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Woodside may allow 65% of basement to extend beyond structure above it

Original post made on Mar 2, 2016

If regulations on basement size now under consideration by the Woodside Town Council are adopted, they would allow soil to be removed from some sites that would fill Independence Hall, where the council meets, more than five times.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 2, 2016, 9:59 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by Patient Observer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 2, 2016 at 12:17 pm

"Resident Susan Crocker complained from the audience about three feet of earth not being enough. "What can you grow in three feet?" she asked."

Really Susan? A better question might be what cannot be grown in three feet.

This is part of the reason it's so hard to get reasonable land-use policies and ordinances in Woodside; our time and the town's time is wasted with [part removed] rhetorical questions like Susan's.

Posted by Underground YES
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 2, 2016 at 5:43 pm

I'll offer (maybe?) a different perspective on the issue... I think we agree that in most instances, the desire of the owner/builder is to maximize the amount of "house" (living space, accessory buildings, garage, etc.) that they can build on their property. This runs counter to the desire and wishes of neighbors and the greater community who want to minimize the size of the "house" relative to the size of the lot; in part to maintain the aesthetic norm of Woodside.

To keep these conflicting interest in check, cities have long established rules governing these issues (set-backs, sensible lot coverage ratios, height limits, etc.) What's new is that improved building materials and construction methods now allow the construction of large underground living spaces. This tips the advantage to the owner but with a much more intensive, disruptive, and longer period of construction.

As I see it, the trade off is that if basements are significantly restricted, then owners will revisit the size and design of the "above ground" structure to maximize their size and utility beyond what they might consider if they had more flexible allowances for basements. For all intensive purposes, after the dust clears and the construction trucks drive away, we quickly forget the once hole in the ground, and are only affected by the above-ground structures. To that end, I have no problem allowing for larger basements. I rather have that that an above ground home that is 100% maximized for lot coverage, height and built right to the set backs.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 2, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Well stated Underground Yes. It's subterranean square footage. No one sees it and it has no visual impact on the property.

Posted by YouFoolYourselves
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 3, 2016 at 7:49 pm

You Menlo Park posters fool yourselves. While most residents (95% of those building or adding on) do not desire an outsize behemoth as a residence, the small percentage of overlords who DO want to push the limits want BOTH the maximum house size AND the maximum possible basement size. Atherton last year reduced its allowable basement grading numbers and they are far smaller than what Woodside is proposing. And the council made that decision because outsize grading increases build time by about a year, and adds significant infrastructure cost. Neighbors and neighborhoods suffer.

The current Woodside council has leaned to the dark side. The original proposal by the Zoning Subcommittee was for a generous allowance of 50%. One new council member proposed 75%! Why even bother to keep 25% within the footprint?

A proposal to allow 65% of the basement to occur outside the footprint of the house doesn't even stay within the definition of basement. This is all fallout of the recent extreme property rights cohort flexing their muscle. Woodside, why even bother with a new ordinance - continue the palaver. The result is the same as if you do nothing to update the ordinances.

Posted by ShameOnYou
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Mar 3, 2016 at 8:27 pm

This publication allows hateful misogynistic posts about solid citizens like FORMER MAYOR Susan Crocker. If I remember correctly, this was a widely used tactic during Woodside's recent election when anonymous posters maligned three women on the architectural commission.

Read the comments, Almanac - you are the mouthpiece for a very ugly segment of our local society. NOT a majority, NOT a faction that should be allowed to continue to proliferate their hatred of female volunteers.

I'll post anonymously to avoid being harassed by your readers,

Posted by Nancy Reyering
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Last year, Atherton changed their basement regulations to reduce the maximum allowable size from 130% of the floor area of the 1st floor to 120% of the floor area of the first floor.

I spoke with the Planning Staff in Atherton and learned the reason for the change was impact to roads and neighborhoods. Large basements increase design and build times by as much as a year. The cost to infrastructure is great, and the impact to quality of life is severe.

At ASRB meetings we have not infrequently heard neighbors complain about length of construction times.

And in Woodside, our very special infrastructure, which consists of many rural, steep, and winding roads, is particularly impacted.

Many residences in town are 50, 60 years old, and older. New owners naturally want to rebuild. In order to preserve our quality of life, we need to have regulations which reflect both the needs of applicants, and the peaceful enjoyment of property for those who already live here.

The Zoning Subcommittee proposal of 150% of the floor area of the residence as an OUTSIDE MAX was very generous.

Council, please help rein this proposed ordinance update back in.

Thank you,

Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 9, 2016 at 3:51 pm

It does not seem particularly useful to me to compare the volume of soil that can be removed to the scale of Woodside's Independence Hall. Much more relevant is to consider the policy implications in terms of dump truck out haul.

Google tells me that a large dump truck might carry about 12 yards of soil on average, so removing 2695 yards of soil translates to the equivalent of about 225 large dump truck trips.

That does seem like a pretty big number to me, especially if the front loader delivers its auditory beeping every time it backs up in the process of filling the truck.

Anyway, something to consider....

Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Mar 11, 2016 at 7:25 pm

So, the current proposal in front of the town council is capping basements based upon maximum residence size for a particular district. Essentially 3,000 sqft, 4,000 sqft, or 6,000 sqft - depending on the district in question.

The formula is to take the square footage allowed, multiply by 12, and divide by 27 which gives one the allowable total cubic volume for a basement. This is dependent on the district and regardless of the actual residence square footage. If you want a maximum basement underneath a 800 sqft house on Mountain Home, so be it. I think the maximum depth being discussed is 22', but still confined by the size limitations.

What the town council should be looking at is how to off-set the damage to the roads by all construction - not just basements.

Posted by what about trees
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 12, 2016 at 9:46 am

Enormous basements have negative impacts on tree roots. This is crazy

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