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

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.