Director’s Message: Opportunity for Community Support

A little over two months at the helm, and I find there is still a lot to learn.  I continue to spend a good deal of time meeting with business owners, residents and government peers to discuss ways to better the Harbor.  If nothing else, I trust it demonstrates that we are entering a new era of transparency and openness.

As I live in and look at the Harbor from the eyes of a “newbie” I see so much potential.  I hear story after story about how great the Harbor used to be.  I think it still is, and know that it can be better in the future.  Our challenge will be how we get there.  From a big picture perspective, we need to ensure that the major developments fit the vision and culture of the Harbor.  I will speak to development ideas later in this message.  From a smaller picture, or nearer term perspective, we look at promotion strategies and opportunities, as well as ways to get people to the Harbor.  The Harbor Department underwrites the annual Parade of Lights and the Fireworks by the Sea celebrations, and we have several event promoters who bring events to the Harbor, all of which provide a tremendous benefit.  Finally, we have a very engaged and passionate resident population, which I believe is ready and willing to assist.

Visitors from Hawaii

Along those lines, we have a fantastic opportunity to showcase our Harbor in a couple of weeks.  The Polynesian Voyaging Canoe, the Hikianalia, is coming to our Harbor on October 10, as part of its California voyage.  The vessel will be here from October 10 to October 14.  There will be a public ceremony and educational opportunities associated with this visit.

Community Support Opportunity

Our challenge is to provide a huge Channel Islands Harbor welcome for the vessel and its crew of ten.  The first opportunity for a big splash surrounds the vessel’s entrance into the Harbor.  The Hikianalia will be coming into the Harbor on Wednesday, October 10th at 4 p.m. It would be grand to see a huge flotilla of canoes and kayaks follow the vessel from the Harbor entrance to its dock at the Maritime Museum.  Another opportunity for assistance would be hosted dinners for the crew of ten.  They will be here three nights, and while they can cook on the vessel, it would be great if we as the Harbor community were able to accommodate them for these meals.  Ideas are a pot luck, hosted at one of the Harbor restaurants or even a hosted meal at a residence.  Obviously, the more we can do to showcase our hospitality, the better.  Because we are a public agency, we are limited in what we can do with public funds, so this will have to come from the residential or business community. If you are interested in hosting the crew for dinner, please contact Jenna Ishii via email at or

Planning for Victoria Ave. Corridor

Switching gears to development, one of our areas of focus in the next few months will be the businesses along Victoria Avenue, south of Fisherman’s Wharf.  We have a number of short-term leases along Victoria, and many of the buildings and docks date back to the creation of the Harbor.  While we have some ideas about what could and should be developed along Victoria, this is a planning process wherein we will seek current lessee, public and potential lessee input.  In this manner, we will essentially be master planning a significant part of the Harbor, without labelling it a “master plan.”  I know there are some individuals that believe the entire Harbor should be re-master planned, but in my experience, sometimes “no development” proponents use a master planning process to slow down all development.  I believe we can accomplish the same goal in planning smaller parts of the Harbor by themselves, such as Victoria Avenue.

Hyatt House and Whale’s Tail projects

With regards to current developments, there is not much to report on the Hyatt Hotel or the Whale’s Tail projects.  The developer for the Hotel project continues to work through the permitting process, and the potential lessee for the Whale’s Tail is still assembling information we have requested for the lease.  I recently went to dinner at Fresco II in Palmdale, as I wanted to see what we may see in the Harbor in the future, and it was one of the best meals I have had in a long while and the ambiance was fantastic.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director