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Winding Way Annexation - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - 2008

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The following text provides updated information (October 2008) to FAQs published in 2005.

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Comment: I am concerned about the Drainage in the area.
Prior to any construction, a Grading and Drainage Plan must be submitted to the City Engineer. The City Engineer will review plans and incorporate requirements to mitigate negative drainage impacts. Also, Streambed Alteration Permits and other review may be necessary from the US Army Corps of Engineers and/or the California Department of Fish and Game. These permits may contain additional site-specific mitigation measures that would minimize the effects of in-channel work. Because the applicant is expected to comply with state and federal regulations, this activity is considered to have a less-than-significant impact on wetlands.

Does the City have a financial incentive to annex properties?
The City has no financial incentive to annex properties into the City. However, the City Council will consider the fiscal impacts of annexation.  The application to LAFCo triggers property tax exchange negotiations, in which the City and the county negotiate a property tax exchange, which would involve transfer of a share of the 1% property tax between the County and the City.  Without resolutions of property tax exchange from the City and the County, LAFCo cannot consider the annexation, pursuant to Revenue and Tax Code.

How can the City ensure that this annexation does not have a negative effect on the environment?
A Final Environmental Impact Report has been prepared for the project and concludes that the project impacts can be mitigated. A Mitigation Monitoring Plan will be adopted which illustrates the monitoring action, the responsibility for achieving the mitigation and the timing to insure that measures are implemented. 

How many homes could be built if the property were developed in County jurisdiction?
Annexation of properties and allowing connection to sewer would permit development of the property for 20,000 square foot lots. If left under County jurisdiction of the County, with San Mateo County Environmental Health Department would require these lots meet the minimum size requirement for development in the County with a septic system.  Without percolation tests, it is not known if fewer lots would be permitted under County jurisdiction.

How much more development could occur in Devonshire Canyon?
Assuming the undeveloped lands in this unincorporated area were to be developed in accordance with the County’s development regulations, a total of 57 homes (including the five proposed as part of the project) could be built theoretically (see the City’s September 2003 analysis of development potential in Section 1 of this document). In reality, the 57-home theoretical maximum could be limited by the absence of wastewater treatment system connections within this portion of Devonshire Canyon. Since the unincorporated areas outside the Devonshire County Sanitation District are not connected to a publicly owned wastewater treatment plant, these individual home sites would need to be on septic systems. Taking into account the area’s steep topography and need for percolation tests to determine the adequacy of the home sites for septic systems, it is reasonable to expect that the total development of the Devonshire Canyon Area would be less than 57 units without annexation to the City of San Carlos. Also, for individual homes to have access to a public sewer system, their properties would need to be annexed to the City of San Carlos. The City’s more restrictive minimum parcel size requirements for the area (compared to those of the County) would further limit cumulative growth in the Devonshire Canyon Area to 29 units, including the proposed project.

How will impacts to sensitive species be mitigated?
The FEIR recognizes several non-listed, special status plant species; presence of the San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes annectens), a federal and State Species of Special Concern; and the potential disturbance of these species through development of the proposed project site. Regarding sensitive species, mitigation plans for the arcuate bush mallow (Malacothamnus arcuatus) and San Francisco dusky-footed woodrat have been prepared by a qualified biologist in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), and are contained in Mitigation Measures with the FEIR. 

How will maintenance of the rural quality of the neighborhood be retained?
The homes built on the lots will be evaluated under City design regulations. General Plan policies state the City’s main objective is to retain the neighborhood’s character. The City’s development regulations allow for less intense development than the County and specifically allow for rural development. As proposed, the minimum lot size is 20,000 square feet which is larger than the County’s minimum size requirements (5,000 square feet) for the area. There will also be a requirement that Winding Way be improved to rural road standards.

How will the riparian zone be protected?
The footprint and location of future residences on each of the five development parcels is only conceptually known at this time; therefore, it is not possible to determine precisely the impacts associated with building footprints. However the FEIR considers two development Options and determines that Option 2, designed to avoid work within the riparian zone is the preferred plan.

Is the City of San Carlos obligated to annex a piece of property within its sphere of influence?
The City is required to process applications for annexation within their sphere of influence. If the application meets the City’s General Plan Policies and is within the City’s sphere of influence as outlined by Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) for annexation, the property could be prezoned for annexation.  The City Council approved a pre-zoning of the property on April 12, 2004.  The City Council approved a Zoning District Boundary Amendment for the purpose of pre-zoning the project site on March 8, 2004. 

Is Winding Way a trail?
No. Winding Way (fire road) is a dedicated City of San Carlos public street. Winding Way was dedicated to the City as part of the Hyde Park Estates subdivision for emergency access. Therefore, the County of San Mateo has not been maintaining Winding Way. The existing “trail” or “fire road” would still exist as an improved road and access to the area would still be available. Ordinance 1333, adopted in April 2004 requires dedication of a trail on the property.  This requirement will assist in the implementation of the City of San Carlos Trails Connections Plan, February 12, 2007.    

What are the noticing requirements for a Final Environmental Impact Report?
The Public Hearing on a Draft Environmental Impact Report was held on October 24, 2005.  The Final Environmental Impact Report includes responses to the comments received in writing and verbally at the Public Hearing.  There is no requirement for a Public Hearing for a Final Environmental Impact Report, however, as a courtesy, notices were sent to persons commenting on the Draft Environmental Impact Report and were mailed to people within a 300 foot radius of the property and also placed in a Newspaper.

What jurisdiction has the ultimate authority to approve the annexation request?
The City Council has the authority for prezoning which was approved in April 2004. LAFCo is San Mateo County agency established by State Law, which has the power to adopt a change in boundaries.  In annexing property to a city, an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) may be submitted (in this case) by the property owner. Prior to applying to LAFCo, the land to be annexed must first be pre-zoned by the City and be consistent with the City's General Plan. Once pre-zoning is complete, the application can be submitted to LAFCo. An environmental review document and fees must accompany the application for annexation.

Where can I find summary answers to questions about the proposal and impacts?
Many FAQs are addressed in the “Master Responses” (MR1 through MR17) section 3.2 of Chapter 3 of the Final Environmental Impact Report found at the following link www.cityofsancarlos.org/windingway/final_environmental_impact_report_(feir).asp)

 Below is the list of topics addressed by the Master Responses:

  • MR1 Project Merit
  • MR2 Public Review of the Draft EIR and Supporting Materials
  • MR3 Visual Impacts
  • MR4 Sensitive Species Impacts
  • MR5 Riparian Habitat Impacts
  • MR6 Hydrology and Flooding Impacts
  • MR7 Geologic Impacts (Slopes, Landslides and Erosion)
  • MR8 Land Use Impacts
  • MR9 Annexation Procedures and Policies
  • MR10 Designation/Acquisition of the Proposed project site as Open Space
  • MR11 Air Quality Impacts
  • MR12 Traffic Impacts
  • MR13 Accessibility by Public Transportation
  • MR14 Proposed Gate – Potential Impacts
  • MR15 Hazards and Emergency Response
  • MR16 Maximum Cumulative Development Scenario
  • MR17 Growth-Inducing Effects