Marina owner, city “icon,” dies suddenly
Daily News Staff Writer
September 23, 2005
Peter Uccelli, who founded the Redwood City marina known as Pete’s Harbor, died early yesterday of a heart attack in Marina del Rey while visiting friends. He was 84.
Friends yesterday mourned the death of the man they hailed as kind and generous.
“He was an icon,” said former mayor Brent Britschgi. “He was a kind man — if you had a problem, you could go to Pete and he would help you out.”
“He was a dear friend and a beautiful man,” said City Council Member Diane Howard. “He will be missed by so many in Redwood City.”
Born in South San Francisco April 5, 1921, Uccelli came to Redwood City in 1949 and opened a bar called Pete’s Tonga Club. In 1954, he bought a 21-acre Bayfront marina, dubbing it Pete’s Harbor. The marina has since grown to a 280-slip dock.
That land became the center of more than one struggle between Uccelli and environmental groups. In the early 1970s, local environmentalists challenged his title to the property, hoping to turn the land into open space. The attempt was unsuccessful.
More recently, the Redwood City Council approved plans for the Marina Shores project, which would have rezoned the Pete’s Harbor property and brought 17 multi-story towers with 1,930 residential units, 150,000 square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space to the Bayfront. That proposal was overturned by voters last November and has become a sticking point in the upcoming City Council elections.
Resident Ralph Nobles, who led the opposition to Marina Shores, said he and Uccelli always got along even though they came down on opposite sides of the political fence.
“I always liked him,” Nobles said. “He did a lot of good things for Redwood City and supported many good causes.”
In 1974, Uccelli opened a restaurant at the harbor called the Harbor House, then sold the eatery in 1997. He never owned a boat of his own, but was a private pilot who regularly flew to a property he owned in Nevada.
Uccelli donated to a number of local organizations, including Kainos Home and Training Center, an agency that helps the developmentally disabled; the Sequoia Hospital Foundation; the Police Athletic League; and a scholarship foundation which has given more than $400,000.
“For all the years he was here, he was a community-minded man. We could use a lot more of them,” Britschgi said. Less than a week ago, Uccelli grieved with Britschgi on the death of his father, Carl Britschgi, a former Assembly member and Redwood City mayor.
Uccelli is survived by his wife of 38 years, Paula; his son, Richard, of Redwood City; his daughters, Sharon Edwards of New York and Patricia Letelier of Idaho; and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be made through Crippen & Flynn of Redwood City, and are expected to take place early next week, according to Howard. Those arrangements had not been finalized at press time.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to Kainos, the Sequoia Hospital Foundation, the Police Activities League, or any other local charity.
This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.