A virtual public forum on for the redevelopment of Fisherman’s Wharf has been scheduled for Jan. 20th at 6 p.m.
OXNARD—With plans to bring nearly 400 apartments to Channel Islands Harbor’s Fisherman’s Wharf squashed by the California Coastal Commission, the developer behind the plans has indicated they are abandoning the project.
Channel Islands Harbor Partners did not pay the required fees on Dec. 1 required to retain its exclusive Lease Option Agreement related to the Fisherman’s Wharf area. CIHP’s exclusivity for the X3 area and F/F1 parcels are due to expire on March 31, 2021. Ventura County and Oxnard will now have to entertain other development proposals for the area in order to see the aging commercial site rehabilitated.
“We obviously want it to be accepted by everyone who’s passionate about the harbor but also and as importantly it has to be a development that a developer will invest in because we do not have the funds, city of Oxnard doesn’t have the funds, so whatever we develop needs to be developed by a private sector developer,” Ventura County Harbor Department Director Mark Sandoval said.
CIHP, a development team made up of Peter W. Mullin, Geoff Palmer and Thomas R. Tellefsen, has held an exclusive Lease Option Agreement related to the Fisherman’s Wharf area for several years. Their initial plans included 390 apartment homes, 36,000 square feet of restaurants, retail and artesian food and cafes, a 1-acre park, a 1,000-foot long boardwalk, rehabilitation of six retail buildings and the restoration of the area’s iconic lighthouse.
“The city basically shut the door on it, and so they just to me read the writing on the wall,” Sandoval said.
CHIP’s proposal for almost 400 new apartments saw push back from the city of Oxnard, some local residents, and ultimately the California Coastal Commission. The redevelopment project was derailed in August when the California Coastal Commission rejected Ventura County’s request to overrule the Oxnard City Council’s vote in November 2019 to deny an amendment to the city’s local coastal plan that would allow a mixed-use development at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Under Oxnard’s current local coastal plan, Fisherman’s Wharf is designated for visitor-serving commercial uses and harbor-related uses that support recreational boating and fishing. Ventura County had sought to amend the local coastal plan to allow for housing. Sandoval, along with other supporters of the CIHP project, believed a developer would not receive a return on their investment without housing part of the plan. Oxnard officials felt the proposal would take away too much public access to the coastline and was too massive.
Since the decision, Ventura County has been working on a “visioning process” for the redevelopment of Channel Islands Harbor as a whole, with Fisherman’s Wharf being a major focus. The county hired Sargent Town Planning to lead the process and created a steering committee made up of county and city officials, local residents, boaters and other harbor stakeholders.
As part of the visioning process, a virtual public forum has been scheduled for Jan. 20th at 6 p.m. It’s expected that Sargent Town Planning will give a presentation on development options for various parcels in the harbor, with Fisherman’s Wharf being one of them. The public will then be able to provide input.
“I think there’s been a lot of good ideas,” Sandoval said. “What I don’t know yet is if all the boxes will be checked.”
Sandoval said he is hoping this visioning process will be completed within the next three months and that they will come out of it with a blueprint for where to go with development in the harbor.