Atherton's Parker Avenue has some of the smallest lots in the town, most less than 8,000 square feet, and one of the widest streets, with the official town right-of-way extending 50 feet beyond the 20-foot paved roadway.
For years, residents of Parker have used much of that right-of-way as if it were part of their property, and now, after complaints from some Parker Avenue neighbors, the town is trying to do something about it.
Residents can't agree about what they want done, however.
The town has offered three options: to abandon 30 feet of its 70-foot right-of-way, which would increase each lot by 900 square feet; to develop an encroachment permit process to allow some of the homeowners' improvements to remain where they are; or to make all homeowners remove any improvements they've made that aren't on their own property.
At their May 21 meeting, Atherton City Council members heard from many of the Parker Avenue residents, most of whom did not want the additional property taxes that would come with the town's gift of 900 square feet of property.
Because of the disagreement, council members asked City Manager George Rodericks to send registered letters to the owners of each house on the street asking what their preferred solution is. Town Attorney William Conners said the town cannot abandon the right-of-way in a piecemeal fashion; but it could possibly be done for sections of the street.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that the county tax assessor's office says it cannot legally say how much any additional property taxes would be.
In other business, the council declined for a second time to endorse the Atherton Dames' project to renovate the historic carriage house in Holbrook-Palmer Park. At an April 16 meeting, the council asked the Dames and their architect, Adolph Rosecrans of Woodside, to answer more questions about the plans and about the current state of the building.
With those questions answered, the council asked at the May 21 meeting for the Dames to attempt to find out what the public wants for the building. Some council members also expressed interest in waiting for completion of the park master plan before deciding what to do with the carriage house.
The council agreed to purchase an automated video camera system to record council and other public meetings, replacing the videographer who now records each council meeting. The new equipment will cost slightly more than the $25,200 now spent on hiring the videographer for a year.