Moods were light but also a bit tense Sunday as residents and friends of Pete's Harbor held a dock party with food, music and socializing.
Though all were happy to get to enjoy the weekend's warm weather with each other on the dock they love so much, they were also worried about the impending vote ahead of them at Tuesday night's Planning Commission meeting.
Tonight, the Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on whether or not to approve the development of a luxury waterfront housing community that would mean the eviction of all tenants of Pete's Harbor - including those that live aboard their boats, as well as in motorhomes or RVs - the shut-down of all commercial businesses such as the Waterfront Restaurant, and the fear of potentially reduced access to the waterfront by the public.
Saying goodbye to family
The potential loss of the harbor they call home is not just a hard pill to swallow for those who need affordable housing, but also for those who choose to live there because they love life by the water, and the community of caring neighbors they have found at Pete's Harbor.
"We're very disappointed," said Pete's Harbor tenant Dave Hattery at the dock party on Sunday.
Hattery and his wife are "cruisers," who live aboard their boat and dock at various harbors around the world for periods of time. The Hatterys have been at Pete's Harbor for roughly a year now, and say they aren't looking forward to having to leave.
"In all the places we've traveled, it's one of only two places we've ever found where, immediately, you're part of something; a community," he said.
Leslie Webster, who also lives aboard her boat, said she has heard from some former tenants who have already moved to other marinas in anticipation of the potential eviction if the development is approved by the City. She said, they are not enjoying their new homes, because they do not come with the "family" that Pete's Harbor did.
"They say, it's so different," Webster described. "There's no community like there is here."
Hattery said, most other marinas he has docked at in the past feel more like "parking lots for boats," because nobody cares about each other like they do at Pete's.
The fear of becoming homeless
For some tenants, there's not just the fear of losing their Pete's Harbor family - there's also the fear of losing their homes, period.
Though, yes, their homes are their boats which travel with them wherever they go, they say - that still means they need a liveable place to park them.
Roger Miranda, who lives in a motorhome with his 10-year-old son, said he worries about having to pull his son out of his Redwood City school if they are evicted due to the approval of the development - especially since he just recently won a cut-throat, six-year custody battle to be able to have him live with him full-time.
"My main concern is my son's education," Miranda told Patch.
For Miranda, though, it's even more worrisome than that. Miranda said, with all the talk of the development going around, he started looking for another place to move his motorhome to a short while ago, and every place he has contacted has said it is full and cannot accept any new tenants.
Some places, he said, have as many as 100 people on the waiting list.
However, even if he did find a new spot to move to, Miranda said some places want as much as $2,000-$2,500 for a move-in deposit, which would be a hardship for him.
"It's effecting me, for sure," he said.
A feeling that something is not right
For other tenants, like Alison Madden and Roger Smith, they aren't just fearful - they're angry.
Madden, who is a technology lawyer, said she has done a considerable amount of research on this and past development proposals. She said, in order for this development to go through, the City would have had to change its Land Use designation.
Madden said she was under the impression that Pete's Harbor's current designation was "Marina" - which means, a mix of commercial, residential and marina uses, with no structure taller than three stories - and that in order for the development to be approved, it would have to switch to "Waterfront," since the development would not include any commercial uses, and proposes some structures as tall as six stories.
Madden said she is angry, because if the City recently changed Pete's Harbor's Land Use designation in order to streamline this development, the public was never notified, as it should be.
Madden said she suspected the change in land use was made during the General Plan update the City conducted in late 2010.
"[If that's what happened,] they made this switch without telling anybody," Madden told Patch.
When asked about Madden's claim, City Planning Manager Blake Lyon had this to say:
"The Pete’s Harbor project, as proposed, is consistent with the current zoning, General Commercial – Residential (CG-R), as well as the current General Plan land use designation, Mixed Use – Waterfront. The project does not require any amendments to either the Zoning or General Plan land use designation.
The comment [made to Patch by Alison Madden] that 'in order for this development to be approved, the Land Use type would have to be changed, from 'Marina' to 'Waterfront'' is inaccurate. This property has never been designated 'Marina.'
In the 1975 General Plan the land use designation for the property was split between 'Commercial' and 'Employment.' The General Plan land designation was then changed in 1990 to 'Mixed Use' (Commercial and Residential). It has remained that designation until the recently adopted 2010 General Plan changed the land use designation to Mixed Use – Waterfront.
The Marina designation was introduced as a land use type in the development of the 2010 General Plan, but it was never assigned to the Pete’s Harbor property...I have exhibits from the public workshops conducted in 2008 and 2009 that confirm this fact.
When asked what the City did in order to spread the word about the General Plan update of 2010, when the land use designation of Pete's Harbor was changed, Lyon said:
"The General Plan was adopted in October 2010, after a couple years of public input, including workshops, study sessions, open houses, booths held at community events, etc. Notices of these events were sent city-wide in water bills, posted on websites, e-mail blasts, ads run in papers, etc. Also, direct mailouts were sent out on the following dates: February 17, 2008; May 22, 2009; July 14, 2009; May 11, 2010; September 21, 2010. Notices were also provided to email recipients."
Madden and other tenants also told Patch that, though Paula Uccelli and her lawyer, Ted Hannig, claim that tenants should not be surprised since memos were sent out back in July warning tenants that the property could soon be sold, they were never told the sale of the property would mean their eviction - especially since, back in 2004, a similar development being proposed was voted down by the public in a referendum on the ballot.
"Everyone always knew there would be a sale, yes - but ever since Measure Q was voted down in 2004, we never expected it to be such a huge development," Madden told Patch. "That was never our understanding."
Madden said many expected any new development being proposed would allow for the tenants to stay.
Live-Aboard Tenants: We are not disgusting, wasteful creatures opposed to development
As Madden wrote in an op-ed Patch ran last week - which prompted a reaction from the City - the tenants of Pete's Harbor want everyone to know they are not anti-development; they would actually welcome Pete's Harbor to be developed into a thriving, part-commercial, part-residential, part-public waterfront destination. But, one that would allow the tenants to stay.
Several tenants were also angered recently by claims from Ted Hannig, Paula Uccelli's lawyer, that live-aboards are bad for the environment because their showers and sinks dump into the Bay and their toilet tanks can sometimes fail and spill sewage into the water.
In response to those statements, many of them banded together and filmed a video sharing their feelings about their way of life.
"The video was intended to kind of counter some of the negative attitudes toward live-aboards," said Dave Hattery.
The video is included in the photos section of this article.
Madden and Smith both said they are tired of everyone assuming that "live-aboard" means "low-income." They said, many Pete's Harbor tenants actually bring in lucrative incomes in careers as laywers, engineers, financial experts and the like.
Why is there no 'precise plan' for Pete's Harbor?
Madden and several residents are questioning why there is no "Precise Plan" by the City for Pete's Harbor.
Previously, it was the impression of many that Pete's Harbor was included in the "Inner Harbor Precise Plan" which the City says it is currently developing. Madden referenced that impression in her recent op-ed, which prompted an editorial in response from the City, stating that Pete's Harbor is not included in the plan under development.
Save Pete's Harbor 2012, a coalition of community members against the current development proposal, provided Patch with a map the City distributed back in June of the area it was proposing being included in the Inner Harbor Precise Plan - and it shows Pete's Harbor as being included.
Madden thinks the City has changed its mind and removed Pete's Harbor from the map, since the map the City sent Patch this week does not feature Pete's Harbor on it.
'Map 1' in the photos section of this article is the City's Inner Harbor Precise Plan map presented back in June. 'Map 2' is the Inner Harbor Precise Plan map the City gave to Patch this week.
Many residents of Pete's Harbor are questioning why neighboring development One Marina Homes - which is also being developed by Paul Powers - had a plan called the Peninsula Precise Plan designed around it, but the City won't develop a plan around Pete's Harbor.
The public is welcome at tonight's Planning Commission vote
The Redwood City Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to take place tonight, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, across the street from the Downtown Main Library.
A portion of the meeting will be devoted to public comment.
For more information, visit the Planning Commission page of the City's website at http://www.redwoodcity.org/government/bcc/plan/.
Other Related Content by Patch:
- (Oct. 16, 2012)
- (Oct. 18)
- Op-Ed: Pete's Harbor Tenants Are Not Anti-Development (Oct. 25, 2012)
- City Aims to Set the Record Straight About Inner Harbor Precise Plan (Oct. 27, 2012)
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