https://almanacnews.com/square/print/2021/07/29/how-woodside-portola-valley-considered-appealing-their-latest-housing-allocations-but-stopped-short


Town Square

How Woodside, Portola Valley considered appealing their latest housing allocations, but stopped short

Original post made on Jul 30, 2021

Portola Valley and Woodside officials are not happy about huge increases in the number of new housing units they're obliged to accommodate, but chose not to appeal their latest allotments, saying there's no chance for success.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 29, 2021, 11:44 AM

Comments

Posted by Neal Mielke
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 30, 2021 at 9:33 am

Neal Mielke is a registered user.

Excellent article about Woodside and Portola Valley not appealing their RHNA allocations. I actually live in Los Altos Hills, but a Portola Valley friend asked me to post more information about the fire-risk issues raised in this article. ABAG's statement about how they handle fire risk is reckless, head-in-the-sand denial disguised with clever wording. To illustrate by example: the area of Santa Rosa where 3000 homes were incinerated in the 2017 Tubbs fire were NOT in in the hazard zones where ABAG said that it factored in fire risk. ABAG would densify housing there. Much of Woodside and Portola Valley are the same: they're incorporated and in obvious high-risk areas, but they're not in Cal Fire's "very high hazard" zone. It is madness to densify housing in such places. The Fire Marshall and the ex-Fire Marshall of your fire district have come out against Senate Bill 9's push for densification precisely for that reason. Worse, look at the ADU in the article's picture. Wood siding, wood deck, open wood-framed eaves, and branches of a tree overhanging it all. Woodside and PV should be following California Chapter 7A building standards. Everything in that picture violates those provisions. It's in invitation to fire. Structures are the most flammable things in the landscape, and the biggest source of embers. Wildfire needs to be a major factor in land-use planning, not merely paid lip service to. And planning should anticipate decades more of climate change, not rely on risk maps that are ten years out of date.


Posted by Bob Turcott
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 30, 2021 at 10:45 am

Bob Turcott is a registered user.

There is a lot more to this story than what the article was able to cover.

While the article quotes ABAG Executive Director McMillan's claim that the '2050 Blueprint' excludes Cal Fire High and Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones, it doesn't cite:

1. the ABAG senior planner who confirmed that Portola Valley's 'Growth Geographies' was such that fire hazard was not considered at all. In fact, whether Portola Valley was 100% Very High Hazard or 0%, our allotment would be the same: 253 units. (61% of Portola Valley’s area has been determined to be high or very high fire hazard.)

2. analysis that shows a systematic bias in the ABAG methodology that excessively burdens high hazard communities, where 'burden' means development in high hazard areas or, when development is excluded from high-hazard regions, effective growth that is much greater than low- and moderate-hazard communities. (The methodology makes Portola Valley’s effective growth 37% and Woodside’s 90%.)

3. analysis that shows the decisions of the 21 entities that make up San Mateo County to forgo appeal were not reached independently. 

As fire science has clearly demonstrated, structures are wildfire intensifiers. Building in high hazard areas exposes new residents to risks not shared by those in low-hazard communities, increases the risks already faced by existing residents, and increasingly excludes both new and old residents from the insurance market.

ABAG should have taken fire and geologic risk into account, even for areas of low 'Growth Geography'.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 30, 2021 at 1:33 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Since an above post referenced the Tubbs fire, note that area of Santa Rosa -- where 3000 homes burned and dozens died -- is very similar to the El Camino corridor of Menlo Park, where hundreds of housing units are currently being built, with another 400 contemplated at SRI.

In particular, Linfield Oaks is bordered by the creek and the train tracks, giving us limited options to get in and out of the neighborhood. The new development at SRI will only add to the gridlock if fire occurs.

Instead of the more affluent hill communities trying to shift development over to the poor flatlanders, how about all of us pushing back against these new requirements that will force us to grow our city by 25% in a short period of time -- even as people continue to leave the more expensive areas of California.


Posted by Betsy Roble
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 30, 2021 at 7:18 pm

Betsy Roble is a registered user.

While RHNA requirements are going to increase density in Portola Valley and Woodside, it is nothing compared to the damage that SB-9 and SB-10 are going wreck upon the peninsula.

Why are Josh Becker and Marc Berman in favor of increasing density in areas with high fire risk combined with inadequate evacuation routes?

Write to Becker and Berman and ask: they will confirm that they are committed to voting yes on SB-9 and SB-10.

Their accountability needs to be NOW, because they will not accept it when disaster strikes.


Posted by Neal Mielke
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2021 at 11:47 am

Neal Mielke is a registered user.

I need to object to "Observer's" complaint about "more affluent hill communities trying to shift development over to the poor flatlanders." First, it is absurd to claim that Linfield Oaks has significant wildfire risk. The areas that burned in Santa Rosa were either in the hills themselves or in the Coffey Park flatland neighborhood that was a half mile away from those hills. Linfield Oaks is 2 miles away from the nearest hills. The San Mateo and Santa Cruz County Wildfire Protection Plan puts Woodside and Portola Valley in the wildland-urban-interface (WUI), but the WUI ends at about Alameda de Las Pulgas. The simple fact is that these WUI communities face astronomical fire risk compared to the flatland neighborhoods that a miles distant.

Second, I can speak for myself, and I think many others who have objected to the fire risk with housing densification, that we have worked very hard to fight against this housing legislation for a variety of reasons beyond fire, and for the whole state and not just our communities. A hot-button issue of mine is the power grid, which struggles to stay up even with our current population. I have never objected to a flatlander raising concerns about the special circumstances there (such as loss of privacy and parking), just because those don't affect where I live as much as in the flatland communities. I'd appreciate it if Observer did not object to concerned residents living in the WUI speaking up about their fire-related concerns.

Third, if one is going to play the "affluent vs. poor" card, one should find a better representative for the poor than the residents of Menlo Park.


Posted by Neal Mielke
a resident of another community
on Jul 31, 2021 at 11:51 am

Neal Mielke is a registered user.

I need to object to "Observer's" complaint about "more affluent hill communities trying to shift development over to the poor flatlanders." First, it is absurd to claim that Linfield Oaks has significant wildfire risk. The areas that burned in Santa Rosa were either in the hills themselves or in the Coffey Park flatland neighborhood that was a half mile away from those hills. Linfield Oaks is 2 miles away from the nearest hills. The San Mateo and Santa Cruz County Wildfire Protection Plan puts Woodside and Portola Valley in the wildland-urban-interface (WUI), but the WUI ends at about Alameda de Las Pulgas. The simple fact is that these WUI communities face astronomical fire risk compared to the flatland neighborhoods that are miles distant.

Second, I can speak for myself, and I think many others who have objected to the fire risk with housing densification, that we have worked very hard to fight against this housing legislation for a variety of reasons beyond fire, and for the whole state and not just our communities. A hot-button issue of mine is the power grid, which struggles to stay up even with our current population. I have never objected to a flatlander raising concerns about the special circumstances there (such as loss of privacy and parking), just because those don't affect where I live as much as in the flatland communities. I'd appreciate it if Observer did not object to concerned residents living in the WUI speaking up about their fire-related concerns.

Third, if one is going to play the "affluent vs. poor" card, one should find a better representative for the poor than the residents of Menlo Park.