Town Square

Woodside council OKs larger floor areas for main residences

Original post made on Jan 11, 2017

The Woodside Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10, by a unanimous vote with two council members absent, took the first of two steps in approving an ordinance to expand the maximum allowable floor area of a main residence.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 11:46 AM


Posted by William New
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jan 11, 2017 at 1:04 pm

Encouraging/permitting ever-larger houses throughout Woodside (with greater resource impacts) should be matched with similar encouragement/permission for ever-smaller "tiny" houses with their minimalist impact. Such small houses (<500 sq ft, more typically 120-200 sq ft) with little-if-any land grading/excavation, most likely self-sustainable with solar power/composting toilets/gray water reuse would make it possible for a younger generation (read, our adult children and grandkids) to move back to the Town where they are now priced out. Technical/bureaucratic planning approval barriers can be (and have been) defeated in Woodside with copious time and money, but these only lead to building ever-larger houses to justify the cost. Small is beautiful and affordable, and we need to start moving in that direction.

Posted by susan smith
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:05 am

That was a pretty big and influential matter to vote on with 2 members of the council to be missing.

Posted by Dave
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Encouraging the ostentatious display of excessive wealth written into law.

Posted by @Dave
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 8:50 pm

"Encouraging the ostentatious display of excessive wealth written into law."

That's what you get when you have a community where there's more money than common sense...

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 12, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"That's what you get when you have a community where there's more money than common sense..."

Nope. That's what you get in any community with a bunch of wealthy entitled people.

Of course, that's only one way of looking at it. The other is, it is their property to do with as they please minus the interference of non-owners. The interesting thing being that the existing folks that pushed the envelope and got theirs are the same that are opposing those that currently wish to push the envelope. Hypocrites much?

Posted by Bob
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

It's worth noting that despite the headline, this does NOT allow anyone to build more total square footage on their lots. All it does is allow residents to transfer a limited amount of square footage that previously had to be in a guest cottage, pool house, barn, or other secondary structure to the main house. Personally, I think having 500 sq ft (for example) more as part of my primary residence is lower impact and less ostentatious than having a 500 sq ft pool house somewhere else on my lot.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 22, 2017 at 5:59 pm

The new ordinance was proposed by people in Woodside Heights and, without apparent public demand in other parts of Town, taken up by a Town Council committee dominated by building interests. The Heights folk seem to have more of a cultural connection to Atherton than to Woodside and seem unaware of the Town's long held conservation ethic or the Town's award winning General Plan. What bothers me most about this action is that it was apparently taken up in isolation rather than evaluated in the context of the General Plan. We can't know the thinking that went into it since the public was not allowed to attend the committee meetings. Given past experience with the current Council it is a waste of time to read the staff reports or attend the Planning Commission meetings since these increases in allowed building emerge full blown from the Council and are adopted with the minimum required public involvement. Was it run by the ASRB? I don't remember that. The circle of deciders draws smaller and smaller.

Posted by CLMartin
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm

I'm not certain I understand what the problem is here. Woodside, historically was a community of very large mansions - definitely much larger than what is allowed today. It has nothing to do with being like Atherton. Many of these homes sit on expanses of land. Restricting their footprint seems to be a very recent mandate, not an historical one.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 22, 2017 at 9:55 pm

The large historic mansion were on large estates, not one acre lots.

Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Woodside Wake Up: significant change in the look and feel of our town will result if council goes through with this.

Your council (Gordon and Yost absent) just voted to increase house size by 10%.

This is in direct violation of our General Plan which directs as follows:

1. Policy LU1.2 “Limit Intensity of Development”
In former times very few people build large basements so this was not considered something which had to be regulated. When it became clear that excessive grading to build basements was a problem, the Council wrote an ordinance, but did not adequately consider the impact that the magnitude of the allowed grading would have on the Town's natural setting.

In summary, the new code does not “Limit the intensity of development.

2. Policy LU1.4 – Emphasize residential land uses consistent with rural environment

The Council is poised to adopt an ordinance increasing house size without looking at total lot and grading coverage even though it is clear that in some zones the allowable building and paving coverages are not consistent with the open space and conservation goals of the GP.

Thus the Council is adopting regulations that increase the divergence between the code and the General Plan.

Posted by Retired Realtor
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm

PLEASE VOICE YOUR CONCERN OR OBJECTIONS before or at tomorrow’s meeting: To send an email to the council: [email protected]

Agenda: Web Link

Posted by non-conforming parcels
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 24, 2017 at 1:22 pm

One of the many issues with building/renovating in Woodside is the fact, as called out in the article, that over 50% of lots are non-conforming. Lots are anywhere from .3 to several acres, but the buildable land with steep hillsides, unusual lot lines and strict setback rules are very small.

Between the above and ASRB, it is extraordinarily difficult and expensive to get things through the process. The town needs to take up this issue, which has been festering for years, and not remotely addressed.

I have a small house on a small unusual lot, and can save up for small renovations, but not expend unknown thousands to get a tiny expansion approved to expand a closet into a bedroom.

It should not cost far more to do a small expansion in Woodside than in nearby towns, nor take 2-3X as long.

How long do we have to wait for this to change, or should we plan to move away to accomplish this?