Persistent kayakers continue fight via Coastal Commission for use of Kiddie Beach launch at Channel Islands Harbor

By George Miller

The members of the California Kayak Friends club had used Kiddie Beach, inside the entrance to Channel Islands Harbor ,for decades to launch and land their kayaks.  It’s a nice little “pocket beach,” located close to the ocean where they usually paddle. With a nice parking lot, short walk to the beach, nearby restrooms, restaurants and stores, it was perfect. They even dedicated two benches there to club presidents who passed away. Most of the time, except for warmer weekend afternoons for a few months a year, the sand is nearly empty.

In the busy season, the kayakers would courteously use the more rugged and much less convenient “Hobie Beach” just to the north, adjacent to the Coast Guard station. But, with beach erosion and deterioration of the ramp, it is now much more difficult to use that area, which also has very limited parking and beach access. So, Kiddie Beach was always the preferred spot otherwise.

But all that came to an abrupt end in 2016 when county employees began enforcing an obscure ban on the use of watercraft there. If anyone knows why, they aren’t telling. These restrictions apply to all comers- clubs, groups, individuals and all watercraft- manually or powered. As far as we know, there haven’t been any incidents.  It might be just another one of those bureaucratic idiosyncrasies that Venture County is not immune to. Yes, Ventura County. The land that Kiddie Beach is on, in fact all the harbor area south of the bridges, is under the jurisdiction of the county, even  though it is in Oxnard and unincorporated areas. This makes for overlapping and sometimes competing  jurisdictions, Read our stories about the battle for Fisherman’s Wharf, a little farther north, if you want to learn more about that. 

The county has instructed kayakers to use guest docks about a mile farther from the ocean, up Victoria Avenue. It is a much longer kayak and gear haul to the docks from the parking lot- and of course a longer paddle to the ocean. Older or partially disabled paddlers can’t readily use it, or the questionably useful launching device installed there by the county.

Anyway, Robert Tongen – AKA “Baidarka Bob” of CKF ended up as the designated hitter to coordinate activity on the access issues with the County and also The California Coastal Commission, still another entity with some jurisdiction. This unelected, largely unaccountable body may even have the last word on the matter. Tongen has been fighting a years long battle with the intransigent county bureaucracy for years. He has also made contact with the Coastal Commission, attempting to fine-tune and present the club’s plea for access, with help from other groups/individuals. The petitioners are asking that a narrow strip of sand on the north end of the beach be opened to watercraft launching, similar to what is done at Mother’s Beach in Ventura, but far smaller.

Robert Tongen (blue shirt) and Connie Korenstein (pink) at a meeting at Kiddie Beach last year. Photo: George Miller/

Here is his account of the last such contact, at a Commission meeting in nearby Port Hueneme ….

 California Coastal Commission Meeting

This morning the California Coastal Commission met at the Port of Hueneme Office. The purpose of attending was to offer public comments, and bring focus on the status of the Public Works Plan Amendment that was laid out in (ed: outgoing) Harbor Director Krieger to allow paddlers to use Kiddie Beach to launch and land.
Public comments were to be from 9:00 to 9:30 with a maximum of 3 minutes each.  We were informed just before 9:00 that public comments would be after the Commission Meeting was complete, so they started about 10:30.
Before the meeting, I cornered Director Krieger in the hall, stating I was going to speak about Kiddie Beach.  She said that they have been making progress and she had some other ideas.
Connie Korenstein, resident of Silver Strand Beach, close to Kiddie Beach, and I made comments on Kiddie Beach.   George Miller introduced me to Connie when Supervisor Zaragoza met with us at Kiddie Beach.  She made very enthusiastic, emotional, and compelling comments.  
Here is the email I sent Director Krieger after the meeting.
Director Krieger,
Glad we could meet in the hallway this morning, at the California Coastal Commission meeting, and discuss plans for allowing paddlers use of Kiddie Beach.
All the paddlers are very much looking forward to hearing where the PWP amendment approval for allowing paddling from Kiddie Beach you talked of this morning.
Thank you in advance.
Robert Tongen
California Kayak Friends and on behalf of all Channel Islands Harbor paddlers.
Glad Connie participated.
Thank you for your interest.

A comment from Connie Korenstein:

Our comments about Kiddie Beach were among many other important environmental issues that were delivered by impassioned people from all over the Los Angeles area. 

Just before the meeting adjourned, one of the commissioners, Erik Howell, asked CCC staff to clarify why kayakers and paddlers do not have access to Kiddie Beach.  Steve Hudson, the District Director of the South Central Coast, confirmed that there have been talks between county and CCC staff, but that the County Harbor Dept. has not yet filed a PWP amendment. The meeting was videotaped and can be seen online

VC Supervisor meets with paddlers at Oxnard’s Kiddie Beach on watercraft ban

VC Supervisor meets with paddlers at Oxnard’s Kiddie Beach on watercraft banBy George Miller -Watercraft/paddling ban is now being enforced at Kiddie Beach, Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard Meetings with Ventura County Harbor Department, which has jurisdiction in lower harbor, have been inconclusive for many months Paddling organizations have proposed a 25-30′ strip of land on north end of beach be used for launchings/landings Beach is nearly […]

Meeting at Kiddie Beach about the kayak/paddling ban

Meeting at Kiddie Beach about the kayak/paddling banThe Ventura County Harbor Dept shut down Kiddie Beach (in Oxnard) to Kayakers and paddlers last year. They’ve posted signs and the lifeguards or harbor patrol chase us away and threaten citations. People in the neighborhood have been wheeling their kayaks and launching from Kiddie Beach for years and years with no problems.  We were […]

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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