Once again, Paula Uccelli - owner of Pete's Harbor, founded by her late husband, Pete Uccelli, for whom it is named - is seeking approval by the City to sell the long-beloved harbor and develop it into luxury waterfront housing.
The possibility is worrying the community of houseboat dwellers who have called the harbor their home for quite some time - some dating back to 1958, when Pete Uccelli first founded it.
However, the current residents are vowing not to go quietly. Last week, many of them packed Monday night's City Council meeting, speaking out against Uccelli's proposed development; and tonight, many of them will be back for the Planning Commission meeting, to make their feelings known there as well.
More than one hour of public comments took place during the recent City Council meeting, many made by current harbor residents who fear becoming homeless if the project is approved.
"Pete's Harbor is home to a community of people who work together, laugh and cry together, and provide amazing support to each other," one resident, Gabriel Black, said passionately. "Pete's Harbor truly is a family, and is the strongest family that I have experienced in my lifetime."
Potential drawbacks of the proposed development
Uccelli's proposed plan - designed in partnership with RWC Harbor Communities, which is also currently developing the much-advertised One Marina Homes on the Peninsula - would consist of 411 multi-family waterfront homes, as well as some open space, a clubhouse, and a community pool. Approximately 263 slips will be converted from commercial to private - meaning, mooring would be limited to tenants of the new units.
Also, all existing commercial operations will be forced to cease, such as The Waterfront Restaurant, a small storage space facility, and Mt. Diablo Boat repair services.
The current residents will also be forced to relocate - possibly by as soon as the end of this year, which is coming up fast, they worry.
Some residents and lovers of the harbor are complaining that it seems the proposed development would block access to this treasured local landmark by the public.
"The current proposed development at Pete's Harbor would really, totally 'occupy' this unique geographic location, environment and community," Alison Madden, founder of a local group called Friends of Pete Harbor, which opposes the development, told Patch. "And, of course, it so occupies by totally eviscerating the harbor and marina community that is really a social and cultural institution, and that most feel is a historic landmark."
Madden and other members of the group have been spreading the word about their concerns throughout the community, trying to rally supporters to come to City meetings and speak out against it.
The group also started a petition on the website Change.org, which has nearly 900 signatures so far.
Smaller is still not small enough, many say
It appears Paula Uccelli's plans for a luxury housing development are shrinking with time, but still, many are saying it's not small enough.
Back in 2004, a proposal was made that was significantly larger, featuring nearly 2,000 homes, and towers that were 200 feet tall. However, public opponents got their way by getting a voter referendum on the election ballot that year, and then killing the proposal with 54 percent of voters voting No.
Now, Uccelli has shrunk her latest proposal down to 411 units, but many feel it is still too large and will rob locals of the chance to continue to enjoy the local landmark as they always have.
"Most people don't mind some development, but they want to keep the marina/harbor, and they feel this size of a development is not appropriate," Madden told Patch.
Madden also says, many in her group are angered by how fast the proposal is moving forward, and how little community outreach there has been on the subject.
"What most seems to get under the skin of members of the public that we have been talking to is the lack of notice, process, community engagement and public outreach - all 'buzzwords' that the City uses in its Inner Harbor Precise Plan discussion documents," she told Patch. "And indeed, all buzzwords that any city government should adhere to and prioritize in such an important development."
Many are also concerned that the proposal is riding on an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is more than nine years old, completed back in 2003, when development talks first started to get serious. Opponents of the project question how relevent the findings can still be in today's rapidly-changing environment, particularly when it comes to predictions of sea-level rising.
City planning staff recommends approval of proposal
The Redwood City Planning Commission's agenda for Tuesday's night's meeting indicates the City's planning department staff is recommending that the Commission approve Uccelli's proposal.
Portions of the meeting are set aside for public comment.
The meeting will take place beginning at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road. For more information, visit the Planning Commission's page on The City's website.
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