Battle over Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf redevelopment being fought out in the shadows

By George Miller

Oxnard’s Fisherman’s Wharf was developed decades ago, under the auspices of Ventura County, which claims ownership of the lower Chanel Islands Harbor, where it is situated. An idyllic representation of a New England fishing village, it contains a working fishing wharf/processing facility, a lighthouse and shops/restaurants in a New England architectural style, as well as a waterfront promenade, trees and lots of parking to accommodate crowds for harbor events.

Over the years, the site/buildings have been allowed to greatly decay. Many buildings are now abandoned. Various excuses have been offered for all of this. The County seems to have concluded that the only way to reverse this and make it economically viable is to bring in high density residential development. A proposal for an 800 unit development was shot down, but Harbor Commissioner Lyn Krieger worked with developers to present a 400 unit “urban village” proposal. It was subsequently approved by the County Supervisors.

It appears that the project would provide needed housing, that it would be relatively high quality and bring in significant revenue to the county and the city.

But there’s only one problem– three actually:

  1. Residents are overwhelmingly opposed to it, based on protests to the County , City of Oxnard and the Coastal Commission.
  2. The City of Oxnard is opposed to it, citing violation of its regulations, quality of life issues and resident wishes expressed.
  3.  The California Coastal Commision has blocked it based on conflict with Oxnard regulations and coastal access issues.

The objections are mainly about density, congestion, infrastructure costs, safety and loss of access/public use of land specifically intended for public use, not private development. Although some space would be allocated for public use, it would be reduced dramatically and some say illegally. We have seen no detailed business plan and financials.

The County has been pressuring Oxnard to change its Local Coastal Plan To permit the development as approved by the Board of Supervisors. But there are also other issues with the Coastal Commission.

Negotiations of the dispute between Oxnard and the County of Ventura have been ongoing, but it’s been difficult to find useful information. Here’s some relevant recent correspondence which stakeholders should be made aware of …

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Rozell, Kenneth <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 7:15 AM
Subject: Letter to California Coastal Commission re: Fisherman’s Wharf Issues
To: Greg Nyhoff <[email protected]>, Ruth Osuna <[email protected]>, Ashley Golden <[email protected]>, Kathleen Mallory <[email protected]>
Cc: Luly Lopez <[email protected]>, Sarah Bryan <[email protected]>, Stephen Fischer <[email protected]>


Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers:

Attached is a copy of the letter from Stephen Fischer to the California Coastal Commission relating to the County’s request for a dispute resolution process relating to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Briefly, the County’s dispute resolution request is an attempt by the County to have its application for Public Works Plan Amendment #7  relating to Fisherman’s Wharf deemed complete — even though the County has not met the Coastal Commission’s requirements for the application.  While there have been multiple reasons why the application has not been deemed complete, a key reason is that the Public Works Plan Amendment #7 is not consistent with the City’s Local Coastal Plan, which does not currently allow residential uses at Fisherman’s Wharf.  As you know, the proposed developer is proposing about 400 apartment units on the site, with minimal commercial components.
Given the size of the exhibits that are attached to this letter, I have not attached the exhibits to this e-mail.  You will, however, be receiving a physical copy of the letter (with exhibits) in your City Hall mailbox.

Finally, this letter will be transmitted to the County Board of Supervisors and County Executive Officer Michael Powers by regular mail so they should have a copy of this letter by Thursday.

This email is being distributed to Councilmembers by blind copy (bcc) to facilitate compliance with the Brown Act.

Kenneth Rozell
Assistant City Attorney
City of Oxnard
305 W. Third St. Suite 100E
Oxnard, CA 93030
Read the attached letter: OxnardFishermansWharf–08152017113914
That was in response to the County’s previous proposed settlement offre: VC Fisherman’s Wharf Settlement Offer 20170814173935 (1)
Letter from Oxnard City Manager Greg Nyhoff to VC CEO: Oxnard Letter to Michael Powers 8_16_17
Some previous articles

George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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Coleen McBride
Coleen McBride
1 year ago

Im trying to find information about donating $$$ to help fight this development effort as well as stay better informed about the underhanded efforts of the County and developer. Can someone post a phone number or email of someone to contact?

Dotty Pringle
Dotty Pringle
3 years ago

Now, if we can get the people to all work together and not exclude residents we will get further.
The Nextdoor website now seems to put false info about about events and Veterans, some people believe everything on there.
Too bad they have taken focus off of Harbor to just micro manage US and tell others what they can and cannot do with NO AUTHORITY in public, all screamed at from behind the scenes.
Leads on Nextdoor are getting incredible egos with enough nerve, 3 leads have accused a Veteran of not bring a Veteran. HBCA thank you for your unpatriotic views and crazy takeover of our public harbor hurting many in our community with your
dirty deeds behind Nextdoor scenes.
All Vets and others, please stand up for
Bruce Johnson, a great man with a loving family and tons of great friends!
Happy Holidays!!

Dotty Pringle
Dotty Pringle
3 years ago

How about this Harbor Enterprise Fund? It was to be used to maintain the harbor but yet it was used to pay Dennis Heitmann.
Has this fund and money been misappropriated?
Sure looks like this Enterpruse Fund was not used as it was intended. It is to keep blithe from Channel Islands Harbor, maybe to advertise and promote harbor businesses coming in.
Why was this account not used for it’s main purpose Mr. Zaragosa and Mrs. Krieger?
My Account Funding request is on your desks, coming thru
your retirement office.
Looking Forward To Your Accounting Explanations To The Public!

Dotty Pringle
Dotty Pringle
3 years ago

Mayor Flynn says more info coming in the fall.

Thanks to all who still continue on our endeavor to save our harbor. Public Land For Public Use!

Keep writing!

Dotty Pringle
CI Harbor Research Lady

Bill Higgins
Bill Higgins
3 years ago

The Fisherman’s Wharf is public property, belonging to all members of the public. Not just the few who can afford the expensive leases of this private proposal. 800 t0 !,000 cars for tenaents at the corner of the already congested intersection of Channel Islands Blvd and Victoria Ave. would be a traffic nightmare and block emergency evacuation routes to the beach visitors and residents. This property should be redeveloped by the County as is.

Wendy Lee
Wendy Lee
3 years ago

I think your use of the phrase ‘fought out in the shadows’ is spot on. The ‘County’, Harbor Director, and the wealthy L.A. Developer have all kept this project and its facts ‘quiet’ and in the shadows for a long time. Despite their collective assertion that the Channel Islands Harbor Community was kept abreast of the project and its phases, and allowed participation and due process throughout each early and fundamental step, I think most members of the community will tell you that they knew absolutely nothing about it during the project’s inception, designing, and subsequent promotion phases. Even today, many people are unaware of the apartment development project or the negative impact it would have on the harbor and the surrounding community. It is only through the efforts of people within the Oxnard and Harbor community, and published articles such as yours, that the ‘facts’ have been, and continue to be, revealed.
I think this is an issue well worth learning about, and I thank you for bringing this to light (and out of the shadow) for those who are unaware of the project and its facts. I look forward to an update on the issue.

Debbie Mitchell
Debbie Mitchell
3 years ago

SO awesome that the City is standing firm on this and not being bullied!