The parking lot proposal for Cañada Corners that has been submitted to the Town will eliminate the favorite route to school for many kids without providing a replacement. It will create more asphalt, more traffic, a massive retaining wall and more congestion but does not consider how to walk in the town center.
The Roberts' retail businesses have been the heart of the Town for decades. The Roberts family has provided the retail services which keep the town center alive, sometimes forgoing rent to keep important businesses going. It is important that they have the parking to be successful but we also need to balance parking with accessibility for all users.
In September of 2020 proponents of Measure A asked for my support. They proposed that the measure would provide
community gathering spaces and a pedestrian friendly town center.
I responded that the issues to overcome in the town center could not be resolved on a piecemeal basis. Pedestrian friendly spaces cannot be created with only public land or with only private land. The commercial property owners are good at protecting their private interests but we need the Town to look out for public interests.
Woodside voted 1160 to 1156 to approve Measure A and allow expanded parking. Voters believed that Measure A would provide us a town center with outdoor dining and gathering spaces.
The Town and the parties involved in writing this initiative did not publicize the fact that in addition to the voter-initiated restriction on parking behind the existing lot, the Town owned an open space easement on the property.
This open space easement as well as equestrian and bicycle/pedestrian easements were obtained in 1979 as a condition of a major expansion of the then-existing use. The expansion included the conversion of Leo’s Garage to retail space and the addition of buildings which now house Emily Joubert, the cleaners, the beauty parlor and the hardware store.
The open space easement was designed to provide a buffer between commercial and residential uses as well as limit the extent of paving.
The equestrian trail easement runs along the creek and back property line up to Cañada Road and the bicycle and pedestrian trail easement along Woodside Road from Cañada to Woody the fish. Trails were never built on these easements but an informal trail developed crossing the open space. This is the trail now used by many kids on the way to school as well as by equestrians. It will be eliminated by the proposed parking lot and no replacement for the bicycle/pedestrian use is proposed.
When our architectural clients want to undertake a whole house remodel but only have the resources to do a part of the job, we encourage them to make a long-term master-plan before tearing out the kitchen cabinets.
Now the Town is faced with a proposal to "tear out the cabinets" with no idea of a larger goal.
The current application proposes expansion of the parking lot into the hillside covered by the open space easement. For the plan to be implemented the Town would have to abandon the easement which it owns over this land.
The expanded parking requires 10’ retaining walls. It maintains parking spaces blocking the existing (unused) bicycle and pedestrian trail easement owned by the Town along Woodside Road but it does not propose any pedestrian improvements.
Where is the humane place that we were promised by Measure A?
Expanding parking lots alone will never give us a people friendly town center. What is missing is the public realm, a place to walk safely, a place to meet friends.
More parking without pedestrian friendly places just means
more traffic. More congestion. More cars without improving pedestrian spaces means even fewer people will feel safe walking or riding to town center.
The Town needs to look at the big picture and plan for a pedestrian friendly town center. Not just for Cañada Corners but for the entire town center. The Town should not abandon its open space easement to create more parking before this planning is done. The commercial property owners make liberal use of public spaces but leave only sad fragments of public walkways and gathering spaces.
The number of parking spots required at Cañada Corners is based on uses permitted by the conditional use permit, including the permitted number of restaurant seats. Not
only do the number of restaurant seats exceed what has been permitted but the lot is also used for grocery store parking. Planning has to include looking at ways to provide safer, more convenient grocery store parking that can free up spaces at Cañada Corners. There is plenty of existing paving in the town center, including 20 spaces the Town outlawed along the north side of Woodside Road between the Standard Station and Cañada Lane. We need to enlist skilled planners to start a conversation about town center planning.
The Cañada Rd/Woodside Road intersection is a mess with shoppers parking where they block the view of drivers and backing into the intersection.
The solution will require looking at more than just one property or just the roads.
Let’s make a plan first. We can do better.
In 2013 the Town appointed a 30 member committee to look at Town Center Planning. Many ideas were discussed and great progress was being made toward forming planning priorities. A group which had not participated in the committee's sessions misrepresented its work and stormed a Council meeting objecting to even thinking about planning. The Council folded and abandoned the committee's work. It's time to take it up again. Here is a link to information about the committee's work.
Demand that the Town engage in planning for a hospitable town center before it abandons its open space.
Better yet, vote Steve for Town Council and I will see that it gets done!
Save Rural Woodside has information about the proposal on their website:
Minutes of 1979 Planning Commission meeting.
Town Center Page