HAPPY NEW YEAR! We are entering a new decade, a decade that looks to be very interesting for Southern California, the nation and the world. It also looks to be a very interesting, and hopefully exciting decade for the Channel Islands Harbor.
I normally use this time of year for self-reflection and goal setting. As you may know, I have been in this position for about 18 months. The first six months were essentially a learning period, as I was unfamiliar with the Harbor and the County in general. At the beginning of 2019, my primary goal was to open up the Harbor Department to the public, increasing our transparency as I committed to 18 months ago. To that end, we developed the Harbor Academy and ultimately held five public meetings explaining the Harbor Department’s organization, processes and challenges. Through a five-month process, 334 people attended the workshops – 79 people, or 23% of attendees, completed post workshop surveys. Of the responses, 70% of workshop attendees were satisfied with the workshops and 83% stated the workshops increased their knowledge of the Harbor Department. I’m glad the Harbor Academy proved to be valuable for attendees. As an outcome of the Harbor Academy, we began a public visioning process for the Harbor and seeking public input for Harbor development with the assistance of a planning professional.
A secondary, but very important goal, was to move the four land-based projects forward, and hopefully break ground on at least one or two. The projects are the Hyatt House Hotel on Peninsula Road, the Whale’s Tail restaurant site, the Fisherman’s Wharf proposed development and the rebuild of the Harbor Patrol Headquarters. Unfortunately, and frustratingly, while some progress was made I am extremely disappointed that we are not under construction anywhere in the Harbor.
A third goal I had was to improve the relationship between the County and the City of Oxnard. While I believe we have made progress on this goal, the conflict between the two agencies regarding the Fisherman’s Wharf proposed development, and the underlying control of the Harbor in general, continues to be a serious impediment to a true partnership. We are trying to break down decades of distrust and conflict between the County and City, and it is very difficult to have two separate agencies with approval authority regarding development of one Harbor, but both agencies are trying to mend fences.
As I turn my attention to 2020, I have listed my goals below.
- Enhance the Harbor Visioning Process by engaging additional planning and economic experts and working with business and residential stakeholders to create a vision for development of the Harbor.
- Work with the developer to begin demolition of the Hyatt House Hotel by June 2020.
- Work with the lessee to begin demolition of the marina at the end of the Peninsula by June 2020.
- Work with the City and Channel Islands Harbor Properties to find a path forward regarding the development of Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Continue physical improvements at Fisherman’s Wharf, and lease all space at the center which is currently safe to lease.
- Find a lessee for the Whale’s Tail restaurant site, execute a lease and begin repairs by the end of 2020.
- Develop a financial path forward for the rebuild of the Harbor Patrol Headquarters.
- Improve the public parking lots and perimeter landscaping on Harbor Boulevard.
- Continue our public outreach through a continued open-Harbor Department policy, enhanced use of social media, and regular presence at the Harbor’s Sunday Farmer’s Markets
As you can see, 2020 needs to be a year to make improvements and get the large projects started. I do not want to end the year feeling the same frustration I am feeling now regarding the pace of projects, and I am certain you feel the same way.
Let us hope and pray for a great decade of the 20s, one in which the country and the world settles down, and one in which we accomplish great things for our Channel Islands Harbor, and as always, live every day to the fullest.
Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department