Director’s Message: Harbor Academy, Planning & Development Updates

View from the water of the lighthouse, breakwater and crane dock

This is always an exciting time of the year on the waterfront.  The weather starts heating up, and activity on and around the harbor starts to bustle.  On the northeast coast, the spring is officially the start of the boating season as the ice in the harbors starts to melt.  Along with that, local yacht clubs hold their ceremonial opening days, signaling the start of the boating season.  Here on the west coast, we are blessed with year-round boating, and great fishing and sailing throughout the year, not just the summer.  What a place to boat!  Even with the year-round boating, the local yacht clubs still hold a ceremonial opening day.  I was fortunate to be invited to the opening of the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club.  As is tradition, the boats are all dressed up, the flag officers are dressed in their finest yachting attire, and the cannon is ready to announce the season.  It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and welcome in the “boating season.”

As I discuss local boating, I also want to recognize a local celebrity in the sailing world, who lives here in Mandalay Bay – Dick McNish.  Dick has a well-known regatta named after him, the McNish Classic, which is in its 42nd year and is run out of the PCYC.  Dick participated in his 21st Newport to Ensenada race, a race in which Dick has earned trophies in the past.  He sails his 88-year old wooden classic, Cheerio II, once owned by Errol Flynn. Dick and his crew finished the race this past weekend. Way to go!

Harbor Academy

We held the second installment of the Harbor Academy in April.  It was well attended, and by all accounts went very well. (View a video of the presentation here.)  The topic of this session was Planning and Development in the Harbor.  While I provided an update for all of the on-going projects in the Harbor, the main message of this session dealt with the process to plan and develop in the Harbor.  In the past, the process included public participation, but that participation was normally after a potential developer had been identified and had created a preliminary project.

The process we rolled out at the Harbor Academy included an up-front “visioning” process, which will be used in the future when we begin planning for a new development in the Harbor.  This visioning will be a public, open process where we discuss the parcel(s) and take input into what should be developed.  This process will hopefully reduce most of the opposition we have historically encountered as we take a project through the permitting process.

The next Harbor Academy presentation is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9th at the Channel Islands Yacht Club. The topic will be “Patrol & Maintenance.” Please register for the event by clicking here.

Planning and Development in the Harbor

We continue to work on the legal documents associated with the three projects on the Peninsula, and we are getting closer to getting them to the Board of Supervisors.  There is a group publicly contending that the County is stalling these projects purposefully – that could not be further from the truth.  No one is as anxious as myself to get these projects started. We anticipate the Casa Sirena project to begin the four-month demolition process in October 2019.*

Finally, the City of Oxnard recently held a community meeting regarding the Fisherman’s Wharf proposed project.  This meeting was part of the City’s process in evaluating the application to change its Local Coastal Plan to allow for a mixed-use project with residential at that site. (Watch a video of the meeting here.)  I recognize there are considerable concerns regarding this project, but believe that the positives to get this dilapidated center developed into a vibrant mixed-use development far outweigh the increased traffic the project will bring.  I have stated in public meetings that I would be more than willing to meet on Victoria Ave. and discuss traffic impacts with anyone who wants to share their views in real time.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this message was published on April 30, 2019.

*This sentence was added on May 1, 2019.

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Channel Islands Harbor Website Wins Top Honors

A sailboat cruises the channel at sunset

A recently-launched, redesigned website showcasing Channel Islands Harbor businesses, events, news, and services has received top awards from two professional associations.

The website,, was redesigned by Searle Creative, a Ventura-based marketing company, in collaboration with the Ventura County Harbor Department. The Harbor Department owns and manages the website. The website was launched in June 2018.

“The redesigned website provides the perfect platform for Harbor Department staff to provide up-to-date information about Harbor businesses, events, news, and services,” said Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director. “Thank you to Searle Creative for their excellent work and our online community for turning to our website to find relevant, factual information about the Harbor.”

ADDY Award

In March 2019, the American Advertising Federation awarded Searle Creative with one of its prestigious Gold ADDY Awards in the “Consumer Website” category of the 2019 American Advertising Awards – Coastal California Competition. The ADDY Awards is one of the advertising industry’s largest creative competitions, attracting nearly 35,000 professional and student entries each year nationwide.

EPIC Award

In April 2019, the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) awarded the Ventura County Harbor Department with its Excellence in Public Information and Communications (EPIC) Award in the “Digital Communications: Website/App” category.

The redesigned website helped the Harbor Department reach its goal of positioning the Channel Islands Harbor online as a top regional destination to visit. The Harbor Department executed an aggressive content marketing plan in an effort to promote businesses, events, news, and services. In the first six months of the launch, pageviews increased 168% for businesses, 141% for events, 141% for news, and 62% for services when compared to the previous year. Overall, user visits to the website increased 55%.

The Channel Islands Harbor is managed by the Ventura County Harbor Department and owned in fee by the County of Ventura. The majority of the Harbor is operated by private businesses who have been granted long-term leases by the Board of Supervisors.

Editor’s Note: this story was published on April 17, 2019.

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Museum Week Underway at Channel Islands Maritime Museum

Channel Islands Harbor residents and visitors are in for a treat this week. The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is offering a variety of special activities as part of its “Museum Week.” Festivities kicked off earlier this week, but there’s still plenty to do. Here’s a rundown of the remaining activities at the Museum: Wednesday, April…

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Director’s Message: Celebration of the Whales Festival Grows; Planning and Development Update

Aerial view of the sun-drenched harbor, light chop across the water

As a native Californian, I welcome the recent rain in this drought starved State as much as anyone, but I am really ready for the summer to be here.  The Harbor was a wonderful place this weekend as we were finally able to enjoy some prolonged sunshine.  Whether I am on my apartment balcony, riding a bike on the promenade, on a treadmill at the Edge Fitness Club looking at the Harbor, or meandering through the Farmer’s Market, it is always a great time to be at the Harbor.

On Sunday, March 24, we enjoyed the annual Celebration of the Whales Festival in the west Harbor.  This event has taken place on some scale for more than 20 years. In the past five years it shrank and now it appears there is new life to the event thanks to a collaborative effort. Last year, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum joined the Farmer’s Market to host activities for families. This year, we worked with the Museum to enhance the event by introducing a “migration trail” between the Market and Museum.  The trail included activities for families, chalk artists creating some wonderful whale and sea chalk art, and table top booths with NOAA representatives talking about the wonders of whales and the ocean habitat. At the Maritime Museum, there were a number of activities for families – including free admission to the Museum.

While I estimated there were over a thousand walkers, 130 of the families completed the migration trail for a drawing for free whale watching tours courtesy of Island Packers and Channel Islands Whale Watching.  We evaluated the drawing submissions, and found that about 60% of the participants were from outside of the Oxnard, which illustrates that the Harbor is definitely a regional draw.

A big thank you goes to the Harbor Department Public Information Officer, Jed Chernabaeff, Maritime Museum Collections Manager/Curator Heather Behrens, Maritime Museum Board Members Pat Hart and Susan O’Brien, and the dozens of volunteers from the Maritime Museum who made this a wonderful day at the Harbor. The Harbor Department is excited to help support this family-friendly event.

Planning and Development in the Harbor

The biggest news regarding Planning and Development in the Harbor is that the next installation of the Harbor Academy will cover this very topic.  It is scheduled for 6 p.m. on April 4, 2019 at the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club.  We will be discussing the process for Harbor planning and development, a quick review of the last two decades of development, and an update on projects that are currently in the queue.   Don’t miss this presentation but be sure to pre-register.

As I mentioned last month, the three projects on the Peninsula, the Hyatt House Hotel/Restaurant, the Peninsula Yacht Anchorage Marina and the County protective rock revetment project are all finishing the permitting process.  We held a joint meeting with all of the project principals last week, and all of the outstanding issues were settled.  It is now a matter of finalizing all of the legal documents, such as lease amendments, common area and construction agreements, and taking them to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  I am planning that this will happen in May and we will be breaking ground in June.

The Fisherman’s Wharf proposed project has cleared a small hurdle this month.  As I mentioned last month, in January 2018 the County submitted an application to the City of Oxnard for a Local Coastal Plan Amendment, and early this month we provided additional required information and deposits to the City.  Last week, they deemed the application complete, and included a list of additional information needed to proceed.  We will work on providing that information, and then wait and see where the City takes the project through its process.  I continue to hold out hope that we will get some much-needed re-development on that parcel sooner rather than later.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this message was originally published on April 3, 2019.

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