The 4th of July always provides a wonderful experience on the waterfront.  In my opinion, there is no better place to be on our country’s birthday than the waterfront.  Boat owners, marine businesses and waterfront residents always celebrate the 4th in style. It is very heartwarming to see the boats and waterfront decorated in red, white and blue, and to get out on the 4th and enjoy all of the waterfront activities.

This year feels much more special than most.  Throughout history, our patriotism has seemed more pronounced when we have defeated an aggressive adversary.  While the COVID-19 pandemic is not a “standard” physical adversary causing problems somewhere in the world, I cannot imagine that anyone would question that this deadly virus is a persistent adversary which we, along with the rest of the world, had to fight on all fronts.  While we are not yet totally victorious against this pandemic, it sure feels like we have it on the ropes and our lives have almost returned to normal – now that is something to celebrate!

Here in the Channel Islands Harbor, we will bring back many of our July Fourth favorites, starting with the celebratory parade on Harbor Boulevard at 10:30 a.m.  In addition, the Farmer’s Market will be open and a great place to be as we celebrate this patriotic day.  Finally, don’t miss the boat parade in the Harbor, which begins at 2 p.m.

Wear your patriotic colors, dress your homes and boats up in red, white and blue, and take some time to meet with friends and celebrate how great it is to be living in the best area of a great state in unquestionably the best country in the world.

Harbor Development

Last month I wrote about a significant achievement regarding Harbor operations, which is the settling of a number of outstanding issues between the County and City of Oxnard, in the form of a Cooperation Agreement.  This agreement was a win-win for both agencies, and particularly the Harbor, as we can now turn our efforts to the much-needed improvements for the Harbor.

This month, we can celebrate another achievement, which has been more than a year in the making.  At the June 22 Board of Supervisors meeting, we presented the Channel Islands Harbor Vision Report, on behalf of the Harbor Department and Channel Islands Harbor Visioning Steering Committee, which was comprised of representatives from the County of Ventura, the City of Oxnard, the Harbor business community, and residential representatives.

I want to thank the Steering Committee and the hundreds of residents who provided feedback throughout the entire process.  We worked very hard to identify what community and business members want in the Harbor, and to reconcile it with what our experience has led us to believe is likely attainable since the Harbor is operated as a self-sufficient enterprise.  I believe there are development possibilities which will maintain the Harbor’s culture, provide open accessibility to residents and visitors, and provide the funds necessary to effectively operate the Harbor.

The bulk of the Vision Report examines six current “opportunity parcels” which are available for development. Development ideas for these parcels were provided by the Visioning Steering Committee, local stakeholders, business representatives and residents. The report summarizes the ideas.  For example:

  • For the parcel that includes the old Whale’s Tail restaurant, ideas for redevelopment include a marine education center and aquarium, dining, and a bed and breakfast.
  • For the Fisherman’s Wharf parcel, ideas for redevelopment include the recruitment of a civic anchor, a boutique hotel, integrated waterfront living opportunities, a public market, and a performing arts center, among other ideas.
  • For the Anacapa Boat Yard site, ideas for redevelopment include a hospitality center, to include a retro-trailer and small houseboat bed and breakfast complex.

While much of the focus was on the redevelopment of the opportunity parcels, the Vision Report also outlines major improvements recommended for public areas of the Harbor. Ideas include wider, comfortable waterside promenades, a multi-use trail on the perimeter of the Harbor, and reconfiguring Victoria Avenue to be more pedestrian and visitor friendly.

The next steps include building on the momentum of the visioning process by issuing Requests For Proposals on several of the developable opportunity parcels within the next few months.

It is very exciting to know that we have built and strengthened important relationships, and completed the public visioning process, to assuredly move forward with more efficient and expeditious Harbor development, which is great news to all of us passionate about this wonderful Harbor.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this story was published on July 1, 2021.