February marks my sixth month as Harbor Director and I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the Channel Islands Harbor’s people and rich history. From meeting with eager business owners, residents, and others who share an interest in the Harbor to watching archives of public meetings, some common themes have emerged. First, there are significant improvements that need to be made. Second, I’ve heard a significant amount of incorrect information and a lack of understanding about the Harbor Department. I would like to address both issues and offer solutions.
Planning for Harbor Improvements
To put the need for improvements in context, we are at a time in the history of the Harbor where much of the original developments are at or past the end of their useful lives, and we must concentrate on the redevelopment of those structures. One of the challenges we face is the length of time it takes to develop on a waterfront, and that is true even if all interested parties are supportive of a development, which is very rarely the case.
On a go-forward basis, I have made a commitment that we will seek input at the outset of evaluating a possible development on an undeveloped parcel or a parcel which needs redevelopment. The hope is that through an open and inclusive planning process, we will obtain universal buy-in for a development, which makes it much easier during the permit process, and is a direction much welcomed by the Coastal Commission. If you follow the workings of the Coastal Commission, you have seen fights over controversial projects up and down the coast, and those projects which are successful always include a front-end buy-in of all or most interested parties.
In my first six months, I have noted that there is a significant amount of incorrect information and a significant lack of understanding about the Harbor Department. As a result, we are launching the “Harbor Academy,” an outreach effort to educate interested residents about the Harbor Department, key issues, and its staff.
In 2019, the Harbor Academy will begin a series of one-hour monthly workshops that cover operational aspects of the Harbor – finances, planning & development, patrol & maintenance, and marketing.
Our first Harbor Academy workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 28 at the Channel Islands Yacht Club. The topic will be “History and Finances of the Harbor.” Please feel free to register for the event here.
We will be promoting this academy on our website and through Nextdoor. We also maintain a communication e-mail list, and I urge you to get on it as it provides another avenue of communication for us.
This past month we have been hit with a couple of pretty good storm systems. Rain is always a welcome occurrence in water-starved California, but it does pose a risk, particularly in areas of recent fire and in the Harbor environment, as there is always a greater risk of boats sinking, and building and dock structures getting damaged in inclement weather. Luckily, everything seems to be holding solid thus far. If you have a vessel, make sure your bilge pumps work and your hatches are secure.
As always, live every day to the fullest.
Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department
Editor’s Note: this was originally published on January 31, 2019.