An initiative to allow more outdoor community gathering spaces by changing zoning restrictions on some plots in downtown Woodside is on the ballot for Nov. 2.
Measure A would amend current land use regulations that limit two residential zoned lots adjacent to the city center, a city-owned complex along Woodside Road from Whiskey Hill Road to Roberts Market that includes government buildings and commercial enterprises, and Cañada Corners at the Cañada Road Intersection (owned by Roberts Market). Because the rules were established by the J and 1 voting measures in 1988 and 1989, only voters can overturn the rules that limit future development at the sites.
Residents Alex Tauber and Peter Bailey, who met as part of the Safe Routes to School initiative several years ago, have noticed the popularity of alfresco dining in Woodside which has been made possible, in part, by to an emergency order during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city council’s state of emergency ordinance allows the city to waive parking requirements for restaurants that are part of a conditional use permit. When the declaration of emergency ends, the city must again enforce the parking requirements.
“Talking with stakeholders in the community, they said Woodside needed to create an open space where all the groups could meet,” Tauber said. “We don’t want lights or speakers, we just want something that fits the environment.”
They didn’t want to “let a crisis spoil,” he said.
Measure An opponent, Don Pugh, alleges the measure is a “ploy” by the Bacchus Management Group, which owns and operates The Village Bakery and The Village Pub, to “bulldoze the open space in order to expand the parking lot to allow more places and more money. “
Bacchus has given a total of $ 3,000 in cash and $ 2,000 in in-kind donations like banners, garden signs, design work, and legal work to Measure A supporters since the start of the year, according to campaign fundraising reports. Bacchus told The Almanac that the success of the alfresco dining in town is “measured by the overwhelming support from Woodside residents for bistro dining, who have enjoyed it over the past 18 difficult months and want to continue to enjoy it in the future, despite the grunts of a few who would prefer not to let “strangers” into our city. “
Pugh, who also authored Measure J in the 1980s, says Measure A threatens the city’s rural atmosphere.
Pugh worries the changes will cause traffic and noise.
“We’re a rural community,” said Pugh, who has lived in Woodside since 1972. “We’re not in downtown Redwood City where there are movie theaters. There are already small gathering spaces available; why do we need more people? It’s a real traffic scene in the morning; there are too many people and there are children walking to school. Maybe these people who think this is a wonderful idea are from Los Angeles or something. “
Pugh also argues that the special election is costing the city too much, around $ 100,000, according to interim city clerk Melissa Cardinale.
“Woodside changes every day,” said Bailey, who sits on the Woodside Elementary School District board of trustees, in response to Pugh’s concerns. “I don’t think it’s a realistic prospect to try to freeze a place in time. People are enthusiastic about creating places for community gatherings.” Bailey noted that the elementary school and churches are currently the only gathering places for residents.
Bailey claims there’s already traffic in town with people coming to Woodside to enjoy the outdoors and eat at restaurants, but no one can find parking as is.
“Adding 40 berths on grounds that are not in use is something most would appreciate,” he said. “The amphitheater is for the residents of Woodside and I don’t think it would add traffic.”
For opponents to the measure comparing the potential amphitheater to large event spaces like Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, which attracts rock concerts, is irrelevant given the space is only 100 feet wide by 50 feet wide. feet deep, said Bailey and Tauber.
The measure, which requires a simple majority to pass, would allow the property behind Cañada Corners to have surface parking to accommodate permanent outdoor meals, trails and play structures, all of which are now prohibited. It would also allow for the eventual construction of a public building – an amphitheater or gazebo – for community events in the downtown residential area on part of a 1.65 acre lot called Village Hill. Measure J, approved by voters in 1988, prohibited the development of commercial or office space on a then vacant piece of land belonging to the city near the current site of the city hall. It also required that residential properties located in and near the city center remain for residential use, unless commercial parking on those properties was authorized before June 1, 1988.
Measure 1, approved by voters the following year, created an exception to Measure J’s requirement that downtown residential plots remain for residential use. After its approval by the voters, the residential zoned plots in the parking assessment district of Woodside Road Whiskey Hill Road were allowed to be improved to provide access, parking and open space – as shown in the site plan downtown from 1989 – provided that at least 50% of the residential plots were kept open space. The approval of Measure 1 allowed the city to build the town hall parking lot and access improvements which now serve the town hall, downtown businesses and the public.