I am writing this as we head into Labor Day Weekend, but am doing so with more than a tinge of sadness. It will be a great weekend at the Harbor, with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. I am sure that we will get significant crowds to the open spaces in and around the Harbor, including our beaches, parks and harbor itself, but the sadness comes when we look around and realize that this is a different type of summer, where we need to be cognizant of who is around us, how close they are and when to wear a mask. No matter what position you hold on the distancing and mask debate, or even the severity of the disease itself, one thing is certain – the more you distance and protect, the better chances you have of not getting the disease, and that is a good thing.
My deeper sadness is when we recognize what Labor Day is all about – the celebration of the American worker. The sickness and death surrounding this pandemic is real and cannot be ignored. However, on this weekend in particular, we should recognize the impact this disease has had on the American worker. We have always been a nation of workers, and this disease has put millions of American workers who want to work out of work, and the impact to our nation and its citizens is devastating. This weekend we should celebrate the American worker, but more importantly at this juncture in history, we should recognize those Americans who are out of work because of this pandemic, and if you know anyone in that situation, do what you can to help ease their burden.
This past month has been pretty warm and, as a result, business in and around the Harbor is relatively robust. As I move around the Harbor, particularly on weekends, it is heartening to see so much activity. Despite this, many businesses are very limited in their operations, such as restaurants which cannot offer indoor dining. This is detrimental to these businesses, so I urge you to patronize these local businesses as much as you can, particularly the restaurants, and when looking for a place to eat, come down to the Harbor for a great meal, either dining outside while enjoying our wonderful harbor or taking it home to enjoy.
The Harbor Visioning process is definitely picking up steam. The Steering Committee has been set, and is excited to get moving on the visioning process. The consultant, Sargent Town Planning, is working diligently getting up to speed on the dynamics of the Harbor, and designing the visioning process which will guide us for the next few months. Updates on the visioning process and future opportunities for input can be tracked on the Channel Islands Harbor Visioning webpage, which you can find by clicking here.
As I mentioned last month, I believe this will be the most important undertaking for development in the Harbor over the past number of decades, and will shape development in the Harbor for the next few decades. The time is definitely right to undertake this endeavor, and will ultimately result in more efficient and expedient development in the Harbor for many years.
I would be remiss if I did not mention what transpired this past month regarding the Fisherman’s Wharf proposed development. This project is an example of a situation whereby the County and City of Oxnard disagreed about the proposed project, and could not work out a solution agreeable to all parties. As a result, the City effectively denied the project last November, and we applied to the State Coastal Commission to override that denial and take control of the project. The Coastal Commission held a hearing for this request on August 12, and ruled against the override, essentially stopping the project.
While we have been unable to reach an agreement, I believe that there is a project for Fisherman’s Wharf which will be acceptable. I also believe it can include residential because the County has supported residential at that site, and the City also supports residential at that site, as stated it its Oxnard 2030 General Plan. The devil is in the details, and that is why the Harbor visioning process is so important because it will involve widespread collaboration, and an opportunity to determine what the best use or uses are for this location and other available locations throughout the Harbor.
As always, live every day to the fullest.
Mark Sandoval, Harbor Director
Ventura County Harbor Department
Editor’s Note: this column was published September 4, 2020.