November 2020 Director’s Message

As I write this message, the first seasonal rain is coming around the corner, the week after we changed our clocks so that it gets dark around 5 p.m.  Feels like winter is here.  While I miss the summer, I do like this “bundle-up weather,” as the air is cool but clean, and everything just seems fresher. As we head into the stretch of the year with fouler weather, those of you with boats make sure your dock lines are healthy, your bilge pumps are operable, and you batten down your hatches.

The businesses around the Harbor are still doing as well as can be expected.  When the weather is dry, it is still a good time to rent a jet-ski, electric boat, kayak, stand-up paddle board or a bicycle.  Unless it is raining, or we have strong winds, the Channel Islands Harbor continues to be one of the best places to be out and about on the water or land.  In addition, the restaurants are now allowed to have some inside dining, so make one of them your choice when you do not feel like cooking or just want a night out.  Remember to practice social distancing and wear a mask when appropriate.

Harbor Activities

Unfortunately, as this virus seems to be hanging on, and at times seems to surge, it has negatively impacted the upcoming Holiday season, including our annual Harbor events.  Our Parade of Lights and festival have been cancelled as has the annual Santa to the Sea events.  Cancelling the snow day and activities for children was a no-brainer, but we did receive complaints about cancelling the boat parade.  The issue was not the activity on the water, but the associated congregation on the shores, which is normally very substantial.  I hope that you boat owners still dress up your boats in Holiday attire and get out in the Harbor as much as possible – it greatly adds to the Holiday feel on the waterfront.

On a positive note, it appears that the cancellation of many of the Holiday events has morphed into very positive drive-by and drop-off events for charity.  The Harbor Department is teaming up with the Harbor & Beach Community Alliance to spread Holiday cheer on the day of the cancelled Holiday of Lights.  We will be hosting the first Holiday Food & Toy Drive from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 12, 2020 at Fisherman’s Wharf.  This Holiday Food & Toy Drive will benefit Food Share of Ventura County and the Spark of Love Toy Drive, an annual effort coordinated by local fire departments which provided toys to more than 6,000 children last year.

In addition, although the Santa to the Sea weekend has been cancelled, Mike Baker, Mary Anne Rooney and their team have created a Santa’s Toy Run, which will be held in early December.  Find out more about it on their website.

Harbor Visioning

The Harbor Visioning is still going strong.  We continue to seek additional survey responses, particularly from County residents outside of the immediate Harbor area and younger County residents.  If you have not yet taken the survey, please go to and spend five minutes telling us what you want to see for the future of the Harbor.  Your input will count!

One of the important discussions we have had to date is how difficult it is to move around within the Harbor, unless you do it by car – which is counter to the “Harbor” experience.  The Sargent Town Planning team and the Steering Committee have developed numerous exciting ideas which would create that Harbor experience and keep visitors interested in staying in the Harbor for hours or days once they arrive.  The next step is to discuss those developments which will provide the attraction to want to be in the Harbor, come back to the Harbor, and tell friends and families that this Harbor is the place to visit.

We will continue to work through the visioning process, and in the near future will be rolling out ideas and asking for more public input.  Stay tuned.

As always, live every day to the fullest.

Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department

Editor’s Note: this story was published on November 6, 2020.