Happy New Year! This time of the year is all about dreaming big, setting goals, and achieving what you set out to do. At the Channel Islands Harbor, there is plenty of achievements to celebrate and even more dreams and goals to improve this beautiful place.
I cannot focus on achievements without highlighting the Ventura County Harbor Department’s 40 employees. These men and women from administration, harbor patrol, and maintenance care deeply about the Harbor.
Our administration staff successfully executed lease negotiations, worked with developers and lessees to renovate Harbor properties, brought in new fun and exciting events, and are overseeing other critical infrastructure projects. In 2023, a few administration goals include:
- Bringing back the 4th of July Fireworks by the Sea
- Overseeing the completion of rock revetment surrounding the Harbor peninsula. The completion of this project will allow the Hyatt House to begin construction.
- Getting the parking lot at Kiddie Beach repaved
- Improving and expanding events like the Celebration of the Whales Festival in March and the Annual Parade of Frights in October
When you think of the Harbor Department, you cannot help but think of Harbor Patrol first. They are perhaps the most visible staff because they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provide important services to our boating community. Harbor Patrol has successfully maintained critical services, trained with public safety agencies for emergency response, and are always swift to respond to water and landside emergencies. In 2023, a few Harbor Patrol goals include:
- Reviving the Jr. Lifeguard Program to full strength
- Training new Harbor Patrol staff to provide excellent service
- Continue marine firefighting training with County Fire and City of Oxnard Fire
The unsung heroes of the Harbor Department are our maintenance staff. They continue to impress with their vast skill sets, which allow them to perform important operational items around the Harbor. In the past year, they’ve been busy trimming more than 300 palm trees around the Harbor, installing more than 50 LED lights to provide a safe environment at night, improved and maintained parks and restrooms, and so much more. I am looking forward to seeing what this team has in store for 2023.
Things are still trending in a positive direction when it comes to development.
We are still in the Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ERN) process with developers who are seeking to revive the Whale’s Tail Restaurant. This process will conclude this spring and I’m looking forward to executing a lease agreement with the developer.
The Harbor Department is overseeing a project to replace the rock revetment around the Harbor’s peninsula. We anticipate this project to be complete by May 2023. Once this project is complete, it will open the door for the developer to begin construction of a new Hyatt House Hotel. The construction of the Hyatt House Hotel is scheduled to take 2-3 years.
One cherished place at the Harbor that has generated a lot of interest recently is Fisherman’s Wharf. The Harbor Department is ready to recommend Robert Dahl, a Germany-based strawberry farmer and entrepreneur, to develop Fisherman’s Wharf.
Robert Dahl proposes to transform Fisherman’s Wharf into a visitor-serving adventure village that is easily accessed by families of all economic backgrounds. The project concept will refurbish existing buildings that are treasured by the community and create new structures that would include children’s toys and book shops, clothing shops, a country and maritime kitchen and home good stores, an outdoor garden shop, food market, a café, restaurants, a boutique hotel, playgrounds, public park areas, and children’s rides. Dahl’s proposal plans to incorporate a strawberry theme, which ties his background as a strawberry farmer to Oxnard and Ventura County’s top agricultural product – the strawberry. Dahl owns and operates seven similar strawberry village concepts in Germany. Of note, not all his villages are the same. He incorporates public feedback and makes necessary adjustments to his villages to fit the character of the community.
Some concerned residents of the proposed project concept that I have met with have asked to delay the entire process, including the recommendation of the ERN, until they have had another opportunity to meet with Robert Dahl and members of his development team in person. I reached out to Robert Dahl last week regarding the request and he welcomed another opportunity to meet with the community in a public forum format. Dahl feels strongly about his proposed project concept and his team’s ability to blend in with our maritime community. I anticipate this meeting being held in late January or February 2023.
I’m looking forward to engaging with the public this year to move forward with a more vibrant future of the Channel Islands Harbor.
Michael Tripp, Director
Ventura County Harbor Department
Editor’s Note: this story was published on Jan. 1, 2023.