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

Paddlers seek to restore practical coastal access

By 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 empty most of the time, except warm summer weekends in the daytime, late morning-dusk.
  • Zaragoza made no promises except attempting to look into it and help

Ben Tai Tai and outrigger crew demonstrate use of their requested watercraft egress point at the north end of Kiddie Beach, Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. West side of harbor visible in background. Photo: George Miller/

Supervisor Zaragoza met with kayak and outrigger enthusiasts over a watercraft ban which affects their use at Kiddie Beach. Actually the ordinance banning it is broader, prohibiting watercraft within 100 feet of swimmers anywhere in the county. It wasn’t enforced at Kiddie Beach until about a year ago and now affects paddlers who used the beach and more who ply the harbor who would like to use the beach.

The regulation in question is Ventura County Ordinance 4439 and the specific applicable clause in Section 6404-5 on page 8 is:

It clearly states that the Director (currently Lyn Krieger) can make discretionary exceptions.

The meeting was initiated by outrigger canoe leader Ben Taitai, who seemed a little upset about competing for meeting air time with about 55 attendees, also representing kayak clubs, individual kayakers, even paddleboarders. His request was very simple: carve out a 25-30 foot strip on the north end of the beach for launchings and landings (see photo above).

Taitai said that there are really no other suitable places to launch/land their 40 foot outrigger canoes in the harbor.  He also pointed out that Kiddie Beach is the only suitable launch location with wheelchair accessibility. His group brings out disabled passengers in their outrigger canoes. Hobie Beach, just a little north, with its steep rocky ramp and hardly any beach, is out of the question. The guest dock isn’t practical. The main launching ramp is another mile from the ocean, hard concrete and sometimes slippery. Looks logistically difficult. There are parking/usage fees as well.  Much more difficult for disabled people to use. The soft sand/gradually sloping surface of Kiddie Beach is best suited. He also pointed out that Kiddie Beach’s fine sand is much easier on boat hulls than the rocky Hobie Beach.

We don’t know of any problems or injuries to swimmers at Kiddie Beach due to paddling craft. Harbor personnel were not at the meeting to query.


California Kayak Friends club (CKF) members have used Kiddie Beach as their Sunday and often weekdays launching Ventura County headquarters for decades, until last year’s crackdown. Two deceased club Presidents even have benches dedicated to them right where the meeting was held. Longtime kayaker Bob Tongen of Thousand Oaks has been representing club member interests on this issue and was present. An attached PDF below outlines his presentation last year to the Coastal Commission. Also see his letter, below, of 6-27-17, which summarizes where he thinks they are in the process now. He says that he has been following up with the county every 2-3 weeks and building a file.

California Kayak Friends (CKF) representative Robert Tongen (AKA Baidarka Bob), off Port of Hueneme.

Tongen had lobbied the county and Coastal Commission for these objectives:

• Access to Oxnard Harbor offseason/while Hobie Beach is closed/upgraded
• Input to planning and design upgrade to Hobie Beach
• Continue Working Relationship with Oxnard Harbor Management

CKF members would often avoid Kiddie Beach on crowded summer days, but the deteriorating conditions at Hobie Beach, their alternate site, have made that increasingly difficult.

Tongen has pointed out to The Coastal Commission, Zaragoza and Harbor Department that the VC regulation exceeds state laws, is discretionary and that other harbors already accommodate more than what CKF is asking for:

Source: Bob Tongen CKF presentation to Coastal Commission and VC Harbor Dept. (link in this article)



Local residents have also been involved in helping to organize residents in the effort to restore paddler access to Kiddie Beach. Connie Korenstein and several others were present to lend support to the effort and articulate some of the points mentioned herein.

Multiple people pointed out that the harbor is intended to provide coastal access to people for various aquatic uses and that not doing so for paddling from Kiddie Bach may be  in violation of Coastal Commission rules. Robert Tongen has pointed out that no change in ordinances is required and not even County Supervisor action is required, since the applicable ordinance requires only a permit from the Harbor Director.

The ordinance in question is ostensibly for safety via separation of swimmers and watercraft. However, launching and landing in such benevolent conditions as usually exist at this beach seem acceptable to the petitioners.  We’re not aware of any significant numbers of complaints, but the County may feel the need to tread carefully to ensure swimmers’ safety and minimize the county’s potential liability.

Various paddling constituencies (about 55 people) came to meet with VC Supervisor Zaragoza (wearing tie) at Kidde Beach, Oxnard, on 6-27-17. Photo: GeorgeMiller/

Someone (Lonnie Jarvis?)  pointed out that there was  a launching ramp at the south end of the beach at one time, It was removed, but the option may still be available to revive it.  Another participant pointed out that Hobie Beach was set up during the 70’s, when Hobie Cat sailing craft were the rage. Now, kayaks and paddleboards are in fashion and are very common on the local waters. At least two harbor rental agencies, the Channel Islands Boating Center and many private owners are fielding these craft in increasingly large numbers.

The Army Corps of Engineers configured the area between Kiddie Beach up to Hobie Beach, just south of the Coast Guard station. The rocks were installed to prevent erosion by the currents. Some say the currents have become stronger since the harbor was expanded in the early 2000’s to include the Westport and Seabridge developments. We have no technical info on this.

It was also pointed out that Kiddie Beach houses the only public restroom on the south side of the lower harbor, so access would be highly useful in times of need.

Wind surfers also use the harbor for training, as it is logistically much friendlier and safer for beginners than ocean launches and operation.

The possibility of converting the rocky area between Kiddie and Hobie beaches into a sandy  beach was also raised. That area and Hobie Beach are also used as an equipment staging area for the biennial harbor entrance dredging.

Multiple people pointed out that Ventura has a beach area allocated for watercraft/mixed use and a swimmers-only section which works fine.

Paddlers use the local waters year-round except for very inclement weather, while swimmers/sunbathers mainly use the beach on sunny summer/weekend days.

Eleven people showed up in an outrigger canoe, a kayak and paddleboards, challenging the ban, and went unchallenged on this day.

Clockwise from top: Bob Tongen of CKF, local civic activist Connie Korenstein, Diana Casey and Nancy of “Ahoy” store at Fisherman’s Wharf. Photo: George Miller/


Harbor Director, Harbormaster did not show

We were told that Harbor District Director Lyn Krieger and Harbormaster Gary Hirtensteiner would attend, but they did not show up and no reason was given. Supervisor Zaragoza brought his assistant, Lourdes Solorzano, who has been handling communications and support on this issue.

Zaragoza handled the meeting very amiably, in his usual low key fashion. Anyone who wanted to speak could speak and was heard. But a couple of participants confided to me that he acted like he was hearing most of this this for the first time, which they assured me he was not. Also no objectives, commitments, timeline and assignments were set, which would tend to make the meeting inconclusive. Tongen pointed out to me that Zaragoza seemed unaware of the problems with the experimental kayak launch at the guest dock (see photo below). It was good holding the meeting on-site, as the logistics and constraints were more evident. It was also evident that the participants very greatly outnumbered the few beach users on that late Tuesday morning on a sunny summer day.

Supv. Zaragoza seemed unaware that the experimental kayak ramp, shown with 18′ sea kayak, was installed nearly a mile up-harbor, is difficult to access and of questionable utility, especially for senior or disabled users. Photo: George Miller/


 Robert Tongen materials
On Tuesday, June 27, 2017 7:58 PM, Robert Tongen wrote to Lourdes Solorzano:
It was good to see both you and Supervisor Zaragosa at Kiddie Beach in Oxnard Harbor this morning.  Hopefully something can come of this meeting.  We were disappointed that there was no resolution, promises, or time frame. It was great for the Supervisor to recognize that what we were looking for was a “door” through Kiddie Beach to allow paddlers of all capabilities to access the harbor and ocean.
Supt. Zaragoza seemed surprised and enlightened to learn that the highly advertised new Easy Kayak Launch was more than a mile further from the ocean, than Kiddie Beach, and was not useable by all kayakers (ed. note: see photo, above).
We were disappointed to not see the Harbor Director or Harbor Master at the meeting, learning of issues at their harbor.
Ben Tai Tai did a good job of keeping the focus of the meeting on gaining a “Door” to the ocean at Kiddie Beach.  He simply asked for a roped off area, paralleling the seawall, on the north end of Kiddie Beach.  This solution would be of minimal cost and simple to implement.  (The ordinance states that the restrictions can be changed by a permit from the Harbor Director.)
It appeared that this was a new issue to Supervisor Zaragoza.  We met with you and the Supervisor on March 8, in his office after introducing this issue to the California Coastal Commission at the court house in open forum.  We then supplied you with the attached presentation that we made to the Harbor Director and Harbor Master on October 13, 2016.  This presentation was made to request action after the lifeguards started denying us access to Kiddie Beach in August 2016 and signs posted on Kiddie beach in late September 2016.  The presentation is attached for your ready reference.
During our meeting today it should be noted there were several SUPs and kayaks using Kiddie Beach.  We have been respecting the signage and ordinance mentioned, but it seems to be intermittently enforced.
Thank you and Supervisor Zaragoza for taking the time to come to another meeting.  Hopefully this meeting will result in action and provide a “Door” to the harbor and ocean.  We look forward to hearing positive results.
Robert Tongen
California Kayak Friends Club member and long time Channel Islands Harbor (user)
Previous CKF presentation to Coastal Commission 10-13-16 and Supv. Zaragoza 3-8-17: Paddling Oxnard Harbor.r1
Meeting announcement:

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. He has been a sea kayaker for 25 years.

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Dotty Pringle
Dotty Pringle
3 years ago

How does a Harbor Director, Lyn Krieger and District 5 Supervisor Zaragosa justify their jobs by denying access to the public? Their job is to MAINTAIN ACCESS to The Public Land For Public Use. They are being paid to manage a public small craft harbor with 9 marinas.
They have also abused our Commercial Fishing Industry.

Yes, a lawsuit to County backing the ADA laws thru the Dept. of Justice may just open an avenue that we all need.

i would describe these actions from these employees as being Public Nuisances!

3 years ago

Perhaps suing the Harbor District and the City for ADA violations of lack of access might light a fire under their ass.