The following opinion was submitted to Patch by Alison Madden.
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As many people know, an out-of-state developer, the Pauls Corproation of Denver, Colorado, has made an offer to Paula Uccelli, owner of Pete's Harbor in Redwood City, California, to buy the site at One Uccelli Blvd. in Redwood City.
The proposed development by the Pauls Corporation requires ejection of the liveaboard tenants; closure of the commercial - albeit privately owned - marina and harbor; and closure and destruction of the Waterfront Restaurant, a beloved space for weddings, quinceañeras and other private events. The proposed development results in 100 percent residential use with no commercial amenities or liveaboards.
The "Save Pete's Harbor - 2012" coalition is not at all opposed to some development at One Uccelli Blvd. in Redwood City. In fact, SPH-2012 endorses using the existing zoning, but with a Mixed Use - Marina land use designation, which the City has available.
It should be noted that SPH-2012 is not just current tenants who don’t want to be ejected, and who want to keep their homes (which are their boats). Although that is true, hundreds of local citizens have expressed support through petitions and other activities, and are saying the high-density luxury housing is not what they want, and they want to keep a harbor and marina at Pete’s.
Much like the Save Pete's Harbor drive in the late '70s and early '80s, the locals want to have a say. In addition, the State of California owns the outer harbor under the public trust doctrine, and the people of the State of California, through the legislature, stepped in to secure title for Pete to the land, and the outer harbor is under "commercial" lease by the State Lands Commission, which has not yet weighed in on privatizing the outer harbor for non-commercial purposes. The legislation assumed significant public access via the restaurant and commercial harbor and marina.
Also, the City should develop an Inner Harbor Precise Plan as the General Plan contemplates (and like it has at downtown, Peninsula Marina and Maple Street), and this development should be phase one in that Precise Plan (which was begun in June of this year, but left idle at surprisingly the same time as the Pauls Corp filed its application in July 2012).
One Uccelli Blvd. should be phase one in that Precise Plan process with all stakeholders involved and, at a minimum, a study session should be undertaken (the Costco gas pumps had one).
The City's suggestion otherwise would ignore the 'no' vote on Measure Q and the fact that no development has been proposed on this site since the last proposal was withdrawn in 2008 (and, all prior proposals and communications from the office suggested no change to the marina/harbor and liveaboards staying).
We also would like clarification into whether and when the land use was changed from marina to waterfront as various parts of the Plan suggest. Specifically, a Marina land use designation would allow a number of three-story buildings, along with commercial use and a commercial marina, and the amenities could be added such as a bay trail, greenery, and a kayak ramp.
Residents have been asking for improvements like these for years. Many residents would have pitched in to have helped Mrs. Uccelli on these improvements, much like people have done all along at Pete’s Harbor. There is plenty of space now to remove some mini-storage near the outer harbor and have a sidewalk, green. and open space, and a bocce ball court.
This is not a reflection on the tenants that these improvements have not occurred. However, the City is using a Mixed Use - Waterfront designation that allows building 411 residences for 100 percent residential use, and ejecting the restaurant and marina liveaboards, with private slips only available for buyers or renters of the complex. No commercial activity will be available to the public at all - no restaurants or shops, and no commercial liveaboards.
This is irresponsible development that displaces a community without local remediation - a violation of the Environmental Impact Report - and that violates the City’s own policies on encouraging alternative and affordable housing via liveaboards.
In addition, with the closure of Peninsula Marina, this same developer has eviscerated the charm of the marine lifestyle on this inlet in Redwood City. Redwood City should want a commercial marina like Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay, and it has that opportunity here.
It is important to refocus the conversation away from tenants and toward voters, who are saying that this is the kind of development they voted down previously, that they do not want it, and that “this is how Redwood City is doing it now”.
The woman who said that was referring to a lengthy investment of private time with developers, then the Planning Commission quickly approving final plans with very limited lead time for the public to be involved. Many voters are rolling their eyes, and one person viewing the plans described it as “looking like San Quentin.”
Voters are angry that the City appears to be attempting piecemeal to get to similar high-density, irresponsible development versus a single, planned community that was revealed all at once - and already voted down, in a very public process (Measure Q in 2004).
A short bio on the writer of this piece, written by her:
Alison Madden is a current tenant at Pete's Harbor, who moved to the site to buy a boat and live on the water. She is a practicing in-house technology attorney and is interested in the right thing for all of Redwood City and the Bay Area - respecting development on this historic and sensitive lands-end spot.