Ormond Beach development plan presented to Oxnard City Council

By George Miller

A long time in the making, an Ormond beach proposed development plan was presented at the Oxnard City Council on Tuesday evening, October 21. 2014. After an introduction by Dr. Chris Williamson, the main presentation was made by Peter Brand on a Development Program Proposal for the Area South of Hueneme Road and East of Edison Drive. Moore Ruble and Yudell, Architects, did much of the work to convert ideas into a more specific plan. It was received with great enthusiasm- and a few concerns and warnings. Keep in mind that it is a “big picture” concept plan at this point and authors realize that much work remains to be done. City Council and City Manager were favorably disposed toward the plan, but have unanswered questions, as would be normal for such a broad scope initiative.

OrmondHeadline

Concept

The proposed restoration and development would be a long term project, not over years, but decades.  Stated goals are to restore the wetlands/beaches to their pristine original condition, provide improved wildlife habitat, recreation, as well as help develop the regional economy- Port Hueneme, S. Oxnard, Camarillo- via eco-tourism and injecting agricultural research activities run by UC (University of California). Involved were the Coastal Commission, UC, local Ormond Beach enthusiasts, environmental organizations, civic organizations, local government officials. We were told offline by plan participants that the plan was paid for by the Coastal Commission.

The presenter informed us that is the largest single coastal wetlands area in Southern California, when the adjacent military base wetlands are considered. We were also told by two people who attended the last planning meetings that the plan presented differed significantly from what was presented several weeks ago.

UC would establish an agricultural research campus and demonstration farm. They already have the Hansen facility in Ventura.

This all constitutes significantly more development than just creating a wetland park with basic access and facilities infrastructure, so it is not really restoring the original pristine wilderness.

It seems like an awfully long walk to the beach from parking lots, if we interpreted the rather big picture graphics correctly, unless current access routes are also retained.

Regional trails going inland and along the coast would be created or linked to this new development. We heard in the lobby (names withheld) that there was some controversy and contention about who would be permitted to use these trails- public or just students and employees.

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Development area highlighted (Source 10/21 Oxnard City Council presentation on Ormond Beach)

 

Development

The plan includes a community park, welcome center, village center, hospitality/conference center (sounds like a resort hotel?),  garden restaurant, auditorium/event center, UC agricultural research campus, habitat restoration nursery, demonstration farm.

Doing all this would require the acquisition, tear down and environmental remediation of the existing NRG Ormond Beach power station, the Halaco superfund toxic waste site, as well as acquisition and wilding of the Agromin fertilizer/potting soil facility and some adjacent farmland. Agromin has already been given its walking papers and plans a move to their much larger Santa Paula facility.

The problem is that all of this would be extremely expensive. Some people seem to think that NRG will vacate the power plant, demolish and remediate it it for free starting in 2020. CJ Conversations with NRG personnel left the impression that such action is far from a foregone conclusion, that it may not be vacated at all and if it is, teardown and turnover would only be done with the conditional approval of a new low-footprint, greener, smaller power plant to replace the aging NRG Mandalay Beach plant. City Council has expressed its firm opposition to that plan, so it’s anybody’s guess how all this would play out. Then, there’s the site preparation,grading, infrastructure and facilities construction and subsequent staffing, operation and maintenance. It’s not clear what organization would administer it and whether free access would be maintained or would admission fees need to be levied.

It is our understanding that in order for development to proceed, the area would need be annexed to the City of Oxnard (Dr. Williamson said it could be done without voter approval per S.O.A.R.). The specific plan approvals for “South Shore” and “South Ormond Beach” would be required, but have never been approved.  The area is now zoned “urban reserve.”  Ref: Goal 22 Chapter 23 in General Plan.  the 235 acre study area in question is actually separate and adjacent to the adjoining wetlands.

Lab

Finance

No financial estimates are offered. Costs could reach hundreds of millions of  dollars.

The plan would rely very heavily upon Federal and State funding, along with endowments, to pay for it. Many potential avenues to this come to mind, since it could tap funds for economic development, coastal preservation, research agriculture, job training, and industry-specific govt. programs. The question is- what will the availability of funds be in already technically bankrupt state and federal governments, which may be going into a retrenchment approach. To this, Mayor Pro-Tem Ramirez said that if we don’t request the money, someone else will and it will go elsewhere.

A spokesman for the local landowners said they expect just compensation for any infringement of property rights or sale of the properties.

Economic Development  

It is believed that the addition traffic generated for area eco-tourism would increase money spent in the area for lodging, meals, shopping, etc.  as well as provide more jobs for the construction and subsequent operation of the facilities. although proponents say it would primarily benefit Port Hueneme and South Oxnard, the main gateway into Ormond Beach from the colossal metropolis to the South would be the 101 Freeway to Las Posas, or the Coast Highway up through Malibu. The question is, how to draw traffic west to the target areas?

Speakers wanted to make sure that jobs are reserved for locals and that economic benefits are guaranteed. One wonders how that could be done.

It is unknown how much additional development would be done in the area. It is also unclear how much latitude private developers would have to innovate, within zoning and plan guidelines and how much would be dictated by the planners.

 

 Reports

Here are the visuals presented at the meeting, which provide some more info:

Document: Item P-1 Coastal Conservancy- Ormond Beach Concept Master Plan Study (pdf 846 Kb)

Document: Item P-1 Coastal Conservancy (pdf 7,083 kb)

Council meeting docs:

Name Date Duration Agenda Minutes Video
City Council Meeting October 21, 2014 06h 08m Agenda Minutes Video

 

Previous Ormond Beach planning workshop (Photo: Dan Pinedo)

 

Previous CJ Ormond Beach articles:

Oxnard: Ormond Beach movement makes further progress …

Walter_Fuller_Recognition – Citizensjournal.us

Oxnard: Debates coastal power plant proposal …

Beloved Ormond Beach caretaker receives Recognition …

 

George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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