Woodside council acquiesces to complaints about ideas for downtown's future


The Woodside Town Council on Tuesday night (Oct. 29) spent a couple of hours considering whether to hire a professional facilitator to guide the community through a public effort to address issues such as the unavailability of a parking space and severe downtown traffic jams. An observer looking in a window of Independence Hall would have picked up on an atmosphere of distrust, would have heard repeated demands for reassurance, and would even have witnessed a touch of civil disobedience.

And had he or she decided to go inside so as to have a more complete experience, there would not have been a place to sit down, and hardly room to stand.

In an hour of vociferous and possibly orchestrated public comment, residents rose to demand that the council take out of any consideration a multi-tier parking garage, any notion of widening the roads, and any maps showing an expansion of the Town Center area. These ideas and others like them had been broached during brainstorming sessions in community meetings in the spring.

Residents also demanded that the decades-old voter-approved measures J and 1, enacted to limit the growth of the downtown area, be protected from amendment. And they did not want an outsider, professional qualifications notwithstanding, to facilitate the town's deliberations on the future of their downtown.

"Remove the items that are highly controversial," said resident Greg Raleigh, who began by saying that he would exceed his allotted three minutes to speak. When notified that his time had expired, he continued speaking and turned to the audience to display a map of a proposed expanded Town Center.

The next speaker yielded his time to Mr. Raleigh. At one point, he got into an argument with Mayor Anne Kasten, who was instructing him on parliamentary procedure and he responded: "This is the attitude that has people so upset. You keep telling us this isn't important. It's important to us. It's my time to talk. Sometimes I'm a little angry. ... Please remove those things so we don't have to keep worrying about it."

Throughout the public comment period, punctuated occasionally by residents who spoke in support of brainstorming, anxious residents began their remarks with statements of support for the substance of Mr. Raleigh's concern, then sat down to outbursts of applause.

Mr. Raleigh apologized to the mayor after the meeting, Ms. Kasten told the Almanac.

The ideas under protest had come up during several wide-ranging brainstorming sessions in the spring. The topics of greatest concern had been parking and traffic circulation, but there were mentions of public restrooms, water fountains, receptacles for recycling, parking for bicycles, and burying utility lines that are now overhead.

The option of safely walking or biking to school came up repeatedly and is a priority upon which there was general agreement.

When the public comment period came to an end, the council agreed to a motion by Councilman Tom Shanahan that included removing from all consideration a multi-tier parking garage, changes to the width or arrangement of the roads, and residential uses within the downtown area. The vote was 6-0, with Councilman Peter Mason absent.

The council was not dissuaded from plans for hiring a facilitator, and two facilitated community meetings are tentatively scheduled for Saturdays in February and March 2014.

As for Measure J, slight modifications may be necessary to accomplish goals, but would have to be approved by voters.

After yet another round of applause, the room emptied.


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Posted by awoodsideresident
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm

The fact that the "town" council even considered building a parking structure has me wonder if the council members actually *live* in Woodside. Not just have a residence in Woodside, but *live* here.

Thank you to all residents which were able to attend to Greg Raleigh for voicing what most of us feel.

I hope there is a bench added downtown with Greg's name on it!

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Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

For the record, the Town Council did not consider building a parking structure. That idea came up during a community brainstorming session in the spring, a forum for ideas.

Actual plans, if any, are expected to come later, after the community acquires a firm set of goals via a set of facilitated community meetings, town officials have said.

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Posted by Wdsd Res.
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm

@Dave Boyce, "possibly orchestrated public comment" ?? On what grounds do you base this bit of editorializing? If you were more informed of the nature of Wdsd residents, you would know that we are a rather independent lot, who are not all that susceptible to being "orchestrated". Just because we love our town and want it to remain rural, does not mean anything other than just that.
Save the snarky comments for the editorial page, please.

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Posted by henriksen, high road
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm

the Tuesday evening town council meeting regrettably turned into a deplorable and unfortunate attack on the town council.
The town council had never proposed or even considered a parking structure, nor any changes to measure J, nor had the council ever proposed any use of imminent domain to enlarge the town center.
Greg Raleigh should in stead reach out to get the facts before he makes ugly
accusations without any substance.

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Posted by 40 year resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm

"...ideas for downtown's future"?

Woodside doesn't have a *downtown*. It has a village center.

Village centers don't have stacked parking structures.

Why do most Woodside residents consider Town staff(contracted) and Council/ARB members out of touch? Current example.

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 30, 2013 at 8:41 pm

You can't please all the people...

Everyone, including the Town Council and Committee, was on precisely the same page. This was manufactured outrage. A calm discussion would have accomplished the same goal without the drama.

Some of you are missing your calling in Washington, DC.

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Posted by WS homeowner
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 31, 2013 at 4:41 am

I am not sure Raleigh and his cohorts speak for me or most Woodside homeowners the majority of whom were not there. As is typical those most offended are most likely to show up. I could not, however I would be interested in widening the roads to alleviate traffic and make it safer for bicyclists and kids going to school. it seems like a sensible alternative. Progress is inevitable to prevent the chaos we now have. I know there is a minority who strongly object to change, but change must happen and will or things will only get worse for everyone. Also a multilevel parking garage seems sensible and would have the least impact on the surrounding land. There is simply not enough parking, it gets worse every year. Rather than kill ideas I would like to see Mr. Raleigh's load mouth offer viable alternatives.

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Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Oct 31, 2013 at 5:00 am

We were lucky several dozen Woodside residents had the courage to stand up to mayor kasten's pressure tactics. The first speaker held up a poster showing the suggested massive expansion of Woodside Town center to five times the land area town center occupies today (!!) through a government incorporation of 60 large residential lots. Other proposed suggestions included: government purchase of a portion (how many?) of the 60 newly incorporated lots, multi story parking with high density housing (potentially on the new lots), and radically altering Woodside and Canada roads to turn them into big urban thoroughfares, These terrible suggestions, if allowed to proceed forward, could have become a huge project that would someday destroy the small town, rural charcter of Woodside. There is a ton of community support for other suggestions like safe walking routes to school and better biking lanes and hores trails, but the community could not progress on these things because the Council kept refusing to remove the highly contentious items from the package of suggestions. This meeting was the first time the Council listened to their voters since the Town publishedl the package of suggestions 5 months ago. Too bad it took so long and so many residents had to attend the meeting to get the point accross - the Council should have recognized how bad the ideas were on their own and removed them when they first saw the community concern they generated.

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:10 am

Woodsider -

The way our legislative process works is that the Town Council holds a meeting to receive public input. They do not decide these issues in private or before the public meeting. AFTER the council receives input, they vote, not before.

The vote was 6-0 rejecting the suggestions. 6-0! Could it be any clearer than that?

As I said, everyone was on the same page and no one wanted the development that a few people suggested. There was simply no need for the drama.

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Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 31, 2013 at 10:17 am

WS homeowner I think you are in the minority on these issues. The town has always been crowded on weekends and will continue and will continue to be. As far as safety how many children or adults have been injured walking? This town does not need a 2 story parking garage. As I said I think you are in the minority.

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Posted by Woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Nov 1, 2013 at 2:19 am

Pogo - I respect your opinion and i totally agree that it's a huge relief that the council voted to not give further consideration to all the crazy and damaging ideas. However, for me, waiting for 4 more months for an out of town conultant to come on board while we continue to wonder whether or not our town might be messed up would have very nerve wracking. I'm just really grateful they voted to put things at ease again in our wondeful town :)

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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 1, 2013 at 10:22 am

Woodsider -

Thank you for your kind comment.

I don't think anyone on the Town Council wants to materially change the character of our town. Unfortunately, they cannot vote on an issue before the public hearing.

I am also very gratified with the result!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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