control over local land use, which came up at the same meeting as the mountain lion exemption.

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"Tonight's agenda does not include how the town can turn itself into a national punch line about wealthy communities going to extremes to avoid letting their residents add housing. What's not on tonight's agenda is the use taxpayer money to ask staff to come up with novel arguments to shirk our housing commitments, potentially opening up the town to lawsuits. And not on the agenda tonight is using the office of mayor and town council time on the dais to push a constitutional amendment designed to preempt many state laws, including civil rights laws, fair housing laws and environmental laws ..." Yost said. "Mr. Mayor, these items are not on tonight's agenda because that was the agenda for your last public meeting."

The constitutional amendment was put forth by a group called Our Neighborhood Voices, which argues that the majority of the state's land planning efforts "take away the authority of local jurisdictions to determine for themselves the land use policies and practices that best suit each city and instead imposes 'one-size fits-all' mandates that do not take into account the unique needs and challenges faced by local jurisdictions."

Mayor Dick Brown supports the amendment, and said he has been gathering signatures for the initiative. The item was tabled for a future meeting, however, following concerns raised by Councilman Ned Fluet.

"You might feel I'm being unfair to bring this up now since you've backed off some of (the SB 9 freeze)," Yost said. "There are areas where we would want to reasonably approach the state such as limiting new housing and high fire zones which makes sense to me. And I fear our recent actions have caused us to lose credibility as the town that cried wolf or mountain lion."

More on the mountain lion clause

On Jan. 25, as first reported by The Almanac, the town put an indefinite hold on all housing projects allowed under SB 9 because of a clause in the law that prohibits development in areas identified as habitats for protected species. The move came after a council study session on the same day, when the council discussed the mountain lion clause but did not formally vote on it, according to Cardinale.

Town staff consulted with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife about how to identify a habitat, according to Bryant. So far, the town has received no applications for development projects that would utilize SB 9, he said.

The department has since advised that the entire town cannot be considered habitat, said Deputy Town Attorney Kai Ruess on Feb. 6.

Yost brought up his concerns last week that the "excellent" Woodside Elementary School's enrollment figures are declining because families can't afford to move to town. The TK-8 grade public school has 365 students, Enrollment which is down almost 11% from the 2018-19 school year.

Matt Gar, who was appointed to the town’s Planning Commission during the Feb. 6 meeting, said he thought it was important to have representation from younger people in the town on the commission.

"We've seen declining enrollment; there's empty classrooms at this point," he said. "So how do we also make sure that the town is upholding some of these institutions like the elementary school, while also, you know, meeting the needs and continuing to uphold the character of the town."

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Angela Swartz
 
Angela Swartz joined The Almanac in 2018 and covers education and small towns. She has a background covering education, city politics and business. Read more >>

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In aftermath of mountain lion exemption, Woodside residents question council and staff’s judgment

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 15, 2022, 9:01 am

After making national news for shutting down all projects under a new state housing law by citing an exemption for mountain lion habitats, Woodside residents told the Town Council to do better.

The town froze applications for California's new split-lot law, Senate Bill 9, but reversed the decision on Feb. 6 facing a lawsuit and a warning from California Attorney General Rob Bonta.

Resident Bob Wilson called on the Town Council to freeze pay increases for Town Manager Kevin Bryant and Planning Director Jackie Young and conduct a full investigation into their "mishandling" of SB 9 projects in town.

"If there is wrongdoing, immediate consequences must follow," he said in a letter to the town. "No more handling with kid gloves for these two. Please, do not subject the citizens of this town to more embarrassment and humiliation."

Bryant clarified that the council was not voting on raises during the meeting. The council approved Bryant's raise in September 2021, effective Jan. 1, 2022, according to the staff report.

Bryant said the council "didn't give any indication" that it would take action based on Wilson's comment.

Virginia Dare, the planning commissioner who suggested the mountain lion loophole to the Town Council, said that while the memo freezing SB 9 projects went out until Young’s name, "it was likely prepared in collaboration with others at the town," such as the town attorney and town manager.

Dare said she recognized that the statement that went out under Young's signature could have been more nuanced and could have reflected better the Town Council's decision to pause accepting SB 9 applications, adding that she's worked closely with Young since she joined the town staff. "And now as a planning commissioner, I continue to have the utmost confidence in Jackie, she is unequivocally one of the most professional and ethical people I have worked with. She also cares deeply about our town, and the welfare of the people who live in it," Dare said.

Dare said that many newspapers are trying to generate clicks on their stories and it isn't the first time "lightning rod issues" have ended up in the press. She suggested the town find a public relations expert in case an issue like this comes up in the future.

Daniel Yost, a former council member and 19-year resident of Woodside, urged the town not to support a proposed constitutional amendment that calls for more control over local land use, which came up at the same meeting as the mountain lion exemption.

"Tonight's agenda does not include how the town can turn itself into a national punch line about wealthy communities going to extremes to avoid letting their residents add housing. What's not on tonight's agenda is the use taxpayer money to ask staff to come up with novel arguments to shirk our housing commitments, potentially opening up the town to lawsuits. And not on the agenda tonight is using the office of mayor and town council time on the dais to push a constitutional amendment designed to preempt many state laws, including civil rights laws, fair housing laws and environmental laws ..." Yost said. "Mr. Mayor, these items are not on tonight's agenda because that was the agenda for your last public meeting."

The constitutional amendment was put forth by a group called Our Neighborhood Voices, which argues that the majority of the state's land planning efforts "take away the authority of local jurisdictions to determine for themselves the land use policies and practices that best suit each city and instead imposes 'one-size fits-all' mandates that do not take into account the unique needs and challenges faced by local jurisdictions."

Mayor Dick Brown supports the amendment, and said he has been gathering signatures for the initiative. The item was tabled for a future meeting, however, following concerns raised by Councilman Ned Fluet.

"You might feel I'm being unfair to bring this up now since you've backed off some of (the SB 9 freeze)," Yost said. "There are areas where we would want to reasonably approach the state such as limiting new housing and high fire zones which makes sense to me. And I fear our recent actions have caused us to lose credibility as the town that cried wolf or mountain lion."

More on the mountain lion clause

On Jan. 25, as first reported by The Almanac, the town put an indefinite hold on all housing projects allowed under SB 9 because of a clause in the law that prohibits development in areas identified as habitats for protected species. The move came after a council study session on the same day, when the council discussed the mountain lion clause but did not formally vote on it, according to Cardinale.

Town staff consulted with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife about how to identify a habitat, according to Bryant. So far, the town has received no applications for development projects that would utilize SB 9, he said.

The department has since advised that the entire town cannot be considered habitat, said Deputy Town Attorney Kai Ruess on Feb. 6.

Yost brought up his concerns last week that the "excellent" Woodside Elementary School's enrollment figures are declining because families can't afford to move to town. The TK-8 grade public school has 365 students, Enrollment which is down almost 11% from the 2018-19 school year.

Matt Gar, who was appointed to the town’s Planning Commission during the Feb. 6 meeting, said he thought it was important to have representation from younger people in the town on the commission.

"We've seen declining enrollment; there's empty classrooms at this point," he said. "So how do we also make sure that the town is upholding some of these institutions like the elementary school, while also, you know, meeting the needs and continuing to uphold the character of the town."

Comments

CyberVoter
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:32 pm
CyberVoter, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Feb 15, 2022 at 12:32 pm

I applaud Woodside's Mayor and others for creating a dialogue as to whether SB-9 is really the "will of the people of CA", or just the will of the Super Majority of Democratic activists in Sacramento. The argument is not over Mountain Lions, but "what are we trying to do & how does this help"?
More homes per lot in Woodside will still be extremely expensive & do absolutely nothing for the homeless and lower/middle income seeking housing. It will however continue to make the Real Estate Developers, Construction Companies, Real Estate Agents and Local Tax Authorities even richer - at the demise of the Community. Should we just cancel all zoning laws?


pogo
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:22 pm
pogo, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:22 pm

I'm not about to pile on to our Town Council or Planning Commission for making an effort to resist Sacramento's take over of local zoning laws.

One of the reasons we moved to Woodside was its quiet, peaceful neighborhoods. A major reason for that is our single family zoning. Had my family wanted to move to a neighborhood with multiple family zoning, we had many other choices.

Does anyone believe that adding another home (or two, or three) to any Woodside lot is going to result in affordable housing for anyone? The same metrics - price per square foot and comparable values - is going to apply to any new home or structure. They will be just as "affordable" as any other home in Woodside.

This is an incredibly stupid law that will accomplish nothing except add unwanted density and noise to a few streets. I hope California voters put a referendum (proposition) on the ballot to overturn this absurd encroachment of Sacramento on local governmental control.

As for the declining enrollment at Woodside Elementary, other Woodside neighborhoods have been asking FOR DECADES to redistrict to that school. If WESD truly needs more students, they are there for the asking. Stop complaining - a solution to that issue is easy!


frugal
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:33 pm
frugal, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 15, 2022 at 9:33 pm

Right on pogo and Cybervoter. Woodside is one of a few cities that hasn't been ruined by overdevelopment. Woodside Council: Fight to keep it that way. Get that referendum (proposition) going. Where should we send a check?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 16, 2022 at 12:14 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 12:14 am

Instead of simply opposing SB 9 why not come up with a better idea?

How about using carbon offsets as a model and allow communities to purchase land in nearby and less expensive communities to be used at zero cost for low income housing.
If the land is made available at zero cost then the cost basis for the housing is only the construction cost.

Such a "low income housing land grant" would become the donor community's contribution to low income housing.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:32 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:32 am

Communities donating land for low income housing under the "low income housing land grant" program would retain title to the land and extend a zero cost long term lease to developers who would build and rent/sell the homes with an underlying long term land lease.

This way the donor community's contribution would be an ongoing commitment and recognized as such in future years.


Janice Selznick
Registered user
Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Feb 16, 2022 at 7:22 am
Janice Selznick, Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 7:22 am

I laud the Woodside mayor and staff for finding a creative solution around the onerous demands of SB9.

Keep up the good work.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 16, 2022 at 12:53 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 12:53 pm

But Janice the council's "creative solution" blew up in their face.

It is time for Woodside to figure out how to become a winner in the push for low income housing rather than the villain.


Matt
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Matt, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:08 pm

I'd like to point out that the reason that SB9 was created and passed is that many communities failed to do their part. This was so widespread that SB9 was passed.

As for the comment about the will of the people vs a supermajority of whatever, for better or worse we are in a representative democracy where most of our governance is done by people elected by the citizens. That's just the way it is.

Now Woodside is the lafhingstock of the nation and the poster child of entitled NIMBYism because of this overreach of the definition of mountain lion habitat.

What an embarrassment. And many here are proud of the effort? What a sad day.


dummy
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:43 pm
dummy, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Matt —
I’m puzzled why an individual living in Woodside would be enbarrassed by something town government did.

It’s impoertant to note the the governor blatantly waited until after his recall election to sign the bill. Thos strongly suggests that he doesn’t believe the majority supports it.

If you look at the long list of cities posted in another related thread you will see city governments are very opposed to the bill, since it strips them of there ability to control density in their jurisdiction. This is a profound violation of the conventional separation of powers between state and municipal government. Furthermore the bill has the almost laughable defect of supposedly targeting median or low income housing while having no provision that requires that. Thus we have the ludicrous situation in towns like Woodside where any resulting housing will be completely unaffordable to anyone without a Woodside-level income. This is simple economics any adult should understand.

What’s sad is the simplistic understanding most supporters of SB9 have of its implications, and how easily distracted they are by the Puma Habitat sideshow.

The town governments primary duty is to protect the interest of its citizens, not to assist the state government’s sloppy attempts at social engineering. Woodside town government did something legal, creative and brave in an attempt to protect us. Too bad it failed, but in broader sense it hugely increased oublic awareness of ho horrible SB9 is. So I commend the town for that, and I commend the Almanac for whipping this dead horse and keeping the public spotlight on it.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 16, 2022 at 2:14 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Peter — Woodside has a well-developed accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program designed to allow building of simple and small housing units for exactly the purpose you are after, and it is frequently used. There is not much more that can be done in area where land is worth a million dollars an acre to assist with this statewide problem. It’s just basic economics at work. If the state really wants low income housing in the few very small communties like Woodside where land is that expensive, then they are going to have to subsidize it in 6 or 7-figure amounts.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 16, 2022 at 2:14 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Peter — Woodside has a well-developed accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program designed to allow building of simple and small housing units for exactly the purpose you are after, and it is frequently used. There is not much more that can be done in area where land is worth a million dollars an acre to assist with this statewide problem. It’s just basic economics at work. If the state really wants low income housing in the few very small communties like Woodside where land is that expensive, then they are going to have to subsidize it in 6 or 7-figure amounts.


matt from the block
Registered user
Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Feb 16, 2022 at 3:25 pm
matt from the block, Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 3:25 pm

SB9 is an illogical, draconian, arguably unconstitutional law. Over 300 California towns have already voiced explicit opposition to it - most are not nearly as wealthy and privileged as Woodside. That's because the US Supreme Court long ago recognized the right of communities to set up their own local zoning laws.

Maybe the Town should have taken a different approach, but I applaud them for bringing the law's ridiculous requirements to light.

Any "shame and embarrassment" comes from Clickbait articles and ideologues who want to win on Twitter.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2022 at 6:38 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 6:38 pm

SB9 is nothing more than a cynical, ham handed attempt by legislators to look like they're "doing something" about the housing "crisis". In this area it is a complete myth that anything "affordable" can be built as the land values and the costs of construction are far too high.


Ronen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Feb 16, 2022 at 9:03 pm
Ronen, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Feb 16, 2022 at 9:03 pm

The NIMBYs are out in force, I see.

We need to build. People need houses. Not just in “other” communities. They need houses everywhere. Don’t externalize your problems. You’re enjoying the property value increases, the booming economy and the plentiful jobs. Do your share to address the issues that come with Silicon Valley’s explosive success.

Alternatively, be the laughing stock of the world, and declare yourselves a mountain lion habitat. That worked out well for you.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 17, 2022 at 6:59 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 6:59 am

Ronen:

Please explain how "affordable" housing can be built around here. I'd like to hear how you think it can be done. Remember, I'm a builder and quite familiar with the costs of construction. Go


frugal
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2022 at 7:04 am
frugal, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 7:04 am

Ronen, "Alternatively, be the laughing stock of the world, and declare yourselves a mountain lion habitat. That worked out well for you." Woodside along with 300 other cities. Woodside should be proud.
wood


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:52 am
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 11:52 am

We need more housing in the Bay Area, and all communities need to do their part. We all take risks when we purchase our homes that communities will change. Many communities have changed drastically -- think about the industrial towns in the rust belt, which have lost their industry. California and the Bay Area have a strong economy and an increasing population, and that means we need to accommodate housing of all types.

Will it be that a lot of the new housing in Woodside is necessarily affordable? Maybe less so than in Redwood City. But that doesn't mean it's less useful to increase the density of Woodside. Adding more $3-5 million homes in Woodside doesn't directly increase the housing stock for low income workers, but it does overall ease the housing burden on other communities. If we put 50 more $3-5 million homes in Woodside, that takes off pressure for those homes from Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Carlos, etc. We have to think of this as a regional challenge. The rich have to have somewhere to live (seriously!), and I don't cry over them having to live on somewhat smaller lots.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:01 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Menlo Park resident --

There is a fundamental flaw in your argument that communities of extremely expensive land should "accommodate" housing of all types provide more low cost housing. You propose to "put 50 more three-to five million dollar homes in Woodside" in order to "take pressure off" communities like Menlo Park, etc. (where you happen to live).

It would make far MORE sense to build *500* $300-500 thousand where land is far cheaper, thus *immediately and directly* housing median and low-income people, rather than waiting for the effects of 50 $multi-million homes to magically trickle down into 500 non-existent houses elsewhere.

Hard numbers and practical thinking are going to solve this problem. Vague concepts and resentment of "the rich" won't help.


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:43 pm
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 2:43 pm

Whatsit - My comment was intentionally general because it was just a comment on an article, not a detailed land use proposal. And note that I would consider myself rich, as I am able to afford a $3-5 million home. I do not resent the rich. I simply acknowledge that our larger Bay Area community needs more than just the low income housing on a large plot of land. It needs more housing for the moderately and very wealthy. We simply need a lot of housing. I'm also not planning on waiting for it to trickle down. I think that we need to fit a wide variety of housing in the Bay Area over the next years, all at the same time. More housing in Woodside (and Menlo Park, Palo Alto, etc.) is part of the solution. There are certainly NIMBYs in Menlo Park and Palo Alto as well, and I would encourage them to be open to increasing density as we recognize the needs of our area.

There's a lot of strong emotion, understandably, about the idea of Woodside -- and Menlo Park, and Palo Alto, etc. -- changing. It's a tough thing for communities to change. That doesn't mean that folks should be rude in the process of discussing these hard changes.


CyberVoter
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Feb 17, 2022 at 3:24 pm
CyberVoter, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 3:24 pm

An important issue missing in this discussion is the impact on traffic, roads & other infrastructure that many more homes will create. You will not have mass transit in Woodside, Portola Valley, etc. and the roads are already becoming more crowded as the COVID restrictions are ending. The impact on water availability, sewers, utility construction, etc. has not been well considered either.
Perhaps companies should be expanding the work forces outside of the peninsular area as an alternative. There is no "Free Lunch" or "Silver Bullet".


matt from the block
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 17, 2022 at 3:56 pm
matt from the block, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 3:56 pm

@Ronen:

I am thrilled that you are volunteering to solve the housing crisis. I expect that means you'll list your home at 20% or 30% of fair market value, just to follow through and "do your part".

Of course you won't do that! Who in their right mind would?

Affordable housing is a real issue, but SB9 does little, if anything, to actually solve it. It's virtue signaling in its highest (or lowest) form.

BTW: Most of the residents of Woodside (and our broader area) already do their part: they pay millions and millions in taxes.


Sunny Storm
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Feb 17, 2022 at 7:44 pm
Sunny Storm, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 7:44 pm

So what do the many smarty millionaires of Woodside propose to solve the huge housing demand/affordability problem at least in the local bay area?

As they say, if you're not part of the solution you're part of the problem.

(and 500 new homes is a great idea... but they have to be in short commute distance to jobs, not in the middle of no-where-land)

To the builder, I have seen MANY high quality, more affordable modular home businesses sprouting up the past decade or two. These are NOT mobile homes. They are fully compliant, frequently fire-safe, sometimes eco homes. Some are pretty nice. Others not so much. Net-net one solution is to build off-site and ship in. Lowers home-building cost a good chunk. Looks like the way of the future to me.


frugal
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 17, 2022 at 8:01 pm
frugal, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 8:01 pm

Anyone our there for limiting employment? Stop encouraging more jobs and perhaps even putting on an annual cap.


matt from the block
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 17, 2022 at 9:21 pm
matt from the block, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 17, 2022 at 9:21 pm

@Sunny Storm:

It's not up to the "many smarty millionaires of Woodside" to solve the state-wide housing crisis. My point was that it makes no sense to demand affordable housing on land that is valued so highly - no rational property owner would ever agree to sell their land for a fraction of its market value.

I strongly agree with your point that modular housing units are a great potential starting point. Boxabl, Cover, and many other startups are producing quality homes that are cheap and livable for families of 4, and take weeks to deploy. It just doesn't make any economic sense to force them onto large lots that are worth millions; the land costs are simply too high and everyone knows it.

If our elected officials were truly interested in solving the crisis, they wouldn't focus on land use restrictions at all. Instead, they would acquire industrial land parcels, incentivize developers NOT to build from ground up, and quickly deploy thousands of modular units on larger tracts. You could build neighborhoods very rapidly.

Sadly, class warfare and hollow gestures seem to rule the day.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2022 at 9:19 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 9:19 am

Sunny Storm:

I'm familiar with modular homes. They are a pretty good way to cheaply construct a home. The problem is they have to go somewhere and that somewhere costs a lot of money around here. Not to mention the foundation and utility infrastructure has to be built on site with expensive labor and materials. They're not the panacea you might think they are.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 18, 2022 at 9:47 am
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 9:47 am

“….. they have to go somewhere and that somewhere costs a lot of money around here.”

….which is exactly why it is so pointless to bully a town like Woodside into pretending to build “affordable housing” that is in fact affordable only to the wealthy because the land costs $millions/acre.


“…..and 500 new homes is a great idea... but they have to be in short commute distance to jobs”

…such as in Redwood City where land costs a fraction of that in Woodside and is literally next door.


Matt
Registered user
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 18, 2022 at 12:36 pm
Matt, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 12:36 pm

I should have known better after the Measure A debate.

The twon government is us. If I read articles correctly, and I may not have, so I apologize if I get this wrong, the Woodside Town Council took this up after a suggestion by one of our citizens.

Affordable housing isn't an absolute standard. It's based on, I think, a price that's 80% of the local median price.

Say what you will about preserving this or that. Fact is our teachers and firefighters and librarians can't afford to live here. Hell, after 20 years of appreciation I couldn't afford to move here!

There's just so much that is factually wrong in these posts. For example, the state can and does create statewide housing laws. Building codes etc. Localities can make the local ordinances more stringent, but not less. No CA supreme court decision says differently.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 18, 2022 at 1:23 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 1:23 pm

The Woodside town government comprises a few tens of people who work as staff or volunteer as council, commission, or board members. “Us” is 5,500 people who live on parcels within the town boundaries. The latter has very loose and intermittent (voting every four years, writing letters, etc.) influence or control over the former. The two are not at all equivalent. To say they are just muddies the discussion.

The letter in question was signed by the planning director. No town council resolution requested it.

“Affordable Housing” is an absolute standard. See for example Web Link

It is in no way derived from market values.

The state governs building codes. SB9 overrides land-use and zoning ordinances, in for example calling for ministerial lot splits. The state has never, before SB9, done this so drastically and simple-mindedly, and land-use and zoning ordinances are in no way equivalent or analogous to building codes.


gtspencer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Feb 18, 2022 at 4:28 pm
gtspencer, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Hey I'd like to live in Woodside and have a state subsidized mortgage. Just because you have trouble affording a house doesn't mean you get to slide into neighborhoods that are "expensive". Stop punishing people who work hard for what they own. I used the GI Bill to help buy mine. It's a novel idea......


Janet Chen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2022 at 5:09 pm
Janet Chen, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 5:09 pm

To all NIMBYs,

Don't bring up anything about affordability requirements on fourplex unless you are willing to sell your home at the price you bought it at plus inflation.

NIMBYs worried about parking and cars, we will bring density to all neighborhoods across the bay area.

You are not living in boondocks. This is silicon valley and we will allow it to be built dense amd hyperconnect it with public transit.

If you don't like that, sell and move but cities will need to be like cities.

Flood the market with dense climate responsible supply and affordability will come naturally. And that's what's coming.

And a prop 13 repeal next. Sprawl does not come cheap.


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 18, 2022 at 6:53 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 6:53 pm

Pretty tough talk. Who’s “we” and how are you going to fund that?


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Feb 18, 2022 at 8:09 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 8:09 pm

Janet:

I don't care if you put fourplexes in, they still won't be affordable. They land they will sit on is too expensive.


frugal
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 18, 2022 at 8:41 pm
frugal, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Feb 18, 2022 at 8:41 pm

Janet, flood the market with affordable housing and more employers will move it and fill them up until such time as we flood the market again...and again... You who want more density can you please tell me what am I missing? Janet, what's wrong with my theory. Or Matt of Woodside, how about you?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 19, 2022 at 12:16 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 19, 2022 at 12:16 am

Woodside has the opportunity to take leadership on the low income housing issue.


1 - Float a $50 million 30 year bond to finance "low income housing land grants",

2 - Purchase multiple sites in nearby communities that are suitable for low income housing,

3 - Issue RFPs for developers to build low income housing on those sites with zero cost for the land,

4 - Woodside would retain ownership of the land and extend long term leases to the developers who would rent or sell the homes that they build,

5 - A condition of the grants would be that the developers provide shuttle services to/from the sites to Woodside.

I am sure others can expand/improve this proposal.


gtspencer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm
gtspencer, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2022 at 3:31 pm

Provide shuttles to transport the workers back to flatlands where they can do their menial jobs. Sounds like socialism. Let's all be honest... who really wants low income housing in their neighborhoods and shuttles going back and forth all day???


Whatsit
Registered user
Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 21, 2022 at 8:47 pm
Whatsit, Woodside: Mountain Home Road
Registered user
on Feb 21, 2022 at 8:47 pm

Peter —
1. Why does Woodside want to “take leadership?”. Woodside’s job to serve its citizens.
2. Why do you want shuttles going to/from Woodside? Who is going to want to ride to/from a town of 5,500?
3. If this makes sense, why wouldn’t the cities where the land is do this? For example, where you are in Menlo Park?


Sunny Storm
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Feb 22, 2022 at 1:48 pm
Sunny Storm, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2022 at 1:48 pm

So I checked the cost per sq ft of recently sold land in Woodside and RWC.

Woodside land is cheaper. 41 dollars per sq ft compared to a range of 30 to 287 dollars per square ft in RWC.

See, woodside is more affordable for development!

(as long as you don't put a $ on the time it takes to get projects through the planning dept and asrb)


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 22, 2022 at 7:23 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 22, 2022 at 7:23 pm

"Peter —
1. Why does Woodside want to “take leadership?”. Woodside’s job to serve its citizens."

Because Woodside is going to be under continuing pressure to make some contribution to affordable housing.


"2. Why do you want shuttles going to/from Woodside? Who is going to want to ride to/from a town of 5,500?"

The people who perform service jobs in Woodside but who cannot afford to live there.

'3. If this makes sense, why wouldn’t the cities where the land is do this? For example, where you are in Menlo Park?"

Because those cities cannot afford to donate land at no cost for the development of affordable housing.


Robert Cronin
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2022 at 9:27 pm
Robert Cronin, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2022 at 9:27 pm

Our lightly regulated free enterprise system seems to work fairly well except for housing and health care. Why is this, and what can we do about it?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 23, 2022 at 9:38 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2022 at 9:38 pm

Robert -
"Liberty and duty, freedom and responsibility. That's the deal." John W. Gardner

We need to recognize that our individual success obligates us to help those who have not been given the opportunities that provided us with our privileges.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 23, 2022 at 10:21 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 23, 2022 at 10:21 pm

While we argue over an acre here and an acre there, let's talk about the elephant in the room

Stanford University is a taxpayer-subsidized tax-free nonprofit that owns over 8,000 acres of the most prime real estate in the world, at the epicenter of the worst affordable housing crisis in our country with an endowment of $37B,
They have the land, the money and I would argue the tax-free status responsibility to solve this problem locally and be an example to the rest of the Country,
They could easily retain ownership of the land and build enough housing to solve this problem,


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:48 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:48 am

Given its huge stock of student housing Stanford provides far more affordable housing than do all of its surrounding neighboring communities combined.


CyberVoter
Registered user
Atherton: other
on Feb 24, 2022 at 3:49 pm
CyberVoter, Atherton: other
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Westbrook:

Thanks for raising this point! Stanford has the land & the financial resources to address this problem in a large way! It would require them to shift from a pure money making development policy (retail). They should "step up to the plate" and work with the community to solve the problem.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 24, 2022 at 3:59 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 3:59 pm

"Step up to the plate..."

Stanford has already hit a home run on housing!

Stanford provides ten times more housing for its employees than ALL of the other employers on the peninsula combined -including all the local governments. And a lot of that housing is provided at below market rates.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:19 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:19 pm

Per the Mercury News 11/4/19,
Stanford was not required to pay property taxes on $13.3 billion of its holdings during the 2018 fiscal year, according to data from the Santa Clara County Assessor’s Office, which determines what Stanford’s exempt properties would be worth if they were taxed. It’s the largest exemption in "Any County in California". Add a likely 30-50% more as of 2022,
As a result, local schools are missing out on tax dollars — even though they must make room in their classrooms for children who live in Stanford’s tax-exempt rental housing, and yes I'm aware Stanford paid a one-time school fee of $10M, pennies over the long term,
Any way you cut it Peter, Stanford does not pay their fair share,
They have created a jobs-housing imbalance all by themselves,
Time to pay up Stanford, Where are our local leaders calling for fairness and responsibility,
And Stanford fancies themselves a bit of a progressive University and culture,


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:38 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:38 pm

Peter quote your source, there's something wrong with how that statistic is skewed, My guess is very few if any employers provide any direct housing to employees, Sort of a bogus comparison,
You might want to ask how much Local Housing Stock is taken up by University students, professors, University and Hospital staff etc. I used to rent to Stanford students, professors and employees, They put upward price pressure on the limited housing stock, Ask any landlord,
Plus they have the land, the money and should have the desire to help their students/employees and soften the blow for other locals trying to rent and buy. Thereby being a good Steward of their good fortune,
and Yes Stanford puts pressure on the limited housing stock for sale also by buying existing units, single-family and multi-family units and taking them off the market permanently. Typically the housing stock turns over every 5-7 years. Not Stanford owned units,


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:54 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 24, 2022 at 6:54 pm

Stanford should do this not because they have to but because they want to,


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 25, 2022 at 6:59 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2022 at 6:59 am

Woodside, Menlo Park and Palo Alto should do this not only because they legally have to but also because they want to do it.


David B
Registered user
Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Feb 25, 2022 at 12:25 pm
David B, Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2022 at 12:25 pm

@Westbrook Stanford is trying to do exactly what you propose... build 39 townhouses on 70 acres they own in Portola Valley, for faculty and workers. And the NIMBY types in PV are pulling out all the stops to oppose it... fire risk, earthquake, traffic, indian relics, view corridors, rural character of the community, etc. (not mountain lions... yet).

"Now that I have my little piece of heaven, let's keep everyone else out". AARRGGHH.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 25, 2022 at 2:31 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Peter I do not envy nor do I criticize Stanford for their success, Indeed I laud them, but as per your quote from Gardner of which I take literary license,

"Stanford needs to recognize that their individual success obligates them to help those who have not been given the opportunities that provided them with their privileges".


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 25, 2022 at 3:38 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Feb 25, 2022 at 3:38 pm

Westbrook - I agree and add:

"Stanford/Woodside/Menlo Park/Palo Alto need to recognize that their individual success obligates them to help those who have not been given the opportunities that provided them with their privileges".


Michael
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 1, 2022 at 11:49 am
Michael, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Mar 1, 2022 at 11:49 am

The issue is Nearly two-thirds of all the residences in California are single-family homes. And as much as three-quarters of the developable land in the state is now zoned only for single-family housing, according to UC Berkeley research. So whether or not we use SB9 to try make Woodside people share space is not the main goal. I'm personally working on plans to demo my Willows home and build 2 homes on it.


Michael
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 1, 2022 at 11:52 am
Michael, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Mar 1, 2022 at 11:52 am

@robert cronin that's some top tier stand up comedy you got there ;)


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