Covid-19 pandemic gives Coastal Commission reason to delay consideration of project plans at a later date.
OXNARD—A public hearing on the city of Oxnard’s request to build taller and denser buildings at Channel Islands Harbor, while also modifying other uses at the waterfront’s Fisherman’s Wharf site, was delayed by the California Coastal Commission, May 14.
Commissioners, at the recommendation of Coastal Commission staff, approved the hearing extension because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oxnard submitted a request to amend its Land Use Plan (LUP) to allow for taller and denser buildings on the Channel Islands Harbor waterfront to the Coastal Commission on Jan. 27. Coastal Commission staff, about two weeks later, determined the request was proper and legally adequate. A public hearing on the LUP amendment was scheduled to occur on June 18.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, however, would make it difficult for a public hearing on the LUP amendment proposal to be heard on June 18.
The Coastal Act allows for the hearing to be extended for good cause, for up to one year. Coastal Commission staff sought an extension, “in order to allow adequate time to review and analyze the amendment and to allow greater scheduling flexibility,” according to a staff report.
“[Coastal Commission] staff recommends that the commission extend [the public hearing] deadline for a full year, as provided by the Coastal Act, to allow the subject amendment to be brought to a hearing at a later date,” the Coastal Commission staff report stated.
Newsom’s executive order, issued on March 4, declared a state of emergency in California, as a result of the threat of Covid-19. Another executive order, issued on April 16, applied the state of emergency to Coastal Commission meetings.
“Despite sustained efforts, Covid-19 continues to spread and is impacting nearly all sectors of California,” the order stated. “Illness due to Covid-19 and physical distancing requirements imposed to limit the spread of the virus impede the ability of the California Coastal Commission, the State Water Resources Control Board, member of the public and others to meet certain time limits.”
Oxnard and Ventura County have been trying to redevelop Fisherman’s Wharf and Channel Islands Harbor since the mid-2000s. Much of the infrastructure at Fisherman’s Wharf and the harbor is aging and visibly dilapidated. Most recent plans call for the harbor waterfront to allow for residential uses at Fisherman’s Wharf and taller buildings along or near the waterfront. Retail uses and public walkways are also proposed.
The Log will continue to track this news item and report on when the public hearing occurs, be it on 2021 or earlier.