Ventura County supervisors approve extension for Channel Islands Harbor project

Developer will receive second extension on exclusive negotiating agreement.

VENTURA — Yet another harbor redevelopment project continues to move through the public process at such a slow pace, it makes snails or turtles appear to be high-performing sports cars.

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a second extension of an exclusive negotiating agreement with Channel Islands Harbor Properties Inc. at their March 21 meeting.

Channel Islands Harbor Director Lyn Krieger said the extension would give Channel Islands Harbor Properties time to complete proposals it promised to deliver under the original agreement.

“The timeline requirements have been changed in accordance with where we’re now on the schedule,” Krieger told supervisors.

The original agreement, according to Krieger, granted the developer exclusive rights to negotiate on three different parcels: Fisherman’s Wharf; the site of a new hotel; and, a vacant lot called X3.

Last month’s agreement extension specifically applies to the X3 parcel, which is currently dormant.

Ventura County was under specific instructions to not perform extensive work on other parcels until the new Fisherman’s Wharf project made substantive progress. Channel Islands Harbor Properties has, according to Krieger, continued to honor the current agreement.

However residents were concerned the second extension would jeopardize vessel launching and the offering of affordable lodging amenities in the coastal zone.

Silver Stand Beach resident Jackie Pinson was one of those who asked the supervisors to not extend the exclusive negotiating agreement.

“It has become quite clear … we need a harbor where there is more marina visitor activities, not more traffic and residences. For example, we need more places for people to launch their kayaks and canoes on all sides of the harbor,” Pinson told supervisors.

She added local residents, in general, have experienced difficulty with where they are allowed to launch their vessels.

Another resident said Channel Islands Harbor Properties is not proactively seeking public input or updating plans, so a second extension should not be granted.

Hollywood Beach resident Judith Doogan added the county’s current pace of dealing with Channel Islands Harbor Properties could pit the city of Oxnard against the California Coastal Commission.

The commission’s new executive director, she said, has made it a priority to ensure coastal zones offer sufficient affordable lodging options. Doogan feared extending the exclusive negotiating agreement would jeopardize the redevelopment of the Casa Sirena Hotel.

“I believe [the extensions] will certainly affect the city’s standing with the California Coastal Commission, which is obviously trying to strengthen the ability to get these modest cost hotels in,” Doogan said. “We would obviously be working against that.”

Krieger said, however, there is no risk of delay with the current extension.

Supervisors Linda Parks asked if the X3 property could be used for launching purposes in the interim. Currently the X3 property does not have a ramp or dock.

The county would have to go back to the Coastal Commission to determine whether the parcel could be temporarily used for launching purposes, according to Krieger.

Ventura County approved an option agreement with Channel Islands Harbor Properties for the development of Fisherman’s Wharf in November 2015. An exclusive negotiating agreement was approved for the X3 parcel about six months later.

The option agreement prioritized Oxnard’s Fisherman’s Wharf to be redeveloped in hopes of creating a more attractive and vibrant harbor area. Plans call for a new restaurant, retail vendors, an apartment complex and a refurbished lighthouse on Channel Islands Boulevard.

Both Oxnard city and Ventura County officials have been trying to redevelop the Channel Islands Harbor area for nearly a decade now. Casa Sirena Hotel, for example, has been abandoned since 2009. The recession, at the time, prevented city and county officials from moving forward with a planned redevelopment of the hotel site.

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