Ted Hannig, attorney for Pete's Harbor owner Paula Uccelli, sent Patch documentation Wednesday confirming that a large check has been sent to the State Lands Commission (SLC) in an attempt to resolve the issue of Uccelli's back rent owed on the outer harbor.
It was revealed last month that - as the SLC owns the outer harbor of Pete's Harbor and leases it to Uccelli for management - Uccelli has never paid the agreed-upon rent to the SLC during the 28 years the lease has been in effect.
However, Hannig sent a multiple-page letter to the state's public land manager, Grace Kato, along with a check, accusing the state of repeatedly acting inappropriately with regards to its practices for collecting rent on its leases, and of illegally trying to come between Paula Uccelli and her tenants at Pete's Harbor.
Hannig's letter indicated that the state recently demanded Uccelli pay a total of $409,253.24 in two separate checks ($229,896.21 and $179,357.03, respectively), and that two checks for those amounts were sent to the state by Hannig and Uccelli this past Monday, Jan. 7.
In his letter, Hannig indicated that the state has refused to send him and Uccelli a break-down of how the state calculated that amount - particularly since Hannig claims that it is illegal for a landlord to attempt to collect more than four years' worth of back rent from a tenant.
Hannig also reiterated that Uccelli has made countless efforts to pay her rent on time over the past 28 years of the lease, but the state has refused to accept payment or tell her who and where to send the payments to.
Because of that, Hannig stated during a Dec. 5 meeting with the State Lands Commission that Uccelli opened a separate bank account labeled "State Lands" long ago, and has been depositing all rent checks from tenants of the state-owned outer harbor ever since, just waiting to be told where to send it.
Hannig's letter also accuses the state of "engaging in conduct designed to coerce [Uccelli] into paying the sums that the [state] demands by improper pressure and duress," by threatening to take away her lease if she did not pay the non-itemized and "unjustly" large amounts.
He also said that, over the past couple of months that they have been trying to get this matter resolved, the state has sent representatives to talk with Uccelli that have been "verbally abusive" to her.
Has the SLC been talking with Pete's Harbor tenants on the side?
Hannig's letter also indicated that, on Dec. 28, the state contacted Uccelli and offered to extend Uccelli's allotted time to resolve her financial matters with the state if she agreed to let the tenants of Pete's Harbor remain on the property for a while longer, while she makes repairs she has long been planning to do this month once all tenants had moved out of the harbor.
Hannig implied that it was improper for the state to do that since remaining on the property while repairs are being conducted could put the tenants and their property at risk of "injury and damage."
Hannig also blatantly accused the state of talking to the tenants of Pete's Harbor privately, which he said constitutes "unlawful interference in [Uccelli's] contracts and business."
The letter implies that tenants have made attempts to contact the SLC - which, Hannig implies he thinks is in regards to the possibility of the tenants themselves taking over the lease on the outer harbor if it is taken away from Uccelli. The letter adds that the state has failed to tell the tenants such communication is inappropriate while a settlement had still not been reached, and that that constitutes the state's approval of such actions.
Pete's Harbor tenants have less than a week left
If Uccelli's issues with the state get resolved, Uccelli could be allowed to move forward with the sale of Pete's Harbor to Colorado-based developer Pauls Corporation - who is already hard at work building the nearby One Marina Homes - to build a 411-unit luxury waterfront housing community.
The proposed development has already received unanimous approval by the Redwood City Planning Commission.
Though members of the group Save Pete's Harbor 2012 - made up of both tenants and non-tenant supporters - have filed an official appeal of that approval decision, Uccelli already served all tenants and businesses of Pete's Harbor with eviction notices, asking them to move out no later than Jan. 15, next week.
A hearing for the appeal is scheduled with the Planning Commission on Jan. 28, nearly two weeks after the tenants have to have vacated the harbor.
Already, a significant number of Pete's Harbor tenants have moved out in anticipation of being evicted so the property can be sold. In addition, though Uccelli gave the owners until Jan. 15, the Waterfront Restaurant at Pete's Harbor closed before the holidays.
Patch has attempted to contact tenants of Pete's Harbor and a representative of the State Lands Commission for comment, and will update this story if and when our calls are returned.
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