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Pete's Harbor Owner, Lawyer Address Public on Possible Development

Paula Uccelli's lawyer, Ted Hanning, said 'it definitely hurt' when people called him 'a liar' at the most recent City Council meeting about the potential development.

The Redwood City Planning Commission voted late Tuesday to continue its discussion of the proposed development of Pete's Harbor into a luxury housing community to its next meeting on Oct. 30.

After a seemingly endless line of citizens filled out cards requesting to be able to address the Commission on the issue - preceeded by a three-and-a-half-hour discussion on the expansion of the Costco gas station - the Commission finally called it a night shortly after midnight.

However, that was not before Pete's Harbor owner Paula Uccelli, her lawyer Ted. J. Hannig, and developer Paul Powers had a chance to address the room, followed by roughly 10 members of the public, some of whom spoke in favor of building the housing community, and some against.

Pete's Harbor owner, lawyer and developer address the public

Uccelli began her statement with a bit of history and appeared to get a bit choked up when she spoke of her husband, the late Pete Uccelli, and how he ran the harbor for decades before passing away in 2005.

"Seven years ago, I never thought I would be managing the harbor without him," she said emotionally.

Uccelli insisted that she cares about the future and well-being of the 52 "live-aboard" residents who rent space in the harbor, but that she no longer wishes to run the harbor herself.

"I will continue to support and volunteer in my community," she said. "I wish my tenants wonderful lives, and blessings to all of you."

Seeming to speak to the naysayers in the audience that are against the sale and development of the luxury waterfront community being proposed, she repeated, "I mean that - blessings to all of you."

She finished by saying, "I know change can be hard, but new beginnings are exciting."

Next, Uccelli's lawyer, Ted Hannig, spoke.

He prefaced his statements by saying that he is trying not to take the attacks of those against the development personally, though he said that "it definitely hurt" when people called him "a liar" in the City Council meeting a couple weeks ago.

"My family was watching that on TV," he said. "So that definitely hurt. But I'm trying not to take it personally. I respect everyone's feelings on the matter. But we ask that you respect our property rights as well."

Hannig refuted accusations against Uccelli that she was leaving her live-aboard tenants with little to no notice that they must vacate - possibly by the end of this year - if the proposed development is approved.

Hannig pointed out letters given to tenants dating as far back as July warning the tenants that the sale of the land could happen sometime in the near future. Since then, Hannig said roughly 28 percent of tenants have already vacated voluntarily upon being notified of the potential sale.

“So, as you can see, people who choose to have been able to find other locations,” he said.

Also, Hannig said Uccelli planned to be lenient with her tenants, and has agreed to let tenants vacate their month-to-month leases immediately and without notice if they wished, without having to finish out the month, and with their deposits being applied to their balances immediately.

"She's agreeing to do that even though the leases technically don't allow that," Hannig explained.

Hannig then proceeded to point out the negative outcomes of the public trying to hold up the approval of the development any further than it already has been.

He started by explaining that, as someone who has been a boater all his life, he feels that the vacating of the live-aboard tenants and the development of the land into a private marina would benefit the environment and quality of the water in the harbor.

“The live-aboards are not necessarily the best thing for our environment,” Hannig said, explaining that the boats' showers and sinks dump into the bay, and though their toilets empty into holding tanks, those tanks can sometimes fail.

"Therefore, this development will help improve water quality," he added. 

At that point, Planning Commission Chair Ernie Schmidt interrupted Hannig to chastise the audience for snickering.

"I warned you," Schmidt said. "I will adjourn this meeting if I have to." 

Hannig wrapped up his comments by adding that each day the approval of the development is delayed, it prevents more than $9 million in funds from coming into the city, and 2,000 construction workers can’t start their new jobs on the site.

After Hannig finished his comments, developer Paul Powers took time to present slides describing what the proposed development would look like, and the features it would include.

Members of the public express opinions to the Commission

Though the discussion was eventually cut short due to the long list of people who wished to speak both for and against the development, roughly 10 people did get the chance to speak before Tuesday night's meeting ended - some in favor, and some against.

One speaker who got the biggest reaction from the room was a friend of Paula Uccelli's, who compared the current live-aboard tenants who are against the development to "couch surfers" taking advantage of a good friend. She accused them of being "too lazy to move on."

Her statements prompted vocal expressions of shock and disbelief from many in the audience, and once again, Commission Chair Ernie Schmidt stepped in.

Occupy Redwood City member James Lee told Patch after the meeting, "We found her comments really offensive."

Lee also criticized Schmidt's handling of the meeting by pointing out that he found it unfair that Schmidt would allow someone to make what he felt were rude and offensive comments without chastisement, yet members of the audience were reprimanded for having vocal reactions to them.

Lee, an active member of Occupy movements all over the Bay Area, as well as a member of Peninsula Direct Action, told Patch that many live-aboard tenants have told him that they feel they are being "harassed and intimidated" about vacating the harbor and supporting the development.

More discussion, and possible vote, will take place Oct. 30

The Planning Commission voted to continue the discussion of the proposed development at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday night, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. 

At that time, Commissioner Schmidt said anyone who did not already speak at this week's Oct. 16 meeting will be given time to address the Commission and audience. If the Commission is then satisfied with all the information and public opinion that has been delivered, they may decide to vote on whether or not to approve Uccelli's application to develop the harbor.

Patch will continue to update this story.

 

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Alison Madden October 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Note people were not snickering when Hannig alleged that black water leaks into the Bay they gasped in horror and shock. Note also that Mrs. Uccelli's friend who called paying tenants "couch surfers" was not admonished, but another person addressing the crowd was admonished seriously when he questioned the empathy and community building award that was proposed to have been given to Mrs. Uccelli October 25th. Note also that neither the "liar" comment nor any other negative or pejorative things have been said against Mr. Hannig or Mrs. Uccelli by any current or former tenant. These things were said by active community members, but not requested nor endorsed or proposed by Save Pete's Harbor. We insist on following and taking the high road even if the City and our opponents are not. We are focussed on land use (vs strictly zoning CGR) and lack of notice, process, sunshine and abhorrent governance for a long-time "commercial" marina that will be gone forever if Redwood City rubber stamps this shocking proposal.

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