With a few ballots to count, Woodside's Measure A election is a nail-biter | November 12, 2021 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - November 12, 2021

With a few ballots to count, Woodside's Measure A election is a nail-biter

by By Angela Swartz

An initiative to allow two sites in the Town Center area of Woodside to be considered for outdoor community gathering spaces had a three-vote lead (50.1%) in the latest results released Thursday, Nov. 4. Measure A requires a simple majority to pass.

The San Mateo County Elections Office reported last week that 1,150 people voted yes on the measure, while 1,147 voted no, tightening the already close race that posted a 20-vote difference on election night.

The county had just 60 votes left to count in the only two races on the Nov. 2 ballot, Measure A and the Menlo Park City School District's Measure B, according to the county's website. Some 21 of those remaining ballots were cast in the Measure A race, said Jim Irizarry, assistant chief elections officer for the county.

Measure B, a parcel tax, was leading by a comfortable margin.

"Currently, we have not received any late ballots from Woodside, and 17 of the 21 challenged ballots are signature issues," Irazarry said on Nov. 5. "Most of the remaining challenges are due to properly signed and returned envelopes which are empty and did not include a ballot."

The last day to "cure" challenged ballots is Nov. 17. A challenged ballot is one with an issue that would prevent it from being counted, which includes lateness, said Irizarry. The vast majority of the time it's due to a signature that is missing or does not match county records, or late arrivals, he said.

There is no provision in the California law for an automatic recount in any election, Irizarry said.

Someone requesting a recount needs to file an application within five days after the certification of the election. In this case, the county plans to certify the results on Nov. 19, according to its website. The requester bears all costs of the recount if the results do not change as a result, he said. Details on how much it would cost were not immediately available.

"Constructively challenging an entrenched status quo is never easy," said Alex Tauber, a "Yes on A" proponent, adding that he and fellow proponent Peter Bailey and were trying to create the conditions to have a real conversation about it. "Along with everyone who voted for Measure A, we remain hopeful and resolute that this was the right thing to do for our community."

Measure A opponent Don Pugh said in an email that he is "surprised that so many voters were beguiled into believing Measure A was about outdoor dining."

"We all like outdoor dining, and it can be done by working with the community to develop a plan," he said. "This was a power play by Bacchus (Management Group) to remove zoning restrictions to allow bulldozing the open space to build a huge parking lot, which will allow them to expand the seating, allowing them to make more money. They are a corporate entity that cares little about what is right for Woodside and only cares about their profit."

Bacchus Management, which owns The Village Bakery, has donated a total of $3,000 in cash and $2,000 in-kind donations like banners, yard signs, design and legal work to proponents of Measure A since the beginning of the year, according to campaign finance reports.

What Measure A would do

Measure A would amend current land use regulations that limit two residentially zoned pieces of land adjacent to the Town Center, a town-owned complex along Woodside Road from Whiskey Hill Road to Roberts Market that includes government buildings and commercial businesses, and Ca?ada Corners at the Ca?ada Road intersection (owned by Roberts Market). Because the rules were established by ballot measures J and 1 in 1988 and 1989, only voters can overturn the restrictions that limit future development on the sites.

The measure would make consideration possible of adding to the property behind Ca?ada Corners surface parking to accommodate permanent outdoor dining, trails and play structures, all of which are now prohibited. It would also allow for the possible construction of a public building — an amphitheater or gazebo — for community events in the residentially zoned Town Center area on a portion of a 1.65-acre plot called Village Hill. 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.

The most recent round of elections results were released after The Almanac's Tuesday afternoon press deadline. Go to almanacnews.com for the latest election news.

Email Staff Writer Angela Swartz at [email protected]

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