Channel Islands Harbor Parks to Close Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Trees are silhouetted at Harbor View Park

All parks located within the Channel Islands Harbor will be closed to the public beginning Wednesday, April 1, the Ventura County Harbor Department announced today. Harbor Department Director Mark Sandoval said the move is consistent with an action announced today at the Board of Supervisors meeting to close all County parks to minimize the public’s…

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Status of Events at Channel Islands Maritime Museum

A carving of a wooden fisherman holding up his catch is diplayed outside CIMM

Editor’s Note: this message was provided by the Channel Islands Maritime Museum on March 23, 2020.  The safety of our visitors, members, staff, and volunteers is our top priority. As a preemptive measure to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19, we have made the joint decision to temporarily discontinue public admissions to our…

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Channel Islands Harbor Farmers Market Will Be Open on Sunday

A smiling woman with coffee in hand, buying strawberries at the Farmers Market

A variety of safety measures have been put into place at the Channel Islands Harbor’s Farmers Market, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday. The Farmers Market is operated by Raw Inspiration, Inc., a business that runs more than 20 markets throughout Southern California. Here is a special message from…

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Maritime Museum, Boating Center Close Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

Channel Islands Maritime Museum and the Channel Islands Boating Center (CIBC) have closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak. CSU, Channel Islands operates the CIBC. CSU, Channel Islands Senior Directory of Community & Government Relations Celina Zacarias said the university is holding public safety in the highest regards. “For everyone’s safety, effective immediately, we will be…

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23rd Annual Celebration of Whales Cancelled Due to Coronavirus Expansion

Celebration of Whales attendees pictured in their whale hats, from a prior year

With the continued expansion of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the safety of the public in mind, we have decided to cancel the 23rd Annual Celebration of the Whales event, scheduled for Sunday, March 22, 2020. According to Governor Gavin Newsom, California’s public health experts determined March 11, 2020 that gatherings should be postponed or canceled…

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March 2020 Director’s Message: Updates on 4th of July, Jr. Lifeguard Program, Development

A rowing team paddles in the harbor

Still in the throngs of winter and there is not much going on.  The problem in an arid state like California is that if there is little rain it can be problematic with water supplies.  As you may know, my previous position was directing two central California lake resorts, and a winter like we have had so far could be disastrous.  While bad weather could be problematic for a built-out oceanfront harbor like ours, we sure could use some rain before the winter leaves us.

Fourth of July Fundraising

As I wrote last month, we are busy preparing for the summer events here in the Harbor, and the big news this past month has been the struggle to find funding for the Fourth of July fireworks show.  I appreciate all of the helpful press we have received and those of you who have taken an active role in raising the funds we need, but I am hearing that there may be some mis-information about the funding.  To summarize the funding and the funding needs, the Fourth of July events normally cost about $90,000.  The fireworks show itself costs $25,000, the overtime for the Oxnard Police for security and traffic control cost $30,000, and the rent for the Navy base for the show is nearly $4,000, and we rent trash containers, traffic signage and barriers, porta-potties, and incur significant overtime to clean the trash after the event, including about 60-hours of staff time to clean every piece of debris from the launch area of the Navy base.

In the recent past, the City of Oxnard would fund 50% of the $25,000 fireworks show and cover the $30,000 for police overtime, for a total contribution of $42,500.  That arrangement ended last year when the City notified us that it could not cover those resources.  The Harbor Department covered the $12,500 for the City share of the fireworks and the Port Hueneme cannabis industry covered the cost of police overtime.

The fundraising effort for the Fourth of July this year is to fund the $42,500 covered by the City prior to 2019.  The Harbor Department is still committed to pay its share, which is the $12,500 for the fireworks show and the roughly $35,000 for the other expenses described above.  Unfortunately, the Harbor Department is projected to lose nearly $1 million and is not in a position to cover the expenses the City covered historically.  I have read some criticism of the Harbor Department’s position, but it should be noted that the Harbor Department loss is 11% of its $9 million budget, which I believe is a much higher loss ratio than the City is incurring as a percent of revenue, and half of the Harbor Department loss is the result of maintenance costs absorbed by the Harbor Department when the City stopped maintaining the public areas of the Harbor in July 2018.  I am not in a position to recommend spending more on the Fourth of July and I empathize with the City’s budget position, and therefore hope that the public fundraising efforts will be successful so that the show can go on.

As I mentioned last month, the Harbor Lessee Association has stepped up to assist, and has established a Go Fund Me page to donate to the Fourth of July. Click on this link to visit the Go Fund Me page.  The fundraising needs to happen fast, as we need to make a commitment for the fireworks in about three weeks, so help if you can and spread the word.

Junior Lifeguard Program

As we head into summer, another exciting topic is opening up the application process for our Junior Lifeguard Program.  This Program is open to the public, and involves a relatively rigorous program where we provide instruction in lifeguard rescue techniques, emergency medical first-aid ocean sports activities, physical conditioning, marine ecology and public service. Click on this link to view program information and download an application.


As I talk to Harbor residents and business owners at the Sunday Farmer’s Market and around the Harbor, the topic I get asked about more than any is Fisherman’s Wharf, as residents and guests are interested in the project, its history and the current status.


The re-development of Fisherman’s Wharf began in 2004 as the County sought to find a developer to rebuild Fisherman’s Wharf.  The County negotiated with two potential developers, one requesting 800 apartments in a mixed-use development and one requesting 500 apartments in a mixed-use development.  Neither of those lasted due to the economy and public pressure.  The current developer, Channel Islands Harbor Properties (CIHP), began working with the County in 2014.  They offered a conceptual design involving the redevelopment of the retail center and the inclusion of apartments.  The Harbor Department and CIHP held numerous meetings with the public and County officials, and settled on a redevelopment of the retail center and the construction of 390 market-rate apartments.

These proposed plans were discussed at the staff level with the City of Oxnard, and at that time (2015 and early 2016), the City staff was supportive of the project. This project did not go through the City’s Planning process, because under State law the specific project does not go to the City but instead goes to the State Coastal Commission.  Per State Law, however, the County and City, were required to change their planning documents to allow for apartments at the site.  This did not seem as if it would be an issue with the City because in 2011 the City had adopted a 2030 General Plan which recommended apartments at the Fisherman’s Wharf site.

In late 2016, the City took the stance that it wanted the project to be approved by the City – and the conflict ensued.  For nearly two years, the City and County debated as to each other’s rights with regards to approving the specific project.  The Coastal Commission and Coastal Commission staff directed that the County go through the City’s process before it could present the project to the Coastal Commission, and in early 2018, the County requested the City to change its coastal development plan to allow the project to be taken to the Coastal Commission.  In November 2019, the Oxnard City Council denied that request.

It is important to note that the City did not deny the request because of the apartments, as it would conflict with its own 2030 General Plan adopted in 2011, nor did the City object to the 55-foot height because it had recently approved a 55-foot height for the Hyatt Hotel in the Harbor.  The City’s denial related to parking, commercial fishing, public access, recreational docks and bike paths, despite the fact that the County had provided detailed information as to how these would be handled with the project, and testified as such at the hearing, but the City Council still denied the request.  In the City Council hearing, most of the Councilmembers stated they wanted to maintain control of the development in the Harbor.

Current Status

The County has filed an appeal with the Coastal Commission to allow for submittal of the project to the Coastal Commission, overriding the City’s denial to amend its development plan – despite the fact that the City recommended apartments in its own 2030 General Plan.  This appeal action is allowed by State law because the State recognized in the Coastal Act that a City may work to stop a development which is good for the entire region, which is what happened with Fisherman’s Wharf.

Since the City denial in November last year, the development team has voiced a desire to find a collaborative path forward with the City, County and other stakeholders, and has recently met with representatives of the opposition group, Harbor and Beach Community Alliance, to that end, but to date the City has not agreed to a meeting.  We will keep trying to convince the City that a joint meeting and the development of an inclusionary process is in the best interests of everyone involved, and hopefully find a path forward which will avoid the Coastal Commission appeal process.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this story was published on March 5, 2020.

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Applications Available for Ventura County 2020 Junior Lifeguard Program

A group of Ventura Junior Lifeguard instructors speaks to a small crowd of hopefuls

UPDATE:  Both sessions of the Ventura County Junior Lifeguard Program will be canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. The Junior Lifeguard Program, sponsored by the Ventura County Harbor Department, offers youth 8 to 15 years of age the opportunity to receive instruction in lifeguard rescue techniques, emergency medical first-aid, ocean sports activity, physical conditioning,…

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