Woodside will comply with a new state housing law despite a decision by the town council that delayed its implementation over the possibility that it could be exempt due to local mountain lion habitat.
The new law, SB9, is intended to help the state dig out of its severe housing crisis by requiring cities to allow up to four units on parcels currently designated for single-family homes.
On Jan. 25, the town council “paused acceptance of SB9 applications while Town staff continued to study and determine” whether local mountain lion habitat would limit the law’s implementation, according to a statement posted on the town’s website Sunday.
On Jan. 27, Woodside Planning Director Jackie Young wrote a memo stating that the entire town was exempt from the law since the lions are currently a “candidate” for being designated as a threatened species.
“Given that Woodside — in its entirety — is habitat for a candidate species, no parcel within Woodside is currently eligible for an SB9 project,” Young wrote.
In the interim, the town received notice from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife “that the entire Town of Woodside cannot be considered habitat,” according to the city’s statement Sunday.
“As such, the Town Council has directed staff to immediately begin accepting SB9 applications,” the statement reads.
The town had received widespread media coverage of its decision and on Sunday California Attorney General Rob Bonta weighed in.
“Woodside declared its entire suburban town a mountain lion sanctuary in a deliberate and transparent attempt to avoid complying with SB 9,” Bonta wrote in a letter to town leaders. “My message to Woodside is simple: Act in good faith, follow the law, and do your part to increase the housing supply. If you don’t, my office won’t stand idly by.” — Bay City News