The Redwood City Council is set to pay $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a neighbor of the Docktown Marina for violating the state’s public trust laws.
The houseboats at the marina technically float on a state waterway that the California Attorney General’s Office has informally ruled is a violation of the public trust, meaning it prevents the general public from accessing the water.
The city is set to put aside $3 million of the settlement into a fund to clean up any environmental messes the floating community has caused to Redwood Creek and to help residents of the marina to relocate elsewhere.
The remaining $1.5 million will be paid to attorney Ted Hannig, who filed the complaint against the city in early November.
Both Mayor John Seybert and Vice Mayor Ian Bain discussed the terms of the settlement with Docktown residents Thursday night.
The seven-person council is set to vote on whether to approve the settlement at its Monday night meeting.
Hannig, who is also the Daily Journal’s attorney, said Friday that the settlement does not necessarily mean Docktown’s fate is sealed.
“The settlement actually provides a future for Docktown,” Hannig said Friday.
It will be up to the State Lands Commission to rule on whether Docktown can stay where it is, he said.
Under terms of the settlement, the city must develop an action plan by the end of 2016 to bring the marina into legal compliance and must show progress by the end of 2017, Hannig said.
Some Docktown residents, however, think its too premature for the council to approve the settlement so quickly.
“A settlement can be reached much further down the line and should not take place without an investigation of the merits of the case,” Docktown resident Lee Callister said.
He also said the deadlines established in the settlement “are rushed and arbitrary.”
The idea too that Docktown residents can just relocate to nearby Ferrari Pond is also not viable, Callister said.
The Inner Harbor Specific Plan being circulated now shows a marina in place at the Ferrari Pond but the land is privately owned and there are no guarantees the owners would accept residents of Docktown to relocate there.
Hannig’s complaint also alleged that the houseboats at Docktown sit in water that contains some of the most contaminated of all San Francisco Bay Area mud.
The houseboats “scrape against and agitate the Bay mud, thereby releasing toxic hull paint and other contaminants into the surrounding environment,” Hannig wrote in the complaint.
Hannig sued collectively on behalf of all citizens of California since public trust lands should be accessible by all and not just the 100 or so people who call Docktown home.
Hannig lives at One Marina Homes across the creek from Docktown.
The complaint also alleged someone at Docktown fired a high-velocity golf ball at Hannig while he was unloading groceries in the garage. He believes it was done in retaliation for making social media posts in the past concerning the environmental and public trust violations related to the marina.
As far as the settlement is concerned, Hannig said it if the council does not accept it that the city could incur much more legal fees and costs related to the complaint.
The City Council meets 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 25, City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102