Allowing inclusive housing in Woodside

Since my childhood Woodside has experienced continuously decreasing economic diversity.  When I was growing up many of those employed in Town lived here.  Now very few live in or even near Town.  We see the result in the traffic jam leading into town every morning.

The Town’s draft housing element indicates there has been a large increase in employment in town.  It also indicates that the biggest gap in housing is for middle income workers.   The state is trying to impose an apartment building standard for housing in town.   We should demonstrate that we are taking on the challenge of providing more varied housing consistent with our local esthetic and serving people who are employed here.  We can change our zoning to allow individual property owners, especially those near the town center, to build more living spaces consistent with our existing coverage allowances.

The current Council has chosen to locate affordable housing on the edges of town rather than finding a way to infill close to town center. This will lead to more traffic and destruction of open space. The policies will result in the Town becoming a kind of mega-Atherton with dense, isolated clusters of affordable housing around the edges. A far more attractive future would be planning for a compact village surrounded by the rustic-residential areas we have enjoyed for decades.

The traffic jam coming into town every morning could be diminished if we found a way for  some of the many people who are employed in town to live here.

Property owners who are now allowed to build large houses could be allowed to use the same coverage to build similar buildings with multiple dwellings.  The dwellings could provide housing for those who are employed here rather than generate  traffic from out-of-town worker as large estates do.

There is wide support for allowing ADU’s in town.  There are many multi-generational and combined households in town.   We should facilitate this trend by allowing more accessory units and co-housing.

Planning for housing on the periphery as the current Council has done is only creating more sprawl and traffic.  It will create projects isolated from the life of the Town.   It also reduces opportunities for the rustic, equestrian oriented environment the Town was created to protect.

By allowing and encouraging many small projects we can accommodate more housing incrementally while learning what adjustments need to be made along the way.

The State has and will continue to impose housing requirements on the Town. Some aspects of these requirements conflict with many of our traditional planning concepts and promote sprawl and traffic.  We should resist the State's actions to tell us how to provide housing but we should see too it that people who are employed in Woodside can live here.   Not out of sight but in the heart of the community.  If we are not proactive on this issue, we will have no defense against more onerous mandates from the State.