The first chapter of the Harbor Academy is in the books (pardon the pun). I approached this series of presentations with a little trepidation, knowing the passion for certain topics in the Harbor. I was wondering if I was heading into the lion’s den dressed as a tri-tip.
As it turns out, I believe it was a successful presentation, which did include some spirited give and take. A number of the questions veered into the realm of Harbor development, specifically Fisherman’s Wharf. While I was willing to have some of the development discussion because there is undoubtedly a financial component to Harbor development, the true discussions on development will be presented in the next chapter of the Academy, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 at the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club.
This session centered on the history of the Harbor and finances of the Harbor Department. The PowerPoint presentation is available by clicking on this link. View a video of the presentation here. A few of the more important points made during the presentation were:
- While discussing revenues, I pointed out that there was a perception that there was a “harbor tax” charged to the retail establishments in the Harbor. This is not the case. Consistent in the commercial retail industry, we charge rent for the operations in the Harbor. That rent is in the form of a percentage of gross revenue of the business, again consistent in the industry. Somehow, that rent has been construed as a harbor tax, which is not accurate – it is rent paid to the “owner” of the Harbor, in this case the County’s Harbor Department.
- The Harbor Department currently has $9 million of available reserves to fund public capital needs in the Harbor. Unfortunately, the list of capital projects currently totals an estimated $23 million.
- I presented a seven-year P&L, which included the expenditure of about $19 million for capital projects, $8 million of which would be in debt.
- I illustrated the impact of the $500,000 in “newly-absorbed” annual expenses we are incurring because the City of Oxnard ceased maintaining the public areas of the Harbor in July 2018. These expenses wipe out our annual operating surplus and force us to tap into our limited reserves to fund the maintenance expenses, further limiting our ability to fund capital projects.
In addition to the presentation about Harbor Development on April 4, future topics for the Academy include the Boating Center, Harbor Patrol and Maintenance, and Harbor Promotion and Marketing. Please join us and likely learn more about the Harbor Department.
Planning and Development in the Harbor
Every time I write about Harbor development, I need to mention the length of time it takes to develop on a waterfront, between the entitlement process, managing the developers, and certain roadblocks by opposition. This is true anywhere in the State.
That said, we are continuing to move forward on planned projects in the Harbor. We plan to take the lease for the Whale’s Tail/Fresca’s project to the Board of Supervisors in April, and we should see some construction activity to that long dormant restaurant shortly after that.
The three projects on the Peninsula, the Hyatt House Hotel/Restaurant, the Peninsula Yacht Anchorage Marina and the County revetment project are all finishing the permitting process. We are still negotiating shared area expense issues and schedule coordination between all parties, and anticipate seeing the construction on Peninsula Road begin in the next few months.
The Fisherman’s Wharf proposed project is again moving forward through the process. In January 2018, the County submitted an application to the City of Oxnard for a Local Coastal Plan Amendment. Over the ensuing many months, there was debate regarding the next steps of the process. Late last year, we met with the City to determine how to get the process moving again, and we were provided with a list of reports and deposits needed. Last week, we received the last report requested, and will provide all of the required information and deposits to the City early this week. The next part of the process will be the City’s, and we will see where it goes from here, and 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 published March 4, 2019.