Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf Redevelopment Hits Coastal Commission Snag

By Tim Pompey

The current redevelopment proposal for Fisherman’s Wharf, managed by the Ventura County Harbor Department, and in cooperation with developers Geoff Palmer,Tom Tellefsen & Peter Mullen of Channel Islands Properties, LLC, has been delayed by the California Coastal Commission, primarily over concerns about conflicts with current Oxnard city zoning ordinances and questions regarding the County’s proposed traffic management study. Read:  CCC incomplete PWP-4-CIH-16-0005-2

The proposed plan is to build 390 apartments and add 37,000 feet of commercial retail space along the Channel Islands and Victoria corridor. The apartments would include one level of underground parking and three stories of housing (see layout below)

Site Plan

Proposed Fisherman’s Wharf redevelopment site plan. McGrath12-27-60 #36withmap-2.pdf

(For a LARGER VIEW)

 

FishermansWharfWestSide

Oxnard’s existing Fisherman’s Wharf, view from West, styled on a New England fishing village. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

 

FishermansWharfFrontView. Photo: Tim Pompey

Exsting Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf front view From Victoria Ave. and Channel Islands Blvd. It appears that there will be far less commercial space and far less public parking in the proposed plan.  Photo: Tim Pompey

 

The Commission sent the current proposal for redevelopment back to the Ventura County Harbor Department for further consideration.

The proposed redevelopment of Fisherman’s Wharf has pitted the county against both local residents and the city of Oxnard; in particular complaints about local and city inclusion in the County’s decision making process.

But the project’s most recent snag has come from the California Coastal Commission, which recently submitted a letter to Ventura County Harbor Department Director Lyn Krieger informing her that the approval process would be delayed based on eight different reasons. A few of these include:

* Lack of coordination with the city of Oxnard regarding proposed zoning changes. The CCC found that the Harbor Department did not receive preliminary approval from the City of Oxnard for zoning changes and that the amendment (known as Amendment 7) regarding a change in height variance from 25 to 55 feet is “not consistent with the Oxnard Local Coastal Plan (LCP).”

The Commission recommended the Harbor District work directly with the city of Oxnard to change the zoning from its current status as CVC (coastal visitors serving recreational opportunities for visitors) and HCI (zoning for private and commercial fishing) to zoning that would include residential, retail, and commercial uses.

* The traffic reports submitted by the Harbor Department (studied in April 2016) did not take into account the increased volume of traffic during the summer months.

* The proposed “Amendment 7″ approved by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors last June, which allows for development of a mixed-use project at Fisherman’s Wharf did not include any discussion regarding “how the areas of residential and commercial space were determined or how the proposed configuration was chosen.”

While the plan works its way through the CCC approval process, local debate continues about the plan’s desirability and feasibility.

For County Supervisor John Zaragoza, the proposed development will greatly boost the local area’s economy.

Calling the current state of Fisherman’s Wharf an “attractive nuisance” and a drain on homeowners’ current equity, he thinks the redevelopment is important because the Wharf itself is the “gateway to the Channel Islands.”

“I believe that by redeveloping Fisherman’s Wharf, it will help the local area, the city of Oxnard, and the county as a whole,” said Zaragoza. “The city of Oxnard right now also needs a lot of financial help, and the sales tax on this project is going to the city.”

FishermansWharfIHAerialPhoto

Existing Fisherman’s Wharf circled in red

channelislandsharbormap

 

Calling the apartments “top of the line,” Zaragoza believes this proposal fits in with the overall continuing upgrade of the harbor area, which includes a newly remodeled Maritime Museum, the Marine Emporium, and a new Lobster Trap.

“I know it’s in my district and that some people do not want it because of concerns like traffic,” he noted, “but I believe these apartments will help the whole community, and I think we really need it. It’s really for the benefit of all the city of Oxnard and all the county of Ventura.”

The concern Zaragoza referred to has come primarily from the city of Oxnard and several organized groups of local residents.

The Oxnard City Council unanimously opposed the new harbor management agreement, which gives Oxnard almost no say on what happens in the lower harbor (south of the bridges), which is within the City of Oxnard. When asked why, Mayor Tim Flynn noted simply that “the people of Oxnard feel excluded from the process.” Mayor Flynn and Councilman Bert Perello are both on another Channel Islands Harbor Commission and both oppose the project. When asked why the Council hasn’t voted on the project, he said because it isn’t under City jurisdiction. He was receptive to bringing up a resolution on it, though.

“The county’s process is structured around exclusion,” Flynn elaborated. “First, bids for proposals are reviewed in closed session. Second, most plans for the harbor do not go through the county Planning Commission and are handled on an administrative level. Finally, the county’s Master Plan for the Harbor needs to be updated and structured around a charrette process that engages and gets consensus from the residents.”

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Zaragoza reminds the public that an even larger project back in 2008 involving 600-800 apartments received County Supervisor approval and would have been built in the current Wharf location had it not been for the recent economic recession.

Lyn Krieger, department director for the Ventura County Harbor Department, believes that the issues the Coastal Commission raises are standard practice and that the future of the wharf’s redevelopment remains on track to be approved.

“The incomplete letter from the Coastal Commission is a pretty standard part of the process,” Krieger explained. “I am not aware of any project of this type that has not been subject to at least one of these.  There was nothing in the letter that we had not already discussed with Commission staff.  We’ll be writing a response shortly.”

FishermansWharfBlightRestaurant

Buildings have been allowed to deteriorate. This was a nice restaurant 15 years ago.

Krieger believes the project as proposed will greatly benefit the Harbor District and that the housing is necessary financially to implement other commercial and retail projects at the harbor.

“It provides for visitor serving uses such as restaurants and shops, plus a few offices,” she said, “a wider and much improved pedestrian promenade, a small park with play equipment and seating area on the waterfront at the south end of the project, and rental housing in the coastal zone, which is in short supply.  The addition of the housing allows for the retail/commercial, which would not be financially feasible without it.”

However, the current friction between the harbor department and the city of Oxnard means that if the district follows the Commission’s recommendations, the harbor department will need to forge a new relationship with the city of Oxnard and its planning department and backtrack to encourage support by the Oxnard city council.

Given the current resistance of both the city council and the mayor to the project, and the need to work with the planning department to request zoning changes for the wharf, this may be a much larger problem than the harbor department is currently willing to acknowledge.

Project opponents

The strongest local opposition to the plan seems to be from a group calling itself The Harbor & Beach Community Alliance (H&BCA) (see their “Channel Islands Neighbors” web site: http://cineighbors.com). They are working with a nonprofit group: Western Alliance for Nature, which is helping to facilitate their efforts to raise significant funds for legal expenses. H&BCA intends to aggressively oppose the County’s application with the Coastal Commission and if the decision goes against them, to litigate it via an appeal lawsuit. They told us that donations may be remitted to: Western Alliance for Nature, 3600 S. Harbor Blvd., #488, Oxnard, Ca 93035; write on check memo line: Channel Islands Harbor.

In a statement released by thew group, the redevelopment proposal is opposed for several reasons including:

* Potential problems with traffic and the conversion of commercial and public recreational space for private development

* The possible adverse impact on the property’s public use and access to publicly funded boating facilities

* A lack of an Environmental Impact Report and a lack of planning for emergency evacuation

* The allowance of an unprecedented height variance by the County Board of Supervisors up to 55 feet

FishermansWharfPetition

The Harbor & Beach Community Alliance provided this photo of their booth at Fishermans Wharf for collecting protest petitions.

The group provided us with this statement:

As you may be aware, the Coastal Commission staff has declared the Harbor Department’s application for Amendment 7 of the Public Works Plan for the harbor was declared incomplete today.  The Commission has indicated that the Harbor Department must now provide what was missing from the application.  This will delay it going to a Coastal Commission hearing.  It is not clear yet for how long.
 
The Harbor & Beach Community Alliance will continue its effort to oppose this Amendment when it is resubmitted.  We will also be working to oppose any amendment to the current City of Oxnard’s Local Coastal Plan or any change in the updated Local Coastal Plan that would not be in the interests of the public regarding development at the Channel Islands Harbor.  In respect to the proposed Amendment 7 of the PWP, we have attached a copy of the reasons we believe this Amendment 7 is not in the interest of the county residents, visitors to the Harbor and the nearby residents. Please see the attached and let me know if you have any questions.  Please note we are still in the process of adding to this document as research and find more issues with the Amendment.  We will send you more information as appropriate.  We are still discussing what and who should be interviewed.  Please be patient we are an informal group of neighbors.
 
Best regards,
The Harbor & Beach Community Alliance
 
Mike Mercandante, Chairman of The Channel Islands Community Association (CICA) http://CIHarbor.org, also objects strongly to the project, as currently presented.

 

Additional Materials

Read Coastal Commission rejection of County’s Fisherman’s Wharf redevelopment proposal: CCC incomplete PWP-4-CIH-16-0005-2

Channel Islands Harbor Public Areas Plan and Design Guidelines

Contact Us
http://channelislandsharbor.org/Fisherman’s%20Wharf.html

Notices


Public Works Plan


Reports

 

Documents supplied by The Harbor & Beach Community Alliance (http://cineighbors.com), a group opposed to the current redevelopment plan:

http://cineighbors.com/county-of-ventura-wharf-related-documents/

 

Other Documents

Bard agreement of land grant

Bard deed with boundaries of land grant

Bard land public works

Bard Deed of Gift Documents

Los Angeles Wants $20 Million From Developer of Burnt Downtown Apartment Building – Curbed LA

Los Angeles sues Da Vinci Apartment developer for $20 million due to fire damage – The Orange County

Builder Charged With Violating Campaign Rules

G Palmer and LA Times

Demolishing Building


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More photos…. Will these survive? ….

FishermansWharfProcessing

The existing Fisherman’s Wharf has a functioning fish unloading, processing and storage facility. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

 

FishermansWharfSigns

Oxnard Fisherman’s Wharf Channel Islands Blvd. entrance. There are other lessees not shown on these signs, such as Hopper Boat Rentals, Studio Gallery, a fish processor and more. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us./

 

 

FishermansWharfGftShop

Located in the back of Fisherman’s Wharf and hard to find, Studio Gallery sells art work and gifts. Photo: George Miller/CitizensJournal.us

 
HopperBoatRentals

Hopper Boat Rentals, a marina and guest docks are to the south. Photo: George Miller, CitizensJournal.us

 
ChannelIslandsHarborOriginalPlan

Original Channel Islands Harbor Plan

 
LARGER IMAGE
 

Tim Pompey, a freelance writer who has done lots of local affairs and entertainment/cultural writing, lives in Oxnard. Tim is also a fiction writer (Facebook Page). You can learn about his books on Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/booksbytimpompey. More CitizensJournal.us Tim Pompey articles.

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Sh
Sh
4 years ago

Very top picture is idyllic and any new plan should incorporate this style and many of the buildings . Visuals are important for both residents and tourists. Nothing in the above site plan looked appealing.

They call me buck
They call me buck
4 years ago

I’ll believe this is for the people if the apartments are affordable.

Buckaroo
Buckaroo
4 years ago

This area is run down and dangerous.. such a shame. This video shows how bad it is:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsNxMAXZmCg