Silicon Valley Town Backs Off Mountain-Lions-as-Density-Deterrent

An update for Woodside's plans to avoid a state-mandated rezoning by claiming that the entire town serves as mountain lion habitat.

2 minute read

February 8, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Rattlesnakes

Gabriele Maltinti / Shutterstock

Just last week, Woodside, California, a town of 5,500 residents on the edge of the Silicon Valley, made national headlines with a novel strategy for avoiding the zoning reforms mandated by recently approved state law SB 9: claim that the entire town is habitat for an endangered species.

As first reported by Angela Swarz for the Almanac and then picked up by media outlets all over the country, including this media outlet, Woodside planners and elected officials proposed the plan in a memo dated January 27. The Almanac published its story on February 2. On February 6, according to an article by Liam Dillon for the Los Angeles Times, the town held an emergency town meeting and decided to reverse course.

"The bid to evade the housing law, which took effect Jan. 1, was especially brazen because under the definition of 'mountain-lion habitat' used by Woodside, all of coastal California south of San Francisco, including the entirety of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties would qualify," explains Dillon. Mountain lion experts called the town's attempt at declaring itself mountain lion habitat unhelpful for mountain lions. The Department of Fish and Wildlife also chimed in, informing the town that it cannot be considered habitat under state law.

Dillon provides a little more context than previously shared on Planetizen about the types of houses Woodside willingly approves instead of duplexes. "Oracle founder Larry Ellison reportedly spent $200 million building a Japanese-style 16th century imperial palace across 23 acres in Woodside," for example.

More on the pushback against Woodside's attempted evasive maneuver are included in the source article below.

Monday, February 7, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

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