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Woodside freezes SB 9 projects, citing an exemption for mountain lion habitats

Original post made on Feb 2, 2022

The town of Woodside is blocking new housing from being built under a new state law, arguing the residential growth would encroach on the habitats of mountain lions, a protected species.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 2, 2022, 10:25 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 2, 2022 at 12:52 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Well played.


Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2022 at 1:41 pm

new guy is a registered user.

Any chance MP could use the same argument... I mean truth. We have mountain lions sighted in MP after all.


Posted by tt
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2022 at 2:36 pm

tt is a registered user.

Excellent work! We cannot allow the State to dictate measures that will threaten our wildlife further than already is the case!


Posted by LadyHawk
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Feb 2, 2022 at 4:11 pm

LadyHawk is a registered user.

Well done Woodside. Wish we in Portola Valley had thought of that first.


Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 2, 2022 at 5:48 pm

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“ When asked if critics would argue invoking the clause is a ploy to avoid having to build more housing, …” What ploy? Did we fabricate all the local mountain lions? I have videos of them on my property.

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment/personal attack]


Posted by Drew Levitt
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2022 at 6:14 pm

Drew Levitt is a registered user.

Mayor Brown says: "Every house that's built is one more acre taken away from (mountain lions') habitat." But this is only true of new (greenfield) development. SB 9, per Gibson Dunn, facilitates the process for homeowners to subdivide their current residential lot or build a duplex. Web Link Emphasis on *current residential lot*. One may support or oppose SB 9 for a variety of reasons, but blaming it for wildlife habitat encroachment feels disingenuous.


Posted by Drew Levitt
a resident of another community
on Feb 2, 2022 at 7:03 pm

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Mayor Brown said, "Every house that's built is one more acre taken away from (mountain lions') habitat." But this is only true of new (greenfield) development. Per Gibson Dunn analysis, SB 9 "facilitates the process for homeowners to subdivide their current residential lot or build a duplex." Emphasis on *current residential lot*. One may of course support or oppose SB 9 for a variety of reasons, but SB 9 is explicitly about increasing the land use intensity of already-developed parcels. As such, it seems disingenuous to blame SB 9 for wildlife habitat encroachment.


Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 2, 2022 at 7:30 pm

awatkins is a registered user.

Drew — you are missing the fact that Woodside, which is entirely developed parcels, and whose poulation has n caged since 1980, is also entirely a wildlfe habitat. So every new building subtracts from that habitat.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Stuart
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 2, 2022 at 9:10 pm

Stuart is a registered user.

[Portion removed.]

Drew, SB9 applies to almost any lot or lot size - developed or not. True, there are not too many undeveloped lots in Woodside, but development on a particular lot does not preclude a ministerial approval to split the lot and create two saleable lots with two houses and two ADU's.

Happy the SB9 abomination is (temporarily) stopped, but it is only a matter of time before Scott Wiener pitches a fit to get the exemption removed from the language of the law. Adios habitat.


Posted by House Wnated
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 3, 2022 at 1:04 am

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Surely the ranches and mansions impact the habitat more than a few duplexes?

This seems like my neighbors are simply begging for the state to step in and strong-arm the situation rather than comply with a minor measure to make our areas more liveable for the various people that live/work here.

With age comes a certain... narrow-mindedness... that unfortunately makes a target. Common sense will prevail here, but that will not save us from being laughed at mercilessly. C'est la vie.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 1:28 am

Westbrook is a registered user.

Any lot splits would allow up to 2 units per parcel, One of the units can only be an ADU or a supposed duplex. Once a lot split occurs those affected parcels under written recorded affidavit can never be split again, The town's current front side and rear setbacks are still in effect. They are very restrictive, Check with your own community for exact details. Also if you perform a lot split you must then under a recorded, penalty of perjury agreement are mandated to live in one of the new structures for a minimum of 3 years. That will leave out all developers/speculators.
Not so simple, Atherton is estimating 4-5 lot splits per Year under SB9,
Do you really think anyone will build a duplex in Woodside?
Also if any part of the parcels/structures has been rented anytime during the last 3 years you are precluded from doing a lot split. There's more suggest everyone read the bill,


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 1:45 am

Westbrook is a registered user.

Woodside Mayor Dick Brown
"We're very interested in creating more housing alternatives; we're not trying to shut anything down," he said. "We just don't want to have somebody in Sacramento saying we have to put a multistory high-rise in a rural community."
" Pretty soon we'll have paved asphalt with no animals or birds"
Really Dick have you even read the bill, Town height restrictions still apply under SB9 units, maximum sq. ft. 800 sq. ft. no basements,
Disinformation, and all asphalt, in Woodside come on Dick.


Posted by SL
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 8:45 am

SL is a registered user.

Kudos for coming up with so far the most cynical NIMBY ploy, gotta keep those low-7-figure riff raff out somehow. Shameful.


Posted by BayAreaBorn
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Feb 3, 2022 at 9:29 am

BayAreaBorn is a registered user.

WSJ article today illustrates the shameful hypocrisy in Woodside. Woodside officials just allowed construction of a brand new $110M, five-building estate. This is the most expensive home for sale IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES. Meanwhile, these very officials are eager to block affordable housing construction on behalf of Mountain Lions. Clearly they only care about "keeping out the riff raff" as they allow rich residents to pave as much habitat as they please. Unconscionable NIMBYism at its worst.


Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 9:51 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

If Woodside residents were smart, they would blow up all roads into and out of their town so no more new home construction would occur. Many of them already have helicopters. Problem solved.


Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 3, 2022 at 9:56 am

Joseph E. Davis is a registered user.

I support any attempt to block the execrable SB9 law which will bring 4X density increase to every neighborhood (split lot, then 2 dwellings per lot).


Posted by Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2022 at 10:15 am

Parent is a registered user.

Just for general discussion ... assume a Woodside parcel was split and four residences were built.

What is your best guess as to the list price for each unit? Would $3 million, per unit, be a fair guess?

If so, what kind of family can afford a $3 million dollar home? Doesn't this imply something akin to a 1 million dollar down payment and a 2 million dollar mortgage? This seems a bit out of the "affordable housing" zone, and does little to resolve a "housing crisis".

The word "crisis" is used in all sorts of arguments nowadays, I suppose the idea is to convince listeners that imminent harm is near.

Because "crisis" is such a punchy word, may I suggest that Woodside (and Menlo Park, and Atherton) have a "wildlife habitat erosion crisis", a "mountain lion habitat erosion crisis" and a "pollinator habitat erosion crisis".

I'm probably missing a few more "crisis" items. Can we get a few more from the audience? "Tree crisis", "California native plant crisis" ?




Posted by Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2022 at 10:27 am

Parent is a registered user.

BayAreaBorn, when you state "This is the most expensive home for sale IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES.".

Are you familiar with Google searches?

Just for fun, enter the search term "most expensive home for sale IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES".

But ... you don't have to use all caps.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 3, 2022 at 4:55 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

The residents of Woodside are fortunate to have leaders who are thinking about what is best for their community. So much better than rolling over for every developer who walks in the door, or focusing on people who might want to live here but -- for whatever reason -- don't.

Resident needs and preferences should come first.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 6:34 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Frozen Have you read the bill,

Re; speculators/developers "developers" as you call them would have to live in one of the new houses built for at least 3 years. and thats after spending 1 1/2 years getting it built,
No developer is going to do that, Very few if any homeowners could afford to do that,

Any unit built on the split lot has to be an ADU, with sq. ft., setbacks and height restrictions. Look at your towns building codes

No developer is going to do that.

Re; high rises being built as per Dick Brown, The same height limit on the cities books now would apply to any new unit built under SB9,


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 6:44 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Drew, SB9 applies to almost any lot or lot size - developed or not. True, there are not too many undeveloped lots in Woodside, but development on a particular lot does not preclude a ministerial approval to split the lot and create two "saleable "lots with two houses and two ADU's. "WRONG AGAIN"

Drew, you would have to live in one of the newly built houses for at least 3 years before you can sell it. Practical for a speculator? I think not,

Have you read the bill?


Posted by Jon
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 7:37 pm

Jon is a registered user.

Yeah, the assumption is a duplex is a well defined thing. But a duplex built on a 5 acre parcel of land by splitting it into one 2 acre parcel and one 3 acre parcel is not exactly what would typically be considered a duplex. There could be more problems without the free space on the original 5 acre parcel, so far as wildlife habitats go. Woodside is a city with many large rural parcels. SB9 applied to them just as if they were close together cases of 10 parcels per acre, where now 20 would potentially be allowed.


Posted by Jon
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 7:41 pm

Jon is a registered user.

The speculator would make a deal with a current owner wishing to sell. The current owner signs up that they "intend" to remain in their current house for 3 years, and then the lot is split so a new house can be built. Very soon after that, the same speculator offers the original owner more cash if he changes his mind and moves out. Now with the extra cash, he changes his mind. Pretty simple really. The 3 year intention thing is a joke.

It can be good for taxes too, to sell the land in 2 pieces across different tax years!


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 7:56 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Jon,
Jon, I would start with Huh?

That makes no sense, but just for argument's sake, if someone would do that in violation of SB9, you are then referring to the 5% of parcels that the existing house to be kept sits on one side of the lot as opposed to the 95% of lots that the existing house sits somewhere in the middle of the lot and would have to be torn down. Then you would have to build 2 new houses and the current owner would have to live in one of the new houses for 3 years after you spend millions building them and 1 1/2-2 years splitting and building,
so go on...... you were saying,


Posted by Jon
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 8:03 pm

Jon is a registered user.

When you are talking about a 5 acre parcel, or even a 1 acre parcel, it's pretty disingenuous to think it's even possible for the current house to be in the center of the lot in any problematic way for a split. When the parcel measures 200 feet by 200 feet, people don't build their houses all along the frontage. So that's a concept which is just silly for these larger lots. OF COURSE you can leave the current home standing, with no problems at all. You don't even have to create a flag lot, but then there is the possibility of that too.

That's why SB9 is so flawed. It makes assumptions and treats every city as a stereotype.


Posted by Carol Scheufele
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2022 at 9:53 pm

Carol Scheufele is a registered user.

My mom had retired to a quaint cottage in "The Glens" that on paper would likely have builders salivating today. I just remember all the problems: Her dog dug into a huge bottomless pit in the backyard we learned was once a septic tank. The county couldn't keep up maintenance on some drainage channels behind her back property line fence. Needless to say, her dining room & garage were completely flooded. After the San Bruno gas line explosion my brother learned a similar gas main ran just behind that fence too. I hired an artist to paint her home & he was scared stiff because the neighborhood was a "fire trap." The deal killer for me was the snake she found crawling around in her cottage. Good to read Woodside still has people who want to live there!


Posted by Catherine
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2022 at 11:28 pm

Catherine is a registered user.

When the mountain lions suddenly so revered by those Woodside residents who oppose SB 9 on those grounds maim — or worse, kill — a cat, dog, horse, where will the love go?


Posted by La Honda Resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2022 at 9:27 am

La Honda Resident is a registered user.

I'm not entirely sure which is more offensive, the disingenuous profession of care for wildlife, or the privileged residents coming to the defense of this ridiculously callous and cynical ploy to avoid taking responsibility for the housing crisis. Shocking NIMBYism at it's worst, but that is what we've come to expect from communities like Woodside. Mountain lions don't live in Woodside, they pass through. They live in open space, which many of you would like to open even more to human activity. Perhaps this false righteousness should be applied to actually doing something to preserve what little actual habitat mountain lions have, which is not at all threatened by infilling an already developed area. Really, Woodside, you should be ashamed of yourselves.


Posted by gtspencer
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 4, 2022 at 12:31 pm

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You guys against this think Gavin would let duplexes pop up in his gated community. Lol think again. Honestly every city on the penninsula and 280 corridor should be exempt from this overreach of the state.


Posted by Jon
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2022 at 1:20 pm

Jon is a registered user.

Weiner is so sloppy in drafting these bills that they have lots of unintended consequences. You can't fault Woodside for noting that they are indeed a wildlife habitat for what may well qualify under the language written into SB9 as an endangered species. Just because the bill is sloppily written doesn't mean Woodside is not covered by its provisions about habitats. It's very easy to see that more dense population runs up against the wildlife population. This is not a city where there is actual urban housing in the first place.

It will be very good for rational analysis when the YIMBY's take Woodside to court over this, but it may be a long time owing to no one wanting to even try SB9 there anyway/


Posted by Grant Kern
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 4, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Grant Kern is a registered user.

As you drive down 84 just across from Bear Gulch east you can see a massive construction project that looks more commercial than residential. I find it confusing when the mayor professes his love for animals yet supports the construction of houses the size of commercial buildings and opposes smaller more affordable units. It would seem by many that the puma is just your red herring, used to deflect from the real issue of a city unwilling to provide solutions to our housing crisis.


Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 5, 2022 at 9:35 am

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[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]




Posted by Gabriel
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2022 at 9:47 am

Gabriel is a registered user.

Additionally Wildlife passage corridors like they have for Hwy 17 in Los Gatos/Santa Cruz would be validating for the local wildlife sanctuary lands involved especially along 280, and 84.

When you cram more people into indigenous animals landscape, when the animals cross into people space they are killed, even shot as was the case in Palo Alto when a starving young mountain lion came into town searching for water & food. Autopsy showed young puma was starving & dehydrated when Palo Alto police shot & killed it vs. Tranquilizing & relocating it “because it was sleeping in a tree too close to school children”.
Well, what does massive overcrowding bring? More schools & children, & additional taxes too.


Posted by Original Peet's Fan
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 5, 2022 at 9:50 am

Original Peet's Fan is a registered user.

Seems to me that denser lots would generally prevent sprawl, which is the real threat to wildlife habitats. This feels pretty disingenuous, but I suppose I look forward to the way Woodside's apparent renewed commitment to wildlife habitats impacts their other development plans!


Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 5, 2022 at 1:14 pm

awatkins is a registered user.

By the way,

1. Woodside did no declare itself a mountain lion habitat, Fish and Game did. See figure ES-1 here: Web Link">Web Link

2. And SB9 specifically exempts areas like that.
Web Link">Web Link

So excuse us for following the law.


Posted by awatkins
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 5, 2022 at 1:32 pm

awatkins is a registered user.

I still want to know what building in Woodside (or Portola Valley, Atherton or Hillsborough) has to do with affordable housing. A backyard shed in those communities isn’t affordable in any useful way.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2022 at 6:06 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"I suppose I look forward to the way Woodside's apparent renewed commitment to wildlife habitats impacts their other development plans!"

Hint: it won't. The wealthy don't have to abide by the same rules the rest of us do.


Posted by Sunny Storm
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 6, 2022 at 8:08 am

Sunny Storm is a registered user.

Thank you Mayor, Town Council and Planning Dept for making our town the object of international mockery of wealth, privilege and idiotic scheming. (yes dozens of US and international articles are trending making fun of Woodside)

On top of it all, this approach makes no sense. Mountain Lions have a territory of 100 square miles in size. So your claim is basically that a single mountain lion that occasionally passes through town in their territory should be the reason no affordable housing should be built for anyone? Totally ridiculous.


Posted by Grant Kern
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Feb 6, 2022 at 9:19 am

Grant Kern is a registered user.

Web Link

Wunderlich Park, Huddart Park, Teague Hill Open Space, Windy Hill Open Space and Los Trancos Open Space are large habitats reserved for recreation and species protection that border Woodside. Comparing these thousands of acres of park and open space sanctuaries with the city of Woodside is ridiculous and completely disingenuous. Woodside's arrogance and entitled privilege has laid raw their hypocrisy.


Posted by gtspencer
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 7, 2022 at 1:59 pm

gtspencer is a registered user.

Everyone badmouthing the town would be the first to call in a noise complaint on their new low income neighbors living next door in their duplex. I applaud the town for tying to protect it's borders from the state's over reach.


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