March 2023 Director’s Message

Winter weather has been biting us a bit recently, but it has not slowed down our plans for fun activities and making progress on important infrastructure and development projects in the Harbor.

Celebration of the Whales Festival

Our Celebration of the Whales Festival is the first major event/activity we introduce every calendar year. This free-to-attend, family-friendly event will offer plenty of fun activities at low-cost or no-cost. This year’s whales festival will be scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 26th.

The event will feature a variety of free activities outside of the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, shopping at the Farmers Market, more than a dozen chalk artists drawing ocean-themed art, and a children’s fun zone at Harbor View Park.

I’m excited to announce there will be two new features at the event. First, we will be holding a concert from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Harbor View Park in the same location as our summer concert series. Second, we are inviting the community and visitors to help us paint a mural of a whale calf. Our friends at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center will be helping us with this project. We hope you can come out and participate!

Fisherman’s Wharf

The Harbor Department is continuing its process to enter an Exclusive to Negotiate (ERN) with a developer for the Fisherman’s Wharf property.

Following a Request for Proposals (RFP) process and public workshop in 2022 for the development of the property, the Harbor Department was preparing to recommend to the Board of Supervisors a developer named Robert Dahl. Dahl’s group has proposed to revitalize Fisherman’s Wharf into a visitor-serving village with dining, retail, recreation, and entertainment activities. Portions of the community had questions regarding the proposal so we decided more public outreach would be valuable before moving forward.

A Karls’ representative and the Harbor Department hosted 12 community outreach meetings in a one-week period in February 2023 to talk about the proposed project and discuss any questions or concerns.  The Karls’ representative was able to address many concerns regarding design features, amenities, and traffic and parking.

One misunderstanding that we wanted to clear up was the process itself. The approval of an ERN does not mean a final project for Fisherman’s Wharf is approved. The approval of an ERN means there will be a period where the County would solely negotiate with Dahl to redevelop Fisherman’s Wharf. During the ERN period, the developers would provide design and construction analysis, demonstrate funding, and negotiate the terms of an initial phase and long-term agreement with the Harbor Department. During the process, the Karls team would continue to engage with the community and gather feedback about what visitor-serving amenities would be made available. The workshop attendees found the information, including the development process, to be valuable.

Casa Sirena Property/Harbor Peninsula

The Harbor Department’s infrastructure project to replace the revetment along the southern tip of the Harbor peninsula is well underway. Construction crews have been busy hauling in new rock, reusing some existing rock, and removing old existing rock that can no longer be used.

This project is scheduled to be completed by the end of Spring 2023, weather permitting. Once the project is complete, crews can begin construction on the planned 210-room Hyatt House Hotel and adjacent restaurant.

Dredging Project

Dredging operations at the Harbor wrapped up last week, on schedule. Crews demobilized equipment and are heading to Ventura Harbor. Please note fishing activities inside the break wall will continue to be closed for the next month until all dredging pipes are removed.

We would like to express our thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its oversight of the project and Manson Construction Company for its diligent work. We would also like to thank Congresswoman Julia Brownley for helping secure the funding needed for this important project.

In this dredging cycle, which happens every two years, more than 2.4 million cubic yards of sand were moved from the Harbor entrance. The dredging project ensures a safe Harbor entrance and replenishes downcoast beaches.

As you can see, things are moving along quite well at the Channel Islands Harbor. We hope you continue to visit and enjoy this magnificent public asset.

Michael Tripp, Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this story was published on March 1, 2023.