Officers from the Redwood City Police Department were called to Pete's Harbor Wednesday morning when a disagreement broke out between a tenant who is still docked in the outer harbor, and the harbormaster Giorgio Garilli, who reportedly asked some construction workers to dismantle part of the docks in the outer harbor.
Chris Murphy, who bought a boat from Paula Uccelli in a lien sale in 2007 and has been living on it in the outer harbor ever since, said his phone rang around 8:10 a.m. Wednesday morning with a call from Garilli.
Murphy said Garilli told him he needed to move one slip over because workers were coming to dismantle part of the docks that morning.
"I said, do you have permission to do that? Because I'm on state land," Murphy told Patch.
Though the Uccelli family owns the inner harbor, the outer harbor area of Pete's Harbor is owned by the California State Lands Commission (SLC). Back in the 1980s, lease agreements were reached between the state and the harbor's founding namesake, Pete Uccelli.
Since Paula Uccelli has been trying to sell the harbor and marina to Pauls Corporation for the development of a 411-unit luxury waterfront housing community, questions have been raised as to whether the SLC will allow it, since the sale would mean the privatization of the marina for the residents of the new homes, and the original lease between the state and Pete Uccelli was for a mixed-use residential and commercial marina.
Murphy said Garilli told him that the SLC had in fact "requested" that the docks be dismantled.
Murphy said he then got on the phone with Alison Madden, a former tenant and member of Save Pete's Harbor, who is an attorney and represents the group.
Murphy said Madden called the SLC, and representatives said they knew nothing about any request to have the docks dismantled. He said she also told him she had called Pete's Harbor attorney Ted Hannig, who was with Paula Uccelli when he took her call, and that they both also denied any knowledge of the request.
Murphy told Patch that the story changed then, and that he was told that the only work the harbor wanted to do that morning was to remove the docks' cleats, which are metal attachments that allow boats to tie up to the docks.
However, he said, shortly after 8:30 a.m., two men with power tools showed up and started cutting into the docks.
At that point, things reportedly got heated when Murphy told the men they needed to stop, but he said they ignored him, and eventually, Murphy pulled out the electrical cord to their tools and threw it into the water.
At that point, Murphy said Paula Uccelli herself came down to try and diffuse the situation, and she and the workers then walked away.
Adam Alberti, spokesperson for Paula Uccelli and Pete's Harbor said, at some point, a member from Paula's office called the police.
Murphy said at least four or five officers showed up and tried to help smooth things over.
Alberti called the incident an "overblown misunderstanding."
He said, Paula Uccelli and the staff of Pete's Harbor have tried to be as understanding as possible, despite the fact that several boaters still remain at Pete's Harbor in violation of their leases, which ended Jan. 15.
"They've been trying to come to a reasonable understanding with everyone, without getting law enforcement or the courts involved, and I think they've been doing a fantastic job of that so far," he said.
He said, the boaters that insist on remaining at the harbor past their eviction dates are "inhibiting [Paula Uccelli] from conducting repairs to the harbor that they have been seeking to do for some time."
He said, all the staff wanted to do Wednesday morning was a very small amount of work to the docks, and all they asked Chris Murphy to do was move one slip to the side, and that things got "overblown" from there.
Matters between Paula Uccelli, Pauls Corporation and the City of Redwood City have been put on hold until the State Lands Commission gives some sort of guidance as to the status of the outer harbor lease, and whether or not they will allow it to be transferred to Pauls Corporation for private development.
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