The local activist group Peninsula Direct Action (PDA) Monday sent out a press release in which members condemned alleged acts of harassment and intimidation of tenants by Pete's Harbor staff, while also confirming that one of its members had claimed responsibility for recent phony social media accounts created to look like they belonged to harbor owner Paula Uccelli.
Last month, Patch reported that a media representative for surviving Pete's Harbor owner Paula Uccelli had sent out a press release indicating that .
Adam Alberti of Singer Associates said a Facebook page had been created with photos of Uccelli that included humiliating and unflattering captions, but was quickly taken down upon discovery. A Twitter account was also created, sending out fake tweets such as, "I'm Paula Uccelli! I OWN Redwood City and the local government!"
In a press release PDA sent out Monday, the group stated that one of its members had created the phony accounts "autonomously."
"The Redwood City landlord has been attempting to preserve her public image by addressing non-issues, such as getting her PR firm to curtail free speech by disabling parody Facebook and Twitter accounts created autonomously by certain members of PDA," the statement read.
When asked about the statement directly, a representative for PDA said, "What [we] mean by that is that it was done independently by one person who happens to be a part of PDA and it was not a coordinated group action by PDA. PDA follows most of the same principles as Occupy does in that we are a non-hierarchical group that believes in principles of autonomy. This also means that we do not think in any way that PDA is 'responsible' for the independent actions of one person."
PDA's statement seemed to suggest the creation of the phony accounts was harmless, as the members believed them to be "obvious parodies" that are protected by free speech, as Uccelli is a high-profile public figure.
The members also allege that Uccelli should not be worried about such actions and that her focus should be on helping the last remaining tenants of Pete's Harbor to safely relocate, as she has claimed to be doing for months in statements to the media.
In the most recent action by Uccelli and the staff of Pete's Harbor, the 23 tenants who have remained living at the harbor despite eviction notices requesting they be out by Jan. 15 were served with unlawful detainers, or "nuisance compaints," last week.
In their own defense, PDA members detailed alleged acts of intimidation and threats to safety by Uccelli and the harbor staff against the tenants who remain.
Specifically, PDA claims that Uccelli never required live-aboard tenants to maintain their boats in working condition, and in a few instances even sold boats they knew to not be in working order to people wanting to be live-aboard tenants. Then, Uccelli announced a few months ago that she was closing the harbor in preparation to sell it, and served tenants with eviction notices - though, at that point, many boats were in no condition to safely move out of the harbor, particularly during the thick of winter.
PDA's statement alleges that such actions have put the safety of many tenants in jeopardy.
"One boat leaving Pete's Harbor ran out of gas in the middle of the Bay on its way to South San Francisco, while another ran a-ground and was stranded in the Bay for several nights," the statement alleged. "Still another boat lost steering on its way out of the harbor and nearly crashed into the docks as it was trying to leave. Another almost crashed onto the rocks after leaving the harbor, having lost an engine and its steering."
"There have been a lot of close calls due to the unsafe situations that [Paula Uccelli] has created over the past month. If anything truly bad happened to those boats or the people on them, that would be on her conscience," said Derek Chew, PDA member, in the statement. "Considering what a huge media story such an incident can be, you would think she would do what she can to prevent such an accident instead of fostering an environment that would make it more likely."
"Paula decides to sell the portion of the harbor that she owns, she evicts everyone, including people who were sold boats that in many cases hadn’t worked for years. The harbormaster berates people and these residents have been taking off in sheer terror," said Shaunn Cartwright, PDA co-founder, in the statement. "These taxpaying Redwood City residents aren’t leaving in the relative safety of calm, summer waters either.”
The statement went on to detail many alleged safety hazards at the harbor that they say they have reported to Uccelli and her staff, yet have gone unfixed.
"One of the pilings, or thick wooden poles, in the inner harbor is broken, and the stump remains a safety hazard. The jagged edge of the broken piling is hidden underwater at high tide and presents a serious risk to boats that pass through the harbor or are trying to leave," the statement read. "Despite being warned of this safety issue at the harbor, Ms. Uccelli and her staff have done nothing aside from blocking off pedestrian access to the docks adjacent to the piling."
In response to the serving of the unlawful detainers to the tenants who remain at the harbor - some because they say they are trying to repair their boats in order to be able to move out, others because they feel they should not have to leave, as Uccelli does not in fact own the outer harbor, which belongs to the state - Alberti sent the following statement to Patch:
"Unless the former tenants agree to vacate the property of their own will, as almost all of them have, then we have no option but to rely on the legal remedies available to us under the law."
When PDA sent out the statement Monday confirming that one of its members had in fact created the phony Paula Uccelli social media accounts, Alberti said, "Good to see the truth begin to come out."
Do you think creating phony social media accounts in someone else's name should be considered a protected form of free speech, if the person is a high-profile public figure, and the statements are meant to be 'parodies?' Tell us your opinion in the comments below.
Also on RedwoodCity-Woodside Patch:
- State Weighs in on Pete's Harbor Development Debate
- Temporary 'Black History' Museum Sprouts Up in Woodside Plaza
- Yee Says Death Threats Won't Deter His Gun Control Efforts
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