Director’s Message: Opportunity for Community Support

A dock with it's locker, hoses and cleats

A little over two months at the helm, and I find there is still a lot to learn.  I continue to spend a good deal of time meeting with business owners, residents and government peers to discuss ways to better the Harbor.  If nothing else, I trust it demonstrates that we are entering a new era of transparency and openness.

As I live in and look at the Harbor from the eyes of a “newbie” I see so much potential.  I hear story after story about how great the Harbor used to be.  I think it still is, and know that it can be better in the future.  Our challenge will be how we get there.  From a big picture perspective, we need to ensure that the major developments fit the vision and culture of the Harbor.  I will speak to development ideas later in this message.  From a smaller picture, or nearer term perspective, we look at promotion strategies and opportunities, as well as ways to get people to the Harbor.  The Harbor Department underwrites the annual Parade of Lights and the Fireworks by the Sea celebrations, and we have several event promoters who bring events to the Harbor, all of which provide a tremendous benefit.  Finally, we have a very engaged and passionate resident population, which I believe is ready and willing to assist.

Visitors from Hawaii

Along those lines, we have a fantastic opportunity to showcase our Harbor in a couple of weeks.  The Polynesian Voyaging Canoe, the Hikianalia, is coming to our Harbor on October 10, as part of its California voyage.  The vessel will be here from October 10 to October 14.  There will be a public ceremony and educational opportunities associated with this visit.

Community Support Opportunity

Our challenge is to provide a huge Channel Islands Harbor welcome for the vessel and its crew of ten.  The first opportunity for a big splash surrounds the vessel’s entrance into the Harbor.  The Hikianalia will be coming into the Harbor on Wednesday, October 10th at 4 p.m. It would be grand to see a huge flotilla of canoes and kayaks follow the vessel from the Harbor entrance to its dock at the Maritime Museum.  Another opportunity for assistance would be hosted dinners for the crew of ten.  They will be here three nights, and while they can cook on the vessel, it would be great if we as the Harbor community were able to accommodate them for these meals.  Ideas are a pot luck, hosted at one of the Harbor restaurants or even a hosted meal at a residence.  Obviously, the more we can do to showcase our hospitality, the better.  Because we are a public agency, we are limited in what we can do with public funds, so this will have to come from the residential or business community. If you are interested in hosting the crew for dinner, please contact Jenna Ishii via email at or

Planning for Victoria Ave. Corridor

Switching gears to development, one of our areas of focus in the next few months will be the businesses along Victoria Avenue, south of Fisherman’s Wharf.  We have a number of short-term leases along Victoria, and many of the buildings and docks date back to the creation of the Harbor.  While we have some ideas about what could and should be developed along Victoria, this is a planning process wherein we will seek current lessee, public and potential lessee input.  In this manner, we will essentially be master planning a significant part of the Harbor, without labelling it a “master plan.”  I know there are some individuals that believe the entire Harbor should be re-master planned, but in my experience, sometimes “no development” proponents use a master planning process to slow down all development.  I believe we can accomplish the same goal in planning smaller parts of the Harbor by themselves, such as Victoria Avenue.

Hyatt House and Whale’s Tail projects

With regards to current developments, there is not much to report on the Hyatt Hotel or the Whale’s Tail projects.  The developer for the Hotel project continues to work through the permitting process, and the potential lessee for the Whale’s Tail is still assembling information we have requested for the lease.  I recently went to dinner at Fresco II in Palmdale, as I wanted to see what we may see in the Harbor in the future, and it was one of the best meals I have had in a long while and the ambiance was fantastic.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director

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Channel Islands Harbor Announces Parade of Lights Theme

Dozens of brightly lit ships docked in Channel Islands Harbor for the Parade of Lights

“Heroes on Holiday” will be the theme of this year’s 53rd Annual Parade of Lights at the Channel Islands Harbor, scheduled for Saturday, December 8th.

The boat parade brings thousands of residents and visitors to the waterfront each year. The procession of more than 40 decorated boats has become one of the most iconic holiday events in Ventura County.

“With so many heroes to choose from, we know our local boating community will step up and have some amazing entries,” said Mark Sandoval, Ventura County Harbor Department Director.

While the Parade of Lights is an evening event, there will be holiday activities to explore at the Harbor all day.

Festivities at the Harbor begin at noon near Marine Emporium Landing. Families are welcome to enjoy a variety of food options, a holiday artists’ market, live music, and children’s activities. More than 36 tons of snow will be moved in for families to play in. Santa Claus will be available to take pictures, free of charge.

At 6 p.m., join Santa Claus and holiday carolers at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum and witness the first ever “Lighting the Mast at the Maritime Museum.”

At 7 p.m., the Parade of Lights begins in front of Peninsula Park and heads to the Main Channel, turns at Hobie Beach, loops in front of the launch ramp then heads back to Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club and repeats the route for a second run.

The parade can be viewed from parks and walkways that line the route as well as from most Harbor restaurants. Boat charters are available for those who want to watch the parade from the water.

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Harbor Businesses Win Top Honors in Best of Ventura County Contest

Two jet skiers wave from the water off of Channel Islands Harbor

Nine Channel Islands Harbor businesses scored top honors in the VC Reporter’s 33rd annual Best of Ventura County contest.

The VC Reporter asked readers to take a poll and rate their top choices in more than 200 categories, which included local business, professional services, and places to visit. More than 10,000 people participated in the contest – an all-time high.

Here are the winning Channel Islands Harbor businesses and the category they ranked in:

Southern California Jet Skis – Best Place to Take on the Sea on a Jet Ski (Editor’s Pick)

Channel Islands Yacht Club – Yacht Club (1st Place)

Toppers Pizza Place – Kid Friendly/Best Pizza (1st Place)

Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine – South American Food (1st Place)

Channel Islands Farmers Market – Farmers Market (2nd Place)

Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut – Sunday Brunch (3rd Place)

Channel Islands Maritime Museum (3rd Place)

The Lookout Bar & Grill – Karaoke (3rd Place)

Sea Fresh – Seafood Market (3rd Place)

Congratulations to all the Harbor businesses who received the accolades.

To view all the winners from the 33rd Annual Best of Ventura County contest, please visit:

Editor’s Note: this story was published September 20, 2018.

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