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State Weighs in on Pete's Harbor Development Debate

The State Lands Commission confirmed in a letter that their approval of a lease transfer to Pauls Corporation is required for the development to move forward.

Patch has obtained a copy of a letter sent by the California State Lands Commission (SLC) to the City of Redwood City regarding the controversial development proposal by Pauls Corporation for a 411-unit waterfront condo community and the privatization of all boat slips in the marina for the condos' residents.

The letter, dated Jan. 25, written by Grace Kato, the SLC's Public Lands Manager, in essence confirms that the Uccellis' two leases covering the outer harbor area of Pete's Harbor cannot be transferred to Pauls Corporation for the development he proposes without requesting formal permission from the SLC, and would be dependent upon the SLC's approval of such a request.

The letter also implies that such a request might be questionable, because the original leases between the SLC and Pete's Harbor's namesake founder, Pete Uccelli, specified that the harbor must be operated as a commercial marina, and Pauls Corporation has indicated it would privatize all the harbor's boat slips and reserve them for the residents of the new waterfront homes.

With regards to the one of the two leases - the larger lease - Kato's letter said, "The terms of this lease provide that it may be transferred or assigned, consistent with the uses authorized under the lease, upon prompt notice to [the SLC]."

But, with regards to the smaller of the two leases, Kato said, "[The smaller lease] has slightly different terms in several respects, one of which requires [the SLC's] consent prior to any transfer or assignment."

Interestingly, Kato then said that, as of Jan. 25, the SLC has not received any notice that Paula Uccelli intends or wishes to transfer the leases to Pauls Corporation, nor has she requested permission to do so.

Kato then addressed the issue of the leases' terms, addressing how the marina must be operated.

"Moreover, while [the larger lease] does not require the SLC's consent for all transfers or assignments, SLC approval is necessary for a change of use from what the leases dictate."

"The express terms of each lease require the facilities at Pete's Harbor to be continuously operated as a 'commercial marina.' To date, the position of the SLC has been that the intended conversion of the site to a private marina would not satisfy the requirement that the lease site be operated as a 'commercial marina,' and thus would require an application for a lease amendment, or new lease."

"Accordingly," Kato continued, "in this instance, SLC consent would be required for the change of use proposed for [the larger lease]. The SLC has not received an application for an amendment, new lease, or other action that would authorize a private marina at the site, nor has the SLC given such approval."

James Lee, a member of Occupy Redwood City who has been actively supporting the efforts of the Pete's Harbor tenants and members of the group Save Pete's Harbor to keep the marina from being privatized, said Thursday evening he was disappointed all the harbor tenants weren't able to see the SLC's letter before the decision was made between Save Pete's Harbor member Alison Madden, the City of Redwood City, and Pauls Corporation to postpone Save Pete's Harbor's appeal hearing, which was scheduled to be heard by the City Council on Monday.

"I am really shocked this wasn't made public to harbor tenants. The SLC's response to the City basically vindicates our position and indicates success for our appeal. Which means there's no reason our appeal had to be postponed."

Patch will continue to follow this story.

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Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 04, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I was commenting on James Lee's conclusion that you and the city decided to not let the SLC members know of the letter before jointly agreeing to postpone the meeting. If you were a sitting or retired judge, or practiced real estate law, (or were even authorized to represent anyone but yourself in this matter) I would consider your opinion on public trust law more highly. The reality is, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle last week, that the SLC has, since it was formed at the state's admission to the union, sold off millions of acres of land to private use and no one has questioned those transactions ... until you came along. So it's still you spinning.
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 04, 2013 at 08:45 PM
Smith Slough is, in fact, public land and the SLC grants leases for specific uses. Among those uses CAN be a public, commercial marina. It does not HAVE to be public commercial marina with liveaboards, however. It doesn't even HAVE to be a MARINA. In the most recent plans, however, is consideration for a pubic marina, without liveaboards, a kayak launching facility (which will be the best way of exploring the restored Bair Island) and a public park. The only thing you have is your desire and those of a dozen others to live there. That is something that you will have to take to the SLC and convince them that the best use of this land is to let a dozen people live there on boats. I'm not so sure that is the best use, by my opinion is every bit as valuable as yours.
Alison Madden February 04, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Lou, I've just done a PRA to the City asking for the email attaching the doc (that's been standard practice for a couple years now). My hunch is that it was a .pdf attachment sent on Friday. Blake sent a letter on Wed. I bet it was also sent by email. Thursday we spoke in public comment and SLC went into closed session. Friday Grace sent her email .pdf. I will shout from the rooftops if I am wrong. Will that make you happy? I'll let you know what the City says. alison
Barb Valley February 04, 2013 at 10:26 PM
This from a posting on Occupy Redwood City's website three days ago: " Blake Lyon, the City’s Planning Manager, wrote in a correspondence to an ORWC member that: On Monday, January 28, 2013 the City received a response email from SLC with a pdf attached letter dated Friday, January 25, 2013.”
Lou Covey, The Local Motive February 04, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Barb, you always amaze me with your ability to find facts. Thank you.

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