Director’s Message: Fireworks by the Sea to Move Forward

Last month I wrote that the weather was heating up and it was exciting to know that summer was just around the corner.  Unfortunately, summer has decided to not show itself as of yet.  The week of Memorial Day there were actually hail storms in the County, and it rained over Memorial Weekend.  I am so ready for the summer!

The hot topic of the month is the July 4th Fireworks Show at the Harbor (pun intended).  The July 4th Fireworks by the Sea is a very popular, longstanding event in the Harbor.  In the recent past, the County Harbor Department and the City of Oxnard would essentially split the costs.  The Harbor Department supplied the on-water security and the maintenance and clean-up for the event, and the City supplied Police services for the on-land traffic and crowd control.  The cost of the fireworks show itself is split 50/50.  Together, both agencies contribute about $90,000 for the event.

Unfortunately, the City of Oxnard is in the middle of a significant budget problem, and a recommended cut to balance the budget is the elimination of the Police resources to staff the fireworks show ($29,000) and the 50% share for the fireworks show itself ($12,500).  Fortunately, a “call to action” went out and a group of supporters, led by the Channel Islands Harbor Lessee Association, raised the funds to pay for the Police costs.  While we have our own financial struggles, I was not about to let the show die for want of $12,500 for the fireworks show, so the Harbor Department will pay the entire $25,000 cost for the fireworks, and the show will go on.

Harbor Academy, Round 3

We held the second installment of the Harbor Academy in May.  The topics of this installment were a discussion regarding Harbor Patrol and Harbor Maintenance.  It was held at the Channel Islands Yacht Club (thanks CIYC) and was fairly well attended, but not as crowded as the first two installments. You can watch this workshop on YouTube by clicking on this link.

The Harbor Patrol division is highly regarded and appreciated throughout the Harbor.  It is an extremely dedicated and talented team which is highly trained in vessel operation and maintenance, fire fighting support and emergency medical aid, and I was pleased to present all the public benefits provided by these dedicated staff.

The maintenance staff in the Harbor is in my opinion the most impressive division we have in the Department.  It's a small team who handles everything maintenance related for the Harbor.  They rebuild docks and wharfs, they install and repair electrical systems, they handle concrete work, tree trimming and landscaping around the Harbor.  They handle all components of building maintenance, from framing and painting to plumbing and metal fabrication.  They handle a variety of large equipment, including tractors and a surf rake to groom the beaches.  I am constantly astonished by what this small team can accomplish, and believe the Harbor Department has the best maintenance crew anywhere.

I did cover one very important topic at this presentation which was the unresolved issue regarding Harbor Patrol services in the Oxnard Waterways section of the Harbor.  The background of this issue is that the Harbor Department has historically provided Harbor Patrol services to Mandalay Bay, Harbour Island, Westport and Seabridge.  However,  there was an inherent inequity because Seabridge was paying much more per residence than the other neighborhoods in the Oxnard Waterways, yet Mandalay Bay and Harbour Island were paying nothing for the service.  Seabridge ultimately used a voter initiative to reduce payment for the services, which reduced the payment to the Harbor Department to a level where we could no longer provide the service.

We have provided a proposal to the City and the neighborhoods to continue the services, but that proposal has yet to be accepted, and therefore Harbor Patrol services in the Oxnard Waterways will cease at the end of the year unless an agreement can be reached.  For perspective, we billed about $1 million for the services in the current year, the total cost to provide the service is about $1.4 million a year, and we have proposed an agreement whereby we would provide the service for $1.2 million a year.  We may be able to reduce our offer under certain conditions, but it would require that all residents north of the Channel Islands Bridge participate or that the City subsidize the costs for its waterways.

The next Harbor Academy workshop is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 at the Channel Islands Boating Center, located at 3880 Bluefin Circle Drive. At the workshop, attendees can learn more about the Boating Center and the recreational and educational opportunities it provides. Click on this link to register for the event.

Planning and Development in the Harbor

We spent the month moving the projects forward, meeting with the City Planning Department regarding Fisherman’s Wharf, pushing the Hotel developers to stay on track for an October demolition start and working with Fresco’s to get that deal finalized.  Looking for good things before the end of the year.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor's Note: this article was originally published on June 3, 2019.