If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve been tweeting about saving a place called Pete’s Harbor. My friend Leslie lives there on a tiny boat and takes care of her beautiful, blind dog Lily. When I heard that a developer had plans to build luxury condos resulting in eviction for the Pete’s Harbor community, I knew that I had to take action and that you might want to help.
If you don’t have time to read this post, but want help, please sign this petition to save Pete’s Harbor.
Get to know Leslie and see why I love her and want to help.
How did you decide to live on a little boat?
I was living in a great little cottage, but one day I looked at my bank statement and realized all my money was going toward rent, groceries, and dog food. I was working seven days a week, making more money than I’d ever made, but never having any fun. I decided that was crazy. I knew I couldn’t afford a house or condo in the Bay Area, and anyway, the idea of spending that much money made me hyperventilate. I grew up by the ocean, worked on cruise ships, and lived on a Greek island, so living on a boat was really appealing — and affordable.
What are the pros/cons of living on a boat?
The pros: Everything. The community. Living so close to nature. Being aware of the seasons. Living simply and deliberately, with a small footprint. The affordability.
The cons: For some people, the cons are not having enough room for all their stuff, not being able to have a washer and dryer, and the maintenance. I was used to laundromats, I don’t own that much stuff, and anyone has to do maintenance on a home they own. I’d rather hose down my boat than mow a lawn, I’d rather caulk around my windows than clear clogged rain gutters. Honestly, I think the only con for me is that if you have a plumbing problem, you can’t just call up any old plumber.
How long have you lived in Pete’s Harbor?
October 14th is my fourth anniversary. I can only hope I’ll be celebrating my fifth, and sixth, and 20th, here.
Tell us a little bit about the Pete’s Harbor community?
Our community is what makes the harbor so amazing. We’re very close-knit. We all share in common the fact that we love being here, we love boats, we love living on the water. Because of sheer proximity, you become closer to the people on your dock than on others, but still, it’s like a small village with neighborhoods. I love that I live near my friends. I love that I have people I can count on for just about anything. I love being able to walk just a few feet and share a glass of wine, dinner, a conversation, or a walk.
Will you describe a typical morning in Pete’s Harbor and on your boat?
I’m not a morning person because Lily gets me up in the middle of the night — it makes it hard for me to get out of bed a few hours later. But sometimes I’m outside with Lily at 4 am and it’s so silent, and the sky is so clear and the stars so bright, it’s worth it, I don’t care what time it is or that she woke me out of a sound sleep. I’m lucky: Because I mostly work from home, it usually doesn’t matter what time I get up. Some days I’m up early, and the sky’s pink, and it’s chilly but warming up as the sun comes up, and I can hear and see the rowers, and a flock of geese flies overhead, honking, and I think I should always get up that early. Some days I’m up later, and when I head over to the showers, I run into neighbors and end up talking to them and lose track of time, and get sunburned. Some days I don’t see anyone until later. One day I’ll jump on the computer and eat my berries and almonds and drink my decaf, and then shower. The next day it’s the other way around.
If this condo project is approved, will everyone be evicted?
Yes. Some people have lived here for over 20 years, one man has been here for 40. Most of us can’t imagine living anywhere else, without our community.
Tell us about Lily and the impact it would have on her to have to relocate?
I was really worried when Lily and I moved to the houseboat, and I shouldn’t have worried at all. She adjusted without a hitch. But now she’s an old dog. She knows the smells, she knows the people, she knows how many steps it is from our boat to the ramp, how to negotiate the ramp, exactly where to go when we reach the top. I’m trying not to think about her having to re-learn all that at 15 (although she’s always been such a star, I’m sure she could). And I have one friend/neighbor who, I swear, is nicer to her than I am. What will she do without him?
What are the logistics of moving a boat and finding a new place to dock/live?
This situation is really difficult. Hundreds of people are all looking for places to live at the same time, in an area where there aren’t many liveaboard slips available, at a time when America’s Cup visitors have taken up slips, and, to make it even more difficult, when we don’t know if the sale will definitely go through. It’s all a gamble. It means a lot of phone calls, waiting lists, visits to marinas, trying to figure out what is most important to you. Some people are choosing to just move, and it breaks my heart. Some of us are more optimistic. I’ve heard quite a few people say that they’ll be here until the very last day, even if it does sell. I don’t want to leave my community, my friends, until I absolutely have to. I’ve said that I’ll be the last one here, waving goodbye, but I think I’ll have some competition.
What is the best thing about the way you live and where you live?
The best thing? Every single thing. Moving here completely changed my life. I am not the same person I was. I have never, ever regretted my decision to buy a boat and move to Pete’s Harbor. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
What will you miss the most about Pete’s Harbor?
Not just one thing. Everything. The community. The seabirds, harbor seal, bat ray, leopard shark. The beauty. The climate. The cats and dogs. Living in a town I’ve grown to love. But mostly, the community. My neighbors, my friends. I cannot even begin to imagine not living near them.
There are many of us who think the harbor will not be developed according to the current plan. We respect the owner’s wish to sell, but we hope that the plan will be revised, that the property will be developed in a scaled-down way that is more in keeping with nature, that respects the location and the wildlife that live here, that allows public access to the bay, and that we will be able to remain as liveaboards. We choose to be hopeful. We choose not to just lie down and accept that this crazy project will happen. We choose not to just give up.
How can readers of Be More with Less help Save Pete’s Harbor?
By signing this petition (http://www.change.org/
Please take action
You don’t have to live in California to sign the petition, so please take action and …
- Sign this petition
Share Leslie’s story on or with …
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- A Billboard
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- Your mom or anyone else that will sign the petition and bring awareness to the Pete’s Harbor plight.
The Be More with Less community is amazing! We choose people over stuff and time over money. We choose tight-knit communities over luxury housing developments.
Photo credits: Leslie, Redwood City Patch and Brenda Hattery