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    By Christina Zubko

    Yesterday, Congress passed an historic Bill that will go toward helping the environment without using taxpayer dollars: The Land and Water Conservation Fund. Environmentalists around the country cheered.
    Today locals are wrestling with another environmental issue:  What to do about the Temporary Vehicle Parking Project proposed for the 34 acres on the southeast corner of Hueneme Road and Perkins Road in the city of Oxnard. The Oxnard Harbor District has requested a Special Use Permit to store nearly 5,000 cars on that 34 acre parcel of land, which runs adjacent to the Ormond Beach wetlands. The Special Use Permit would expire in 5 years; however, it is unclear if the Special Use Permit can be renewed indefinitely. Today, the window for public comments about this project closes at 5:00 pm, approximately 30 days after the window first opened.
    The Temporary Vehicle Parking Project will consist of:
    • Vehicle parking area with gravel base
    • Temporary guard house
    • Portable restroom
    • Perimeter site lighting
    • Security fencing (6-feet-high)
    • Landscaping
    • Site drainage
    • Associated infrastructure improvements (i.e., curb cuts, apron, etc.) 
    The Oxnard Harbor District maintains that the environmental impacts of this project are minimal and up until January 2019 the city of Oxnard agreed.  That was when a flurry of 200 public comments expressing concerns over the project were submitted, forcing the city to slow down and conduct a full Environmental Impact Review (EIR).
    It seems to me that the city of Oxnard needs to figure out its vision for South Oxnard.  On one hand, elected officials talk about the blight of industry in that area.  After all, the area is home to the GenOn power plant, the Halaco Superfund Site, a slag pile that has been compromised by a colony of homeless individuals, a dilapidated water treatment facility, the Indy plant with its noxious odors, and a railroad that cuts through a coastal zone. 
    Earlier this year the city of Oxnard championed the environment:  They brokered a quid-pro-quo deal with the GenOn executives that essentially allows for the power plant to run until 2027 so long as GenOn creates a fund to pay for the plant’s demolition.  Additionally, Oxnard officials have pushed for environmental justice, especially in South Oxnard.  For over two decades they have supported the design and implementation of the Ormond Beach Restoration and Access Plan (OBRAP).  
    Yet on the other hand, these same officials are now considering making one of the access points named in the OBRAP–Perkins Road–a huge car lot with fences high enough to block the view of the pristine Ventura coastline. What about the bright lights that will shine 24/7, potentially disturbing the circadian rhythm not only of humans living in the apartments across the street but also of wildlife living in the area. This project proposes that it will create jobs.  Here is the reality:  it will employ 3 security guards, 10 drivers to move the cars from the Port to the car lot, and a few shuttle drivers. The city of Port Hueneme will make $3.00 on every car that moves through (the Port says it will move up to 250 cars per day five days a week).
    Just as the federal government begins to show a national consciousness about the environment, it is troubling that the city of Oxnard would literally take Joni Mitchell’s lyrics from “Big Yellow Taxi” and “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”
    A car lot is still a car lot, and hopefully the city of Oxnard realizes that even if the EIR shows that this project has a minimal impact on the environment, most environmentalists will see the EIR for what it is: putting lipstick on a pig. 
    Christina Zubko is one of the founding members of the local environmental group Friends of Ormond Beach.  She is also a contributor to Oxnard Voice and Hueneme Voice. Friends of Ormond Beach can be contacted at [email protected].  Follow Friends of Ormond Beach on FaceBook and Instagram. 

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    Victor E. Gallardo
    Victor E. Gallardo
    2 years ago

    If the longshoremen are to drive the cars from ship to new I can accept this plan. If the plan is to drive car off ship park car and then have retired folks from PVP drive cars to new lot I am against it. The retired work force makes minimum hourly wage. Which does not help the local economy. By having the union work force which will make more per hour more money will be spent at local businesses. By contract the car goes from ship to first spot of rest, which is normally a long-term parking spot. Long term being 24 hours or longer. Each car pays a duty per day so it’s a more money for harbor district. The two Commissioners who are union members ( one retired ) should have voted to help the union case and help the local economy. A another problem may have been a commissioner wanting higher political office and having self serving interrest.

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