Woodside: Emergency access solution in the works for Skywood Acres neighborhood | July 18, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - July 18, 2018

Woodside: Emergency access solution in the works for Skywood Acres neighborhood

by Dave Boyce

A resolution is in the works to relieve the difficulties for residents entering or leaving the neighborhood of Skywood Acres in Woodside during emergencies, and for neighborhood children making their way safely to and from the school bus.

Woodside's Architectural and Site Review Board on July 9 unanimously approved an application for a gate permit requested by the owner of 125 Stadler Drive, a site that is key to resolving the matter.

A memorandum of understanding included with the application lays out a plan for two new electronically controlled vehicular gates at 125 Stadler Drive that neighborhood residents, using an electronic key, will be able to open and drive through during emergencies, even though the gates cross a private driveway.

The same memo sets conditions to allow children to use two new pedestrian gates that will be built at the same location until the town has improved an equestrian path nearby to make it safe for walking in all weather conditions. The Town Council on July 10 gave the green light to staff to proceed with the trail work.

There is one catch: Before a resident can open the vehicular gates, a public authority — from law enforcement, the local firefighting agency or Town Hall — must first activate the electronic locks, a step that can be taken remotely, the memo says.

Skywood Acres is home to some 70 to 80 households in the dappled sunshine on a wooded hillside just north of La Honda Road and just east of Skyline Boulevard. There has been just one way in and out of the neighborhood — via Skywood Way at La Honda Road — since October 2016. At that time, someone — it's not known who — locked closed an old gate on Stadler Drive that had been open to allow informal passage for vehicles and pedestrians, including schoolchildren.

Residents will have the right to use the Stadler Drive vehicular gates only if one or more key intersections in the area are "blocked, gridlocked, overwhelmed or otherwise inaccessible," the memo says.

In addition to the gates on Stadler, another way into and out of the neighborhood is nearly complete.

The town recently improved a site at the western end of Skywood Way and installed a gate opening onto Skyline Boulevard. The new gate is technically for emergency access only, but residents will be able to make exclusive use of it when they have an electronic lock installed at their expense. The gate will not open for passing traffic trying to cut through the neighborhood so as to bypass La Honda Road.

Walking to the bus

In creating a safe route to and from the school bus, the memo assigns to the town the responsibility of improving an equestrian trail that runs along Skyline Boulevard, an arterial often subject to high-speed traffic. The trail connects Skywood Acres to the Skywood Trading Post commercial district, where the school bus picks up and drops off some 20 to 30 neighborhood children.

Until the town levels the trail, adds base rock as needed, and covers it with a layer of decomposed granite to produce a "durable, relatively even, all-weather bed," children and other pedestrians are allowed to use the new pedestrian gates at 125 Stadler Drive , according to the memo.

If the gates' owners do not adhere to the terms of the memo, the town can issue a municipal code violation and/or a restraining order requiring access for the residents. The residents also have the right to sue for enforcement of the terms.

In an emailed comment, David Madrid, a resident, attorney and negotiator on behalf of the residents, commended two of Woodside's council members — Tom Livermore and Mayor Chris Shaw — and Town Manager Kevin Bryant for engaging with residents and working out a deal with Skywood Way and Stadler Drive property owners.

"Our view that government works best when it serves to bring folks together appears to have been vindicated in this specific instance," Madrid said.

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