The revamped proposal to develop Pete’s Harbor into 411 condominiums and a commercial marina met with unanimous approval by Redwood City planning commissioners after an overwhelming outpouring of support for the plan.
Before Tuesday night’s vote in favor of the necessary permits and map, the Planning Commission heard primarily from development backers but also from former tenants and community advocates with lingering disapproval of the water community’s demise.
The “massive gentrification” is not good for Redwood City and the obvious “popularity of the former owner is just not relevant,” Alison Madden, a tenant representative and founder of nonprofit San Francisco Bay Marinas for All, said after several speakers praised Paula Uccelli for her community work.
In place of the quirky community of live-aboard tenants and public marina users developer Paul Powers proposes a complex of condominiums to be rented out as apartments, along with the marina, parking and trails.
Several speakers urged the Planning Commission to favor the plan, speed along the process and let Uccelli go forward with her plans.
“Paula Uccelli has every right to do what she wants with her own land,” attorney Tony Gibbs said.
Small business owner Josh Perry said the new housing will help growing companies draw employees and other speakers lauded the public access.
The Planning Commission approved the original development proposal last year but the City Council sent it back for reconsideration because of significant changes made after the fact. Powers originally eliminated the commercial slips, then proposed an outer marina of about 150 spaces and now calls for 45 to 65 publicly available. There will be no live-aboards allowed.
The proposed residential buildings will range from three stories to five stories and contain studios to three-bedroom units. The latest plan also calls for up to 883 parking spaces and a new 460-foot-long bicycle and pedestrian trail connection on the west side of Uccelli Boulevard linking public trails to the Bair Island Bridge and other southern areas.
Neither the previous nor current proposal 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 previously certified 2003 environmental impact report for the earlier now-defunct Marina Shores Village project that included Pete’s Harbor is considered sufficient.
A small sliver of speakers called the EIR woefully out of date and in need of more evaluation on topics like sea-level rise.
Powers resubmitted his proposal in July 2013 and Redwood City has hosted two public workshops to cull input prior to last night’s discussion and vote. The top three topics at the events were affordable housing, parking and bike sharing and sea-level rise, said Planning Manager Blake Lyon.
Lyon said a lot of support for the project was also voiced at the workshops.
Overwhelming support was also shared by speakers at the meeting.
“I think this has gone on way too long ... and it’s time to make a decision,” resident Susan Swope said.
But Buckley Stone, a former Pete’s Harbor tenant who lives in Oakland now, had a different perspective.
“The reason this is taking so long is because it’s so wrong,” he said.
The Planning Commission apparently disagreed, with several members saying they were excited by the project and its included public access.
“I’m ready to approve this,” Commissioner Rachel Holt said.
The same sentiment came from commissioners Randy Tabing and Kevin Bondonno, both who supported the project the first time around. With the modifications, both said they back it even more.
Tuesday night’s resolution was relatively quiet compared to the tug-of-war of legal battles and raucous city hearings that began in late 2012 when Uccelli made plans to sell her property and informed tenants of the their possible pending eviction. Several tenants sued Uccelli, claiming the plan to transfer the harbor lease to Powers and the Pauls Corp. was illegal because it lacked a commercial marina. The suit was dropped after a judge refused to temporarily halt the evictions. Uccelli then terminated her lease with the State Lands Commission and removed the docks. All tenants eventually left and Powers added the marina component.
In addition to the new housing, Powers at the meeting touted other benefits such as new jobs and $2.4 million in property tax for schools after an initial $1.6 million infusion.
The project must still get approval from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
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