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Harbor Tenants: It's Moving Day, But We Can't Move

Some tenants have found new slips but they won't be ready until February, others are desperately trying to get their boats sea-worthy enough to leave, but aren't finished.

UPDATE, 12:52 P.M.: The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office sent an e-mail to Patch indicating they would not be involved in the eviction of any tenants of the harbor.

"We are not involved in today's eviction, nor does our civil bureau respond out to act as 'muscle' should things get out of hand the way it seems like is being implied," said Detective Rebecca Rosenblatt. "The harbor itself is Redwood City PD's jurisdiction, and any involvement from our civil bureau would only be on direction from a court order, which there isnt one."

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Today is Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 - and though that may be an ordinary day for most of us, it is a day filled with panic for many remaining tenants at Pete's Harbor in Redwood City.

Today is eviction day, as surviving Pete's Harbor owner Paula Uccelli served her tenants with eviction notices recently, despite the fact that the sale to and potential development of her property by Colorado-based developer Pauls Corporation has not been given a definitive green light, as an appeal of the Planning Commission's approval is still on the table, and the future of Uccelli's lease on the outer harbor is still in question with the State Lands Commission (SLC).

However, despite the fact that many tenants say they are fearful of what harbor management will do to them if they are still on the premises after the deadline of midnight tonight, many residents say, they have no choice, and couldn't leave even if they wanted to.

Paul Supplee, who has been a live-aboard for 12 years at Pete's Harbor, says his boat is in no condition to move, though he has already secured a new slip at a marina in Marin. Three months ago, when it became clear he would most likely be evicted from Pete's Harbor, he began shopping for a new boat to move into. However, winter is not boating season, and therefore is not a time when anyone is putting their boats up for sale, he said.

It took him three long months, but he recently found a boat for sale that meets his live-aboard needs in Stockton. But Supplee said the boat needs a few replacement parts, and won't be ready for him to take delivery of for at least another month.

"So, I can't leave now. I'm probably going to have to be here for at least another few weeks," Supplee said.

Supplee is worried because he, like many others, has been told to his face by Uccelli's harbor manager, Giorgio Garilli, that if he is not out by midnight tonight, the Sheriff will come and "seize" or "chain up" his boat.

"If that happens, I'll be homeless," he said, as there is nothing he can do to speed up delivery of his new live-aboard boat.

Supplee says all this is very upsetting and frustrating to him, as he is a tenant of the outer harbor, which is owned by the state and not Uccelli. He said, he sees no reason why the tenants have to be out so quickly, or why Uccelli can't sympathize with tenants that are trying to leave but just can't quite be out by the 15th for various reasons.

"It doesn't make sense, because [the development] plans aren't even approved yet, so they don't need to kick everyone out now. So it's just not right," he said. "It will be months before they'll have the approvals they need to get started."

"Plus, the outer harbor where I live, this is public trust land, that belongs to the state of California - to you, and me, and everyone else," he added. "Paula should be able to do whatever she wants with the inner harbor and I wish her the best, but they're trying to treat the outer harbor like their own property that they can do whatever they want with, and that I object to."

As for the fact that he said he is forced to stay there longer despite his eviction notice, Supplee said, "I will do whatever the court tells me to do, but I won't have a place to live until my new boat is ready to move into, so I'll probably be here at least until the 24th, possibly longer."

For live-aboard resident Buckley Stone, who has lived at the harbor for 20 years, the recent controversy over the harbor's sale and potential development has cost him a longtime friend - Paula Uccelli herself.

When Stone first moved into Pete's Harbor, he had a lucrative job that kept him on the move roughly 25 days out of the month. He said, it made no sense for him to pay rent on an apartment he was never in, so the live-aboard lifestyle fit him perfectly.

Then, sadly, in the 1970s, he developed cancer - and then, even more sadly, he contracted Hepatitis C from the injections from his cancer treatments, which was discovered by his doctors around 2001. 

Stone said, Paula Uccelli was always nice and gracious to him, and even a few times let him skip his rent payments when he was in the thick of chemotherapy treatments. Stone said, Pete and Paula were even guests at his wedding.

Now, everything has changed.

"After Sept 20 [when she announced she was planning to sell the harbor], the whole relationship between Paula and I changed," Stone said. "Their whole attitude toward us changed, to something like we were freeloaders who felt entitled to be here. Since then, we've been used, abused and discarded."

Stone said, he is trying to get his boat in order so that he can move, and he has been clearing out his storage lockers at the harbor of his possessions. His brother, Chris Stone, is coming up from Lemoore, about 20 miles south of Fresno, to help him move today, but he is unsure if he will be ready to leave in time.

For Buckley, though, leaving is a lot scarier than just worrying about honoring his eviction notice - Buckley receives regular healthcare from the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital. His compromised immune system means he has to come in for treatments sometimes as often as twice a week.

Today, even, while he tries to prepare to leave the harbor, Buckley is sick with an upper respiratory infection that the VA Hospital is trying to help him treat with antibiotics, though his delicate immune system has a hard time fighting such an infection.

Moving in the thick of winter is even harder on his health, not to mention dangerous weather for sailing, he said.

"It's the middle of winter, for goodness' sake," he said. "You don't take your boat across the ocean in the middle of winter. It's dangerous."

Buckley said he has felt harassed by Garilli the harbor manager.

"He has been yelling at me, telling me my boat looks ugly and that I need to get out of here," he said. "When I see him, he yells at me, 'Why aren't you gone yet?'" Stone said, even though the eviction date of Jan. 15 had not come yet.

Stone said he is also worried about some safety issues he has seen around the harbor lately.

Stone said the harbor management has all of a sudden started padlocking the electrical breaker boxes that supply power to the boats recently. So, if the power goes out at night - which he says is very possible considering how cold it gets on the boats at night in winter, leading many to run their heaters for long periods of time - they can't go reset the breakers like they have always done in the past.

This could be dangerous not only because of the cold temperatures, which can get down to around 28 degrees sometimes, but because he knows one tenant who needs power for an oxygen tank, and another who is diabetic and must refrigerate his insulin, neither of which they can do without power.

Stone has spoken to the press a few times about the situation at Pete's Harbor, and he still holds out hope that everything will work out. But he says, this is never a fight he imagined finding himself in the middle of.

"I'm not trying to cause trouble, and I certainly never wanted to be an activist," he said.

Leslie Webster, another live-aboard tenant, said she has seen other concerns around the harbor lately, particularly with security.

These days, a large portion of tenants have already left the harbor, and she said, that leaves the several that remain without their built-in security system - each other.

"When there's a lot of boats in a marina, there's increased safety because someone's always around to keep an eye on things. But right now it's so empty," she said.

Webster said she knows fellow tenants in boats, trucks and trailers who have had their units vandalized and belongings stolen. 

"This is not a great place to be right now," she said.

James Lee, who has many friends who live at the harbor, said he has heard scary stories from more than a few of them as well.

"They have told me about multiple incidences of theft, scavengers, and people they've never seen before driving and walking through the harbor late at night," Lee told Patch.

Lee said he thinks it is more likely that those unwanted visitors are the ones responsible for recent threats and vandalism committed against Uccelli, than it was a tenant or a member of the groups Occupy Redwood City or Save Pete's Harbor - particularly since Uccelli's home is at the harbor as well, so she is subject to the same crimes as the tenants.

Webster, a member of Save Pete's Harbor, agreed.

"I am positive it was no one in our organization [that committed any of those acts]. We have always been fair and forward," she said. 

Uccelli and spokesperson send out eviction-day statement

As Patch prepared to publish this story, a last-minute statement was sent out by Paula Uccelli's spokesperson, Adam Alberti of Singer Media.

The statement said Pete's Harbor staff was making themselves "available until close of business tonight to help tenants peacefully relocate their yachts, boats and RVs to new facilities," and that, "on a case-by-case basis, special arrangements have been made for boat owners who have asked Pete’s Harbor for extra time to move their boats."

However, several tenants, such as those interviewed for this article, have told Patch that they asked for extra time and were told a firm "no" by harbor manager Giorgio Garilli.

The statement said, though, "Tenants who have not sought help from harbor staff are encouraged to do so. Staff will be on hand all day to help as needed."

Paula Uccelli included a personal statement of her own, as well.

"We have spent many wonderful years with our tenants, and I am hopeful that they will respect the Harbor and respect the great legacy of my late husband Pete Uccelli on their final day with us," it said. "We encourage any tenant who needs help to please ask. We will do our best to help facilitate a smooth transition to their vessel’s new home."

Patch will continue to follow this story.

 

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Lou Covey, The Local Motive January 21, 2013 at 04:38 PM
Here's my problem. Housing development in San Mateo County is the slowest in the entire nation. Employment growth is one of the fastest in the nation. More people are coming to work in Redwood City now then ever before. 40,000 commuters in an out everyday. That is not sustainable. We have been sitting on our hands for a decade. That is not fast. We need to speed up, not slow down, to be sustainable. So far, we're not getting a lot of suggestions about how to deal with the problem. We have no lack of people telling us to slow down. Rather than stop housing developments and ignore sea rise, we need to combine them, just as the BCDC has suggested. I am in agreement with the BCDC, the Army Corps of engineers and MIT on this When the council considers a development, I hold them not just to looking at housing, but effective housing. Unfortunately for the tenants at Pete's, this development meets a lot of the criteria. Yes, that is my opinion, but as you have pointed out, I'm entitled to that.
Alan January 21, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Lou, thanks for the response. That's all I was looking for... And just to be clear, I never stated anything linking you to any public official or any financial contributions to any public official. As for Paula helping tenants...I've heard great things about the Uccelli's in the past and of Paula herself. I wouldn't dare besmirch that. My point was that they were poorly prepared for their announcement to the tenants and should have had things ready at that meeting and not release some website two weeks before the eviction. I was there for that September meeting and I have to admit being personally offended at not being straight with us up front, and instead making us sit through what felt like a timeshare pitch. That...was obnoxious. It should have been simply an announcement and some immediate resources in place to help people move quickly and efficiently at that moment. That said...I still don't agree with the outer harbor being privatized. That's my opinion. As for payoff "slurs," I've only stated facts regarding contributions to local officials and how that looks. It looks suspicious. Doesn't matter if it had no impact, it matters how it appears to the public.
Alan January 21, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Lou, those are very good points, but I'd answer that this development could still exist and still have a public marina. There's no reason why Pauls has to have the outer docks. They can still build and leave the docks in place for both liveaboards and recreational boaters. Those outer docks will not make the difference between whether this deal is profitable or not or whether people will rent/buy. I'll bet dollars to donuts that they'll have a hell of a time filling those slips with boats from tenants. Just ask the apartment complex behind/in front of Pete's. As the BCDC said...there is room for a compromise here, and I'm certain the boaters are open to one, but I don't hear any talk of compromise from the other side. This could all go away with a simple discussion.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive January 21, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I think I said several times that I agree on this point ;). That all not be taken care of at the city level. That's between the developer, the commission and whoever comes forward with a proposal. The developer has a right to his opinion. Here's an idea, though, residents who don't have a boat could lease there's out to a non resident. Al it needs is someone who once ran a large website. Know anyone?
Adam Alberti February 01, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Remember this thread...if only there was an offer that would have financially helped these boaters fix their vessel and keep the marina open and public...oh wait

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