A new agreement between Ventura County and the City of Oxnard is expected to expedite harbor development.
VENTURA—After several years of lack of cooperation between the City of Oxnard and Channel Islands Harbor, regarding much-needed improvements to the Harbor, a new agreement between the city and the county was reached on May 18.
Over the past several years, there have been major disputes between the city and county over maintenance of public recreational areas and building permit issues, this new agreement calls for greater cooperation toward land development.
“When I started in this position, it quickly became evident that one of the most significant issues in the harbor was the ongoing conflict with the city regarding harbor development and operations. It took a while, but we finally settled these issues with the execution of a Cooperation Agreement last month,” said Channel Islands Harbor Director Mark Sandoval.
Sandoval went on to explain that this new agreement settles operational issues in the harbor, provides financial relief for harbor operations, extends the lease for the City Fire Station in the harbor, and provides a new tax sharing agreement to facilitate more efficient annexations of land from the county to the city in the future.
“The most important aspect of the Cooperation Agreement to me is the agreement regarding harbor development, whereby the harbor department and the city agree to work together on harbor development, from the initial visioning of the harbor to determine what should be developed, through the search for developers, the development entitlement process and regulatory plan changes as needed,” explained Sandoval.
Sandoval said that the new agreement should help expedite development in the harbor and create more widely accepted development by the public. Also, he stated that the Harbor Visioning Process will be shared with the Ventura County Board of Supervisors this June with a search for quality developers beginning soon thereafter.
Until new harbor development plans are in the works, the Harbor Department has decided to spruce up the dilapidated exterior of the Fisherman’s Wharf buildings situated at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Channel Islands Boulevard in Oxnard.
Sandoval noted that the buildings at Fisherman’s Wharf have not been painted in at least a decade, he explained that the reason was there were proposed developments at the time that were in process. However, those projects didn’t pan out.
In addition to applying new paint and repairing some of the wood, this area will retain its quaint Cape Cod look. The cost of the project is estimated to be $50,000.
“At the very least it’s a facelift for Fisherman’s Wharf,” Sandoval said. “We still have a lot of active businesses here and encourage people to come down and support them.”
In other harbor news, the long-awaited demolition of the boarded-up Casa Sirena Hotel and the Lobster Trap Restaurant on the harbor’s peninsula will begin by year’s end.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has stalled the development process by about 18 months. The good news is that the hotel developer has committed to begin the project by the end of 2021,” said Sandoval.
Once the demolition is complete, a new Hyatt House Hotel and adjoining restaurant will be constructed. In addition, to the revamp of the property, there will be a complete rebuild of the surrounding marinas and, a new protective rock revetment will be installed.
The expected costs for the new hotel and restaurant and the revetment projects are about $57.5 million. Marina redevelopment costs from Almar Marinas to rebuild and upgrade Peninsula and Bahia marinas are projected to be around $20 million.
“We will do the marinas, as we always do, in phases. The reason for that is to allow us to not displace our boaters and minimize their inconvenience,” stated Randy Short, president of Almar Management.
According to Short, Bahia Marina will be in phase one, as the new hotel sits where the utility access is located, so hotel demolition has to come first. Peninsula Marina construction will be timed with hotel construction in phase two, followed by the completion of Peninsula in phase three. When completed the marinas will have slips ranging in size from 21 feet to 131 feet.