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Pete's Harbor tenants appeal development plans approval
November 15, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

The fight to keep Pete's Harbor from converting into 411 waterfront residences is still afloat after tenants of the Redwood City boating community appealed the project's approval and asked the City Council to slow down and scale back any development.

As its basis for the appeal, the group Save Pete's Harbor 2012 cited the city's general plan's statements to include liveaboard tenants in any new development, the historical elements and the "insufficiency” of the decade-old environmental document used as part of the approval process.

"The 2010 General Plan specifically lauded liveaboard floating communities as a feature to be protected at Pete's Harbor and elsewhere in Redwood City,” said group representative Alison Madden in a prepared statement regarding the 18-page appeal.

The City Council has 90 days within which to hear the appeal and a specific meeting date has yet to be set, said city spokesman Malcolm Smith.

But even if the appeal staves off a decision, owner Paul Uccelli's attorney Ted Hannig said the remaining tenants will still be evicted come Jan. 15.

"Paula has given notice to everyone whether the project goes through or not as part of her retirement plan,” Hannig said. "The marina and the rest of Pete's Harbor will be vacated probably well before we know if the project goes forward.”

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the planned development permit and a parking exception Oct. 30. The decision came after several hours of testimony across two meetings from opponents who argued the plan was moving too fast and does away with precious affordable housing. Supporters countered that development was the ultimate goal of the marina's founder, Pete Uccelli, and selling the 21-acre harbor to developer Pauls Corporation is his widow's right.

The project, to be located on the north side of Highway 101 between Bair Island Road and Redwood Creek, calls for 411 multi-family housing units in buildings between three and five stories, a community pool and approximately 263 slips in a private marina. All existing commercial operations at the marina will cease and any future boat mooring limited to apartment tenants.

The proposal didn't require zoning changes and therefore no special approvals by the city because it does not include high-rise buildings or the filling in of the Bay. The city also said the previously certified environmental impact report for the earlier now-defunct Marina Shores Village project that included Pete's Harbor was sufficient.

But those who filed the appeal disagree, arguing the EIR was not enough and should have required public circulation. Madden also argued the city "fast-tracked” the application to get it before the Planning Commission within three months of the July 23 filing rather than the more standard four to six months and, along with Uccelli and the developer, kept the process concealed from the tenants.

If the Planning Commission and City Council knew the breadth of the public opposition, the process would have been extended rather than brushed aside, Madden said.

The appeal asks the council to "immediately shift the discussion into an Inner Harbor Precise Plan” for consideration of the impact on the entire inlet including public access and parking.

Since June 2002, Paula Uccelli has required all live-aboard leases to include language acknowledging the possibility of relocation. All leases the past 12 years have also been month-to month because of the sale potential. At the last meeting, Hannig, told the Planning Commission that as of that point, 52 live-aboard tenants, or 41 percent, had already left voluntarily and he added yesterday the number continues being a steady stream.

Even if Uccelli and developer Paul Powers prevails before the City Council, Uccelli will probably need permission from the California State Lands Commission and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

Hannig said what is frustrating is not so much the appeal, as that is the group's right, but what it means.

"What frustrates me is that 2,000 people won't get jobs right away. What frustrates me is the millions of dollars our schools won't get and the roads that won't get built,” he said.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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