Ten-year-old Christina D'Andrea says her friends think it's neat that she lives on a boat. She thinks so too.
But after living aboard the "Little Christina" in Redondo Beach's King Harbor for nearly five years, she may not be there much longer.
The marina management is trying to evict Christina and her father, Lou, saying children are not allowed to live on boats there.
"I feel sort of bad," Christina said. "In a way, I don't think it's really fair what they're doing to me and my dad."
Lou D'Andrea said he will fight the eviction. He said he told the marina's manager in 1983 that he would buy the boat and rent a slip only if his daughter was allowed to live with him. D'Andrea said the manager, who no longer works for the company, agreed.
Child Not Hidden
"This was brought up right up front," he said, "because this boat didn't cost me (only) a nickel and a dime. I wouldn't buy a boat if I was going to have to get off."
D'Andrea said he has been paying for both him and his daughter to live aboard the boat since they moved there. He now pays about $400 a month in rent and fees.
Les Guthrie, general partner of Marina Cove Ltd., which operates the marina, said management has known that a child lives on the boat only since last October, when another tenant complained.
In an interview, Guthrie said the management believed that the live-aboard fees were being paid for Lou D'Andrea and his partner, John Landi. The two are co-owners of the 38-foot motorboat where D'Andrea and his daughter live and a 24-foot motorboat that is also docked at Guthrie's marina. Landi said he does not live on either boat.
But a child living on board is only part of the problem the company has had with D'Andrea and Landi, Guthrie said.
The two men have a long history of late payments for the boat-slip rentals and live-aboard fees--five bad checks and more than 35 notices for delinquent payments--and D'Andrea has been abusive to other tenants and employees, according to Guthrie.
He likened his contract with the two men to a bad marriage, saying he has simply had enough and wants a divorce. "We decided to divorce him, and we don't think it's a federal offense," he said.
D'Andrea acknowledged the payment problems but said they were not extensive. He said he and Landi paid late fees in some cases.
To hear D'Andrea tell it, the real problem started in October, when many harbor tenants were becoming more vocal at City Council meetings, complaining about Guthrie's company and other problems at King Harbor.
However, D'Andrea said that he and Landi were not among the complainers and that he can only speculate why Guthrie is trying to evict him.
"The only thing I can think of," D'Andrea said, "is they're saying: 'Everybody's complaining about us; let's complain about everybody.' "
Guthrie said he has sound reasons for the eviction.
Late last month, Marina Cove Ltd. filed a complaint in South Bay Municipal Court to force the D'Andreas and Landi out of the marina. The action came after a letter the management sent in October was ignored.
The letter, from marina manager Geral Santiago, who is Guthrie's daughter, said: "It has come to our attention by way of a complaint that you have a child under 16 years of age living with you on your boat. . . . Since this is not allowed under the conditions of your rental agreement, this is to advise you that the child must be removed within three days. . . . In the event you elect not to adhere to this request, this letter also serves to give you a one-month notice to vacate (the) boat space."
The letter did not mention any of the other problems Guthrie enumerated in interviews, but he said those were outlined in previous letters.
Both Guthrie and D'Andrea agree that D'Andrea never signed the marina's usual live-aboard agreement, which has a clause that says children cannot live aboard a boat. D'Andrea signed a rental agreement for the boat slips that included a provision that children in the marina must be under adult supervision.
D'Andrea said he was first asked to sign the live-aboard agreement last August, and he refused since he had already lived there for more than four years.
'Haven't Hassled Anybody'
D'Andrea acknowledged that he ignored the letter from Santiago. "I figured, why should I (move)? I've lived here five years. I haven't hassled anybody."
Guthrie disagreed, calling D'Andrea "a bully." In one year, 23 tenants near D'Andrea's boat asked for new slips away from the Little Christina, he said.
D'Andrea believes that his neighbors support him. Linda Worsley, who has been the D'Andreas' neighbor for about nine months, did so, saying: "I think Christina should be allowed to stay here. I think it's just ridiculous. She's no trouble at all. . . . She's just like the adults down here--or we're just like the kids, I should say."
Guthrie said he does not think a marina is a proper place to raise children. He said forbidding children under 16 is not discrimination because living on a boat can be hazardous. Further, he said, his liability insurance does not cover children living there.
Guthrie said that although he has had particular problems with D'Andrea and Landi, the company has the right to terminate its contract with any tenant without cause after 30 days' notice.
The company evicts about half a dozen tenants a year from its 872 boat slips for not paying the rent, Guthrie said. But in the 20 years his company has operated the marina, he said, only one person has been evicted for a contract violation.
"We don't do this kind of thing lightly," he said. "We're frankly just tired of his actions. I mean, enough is enough."