Important Update on the Harbor: What Has Been Achieved (9/21)
HBCA discovered that the Harbor Department was operating without a standard development process though both the County and the City of Oxnard each had one.
A standard development process is essential to avoid inconsistencies, unfairness, lack of transparency, and at worst abuse.
Without a standard process, qualified developers may be discouraged from making proposals and harbor revitalization may be delayed by years-long disputes as the Fisherman’s Wharf massive apartment project did.
HBCA also communicated to the Board of Supervisors that the Harbor Department had never issued a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) nor provided for public input prior to awarding exclusivity to a developer and their proposed project.
HBCA also submitted a fact-based request for a performance audit of the Harbor Department by the County’s Internal Audit Department.
Through HBCA’s efforts, the following are now in place at the Harbor:
- There is now an established and published standard development process for harbor development that includes a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
- In August this year, the Harbor Department issued its first competitive RFP open to all developers. This RFP was issued for the Whale’s Tail parcel. A second RFP was issued in September for N-1 Anacapa Boatyard and Marine Services parcel.
- The Harbor Department established a Harbor Advisory Committee to participate in the review of development proposals. HBCA has a representative on the Committee.
- There will be public workshops and hearings prior to awarding exclusivity for a developer’s proposed project.
This ensures wide public participation and input prior to a Board hearing for exclusivity approval.
There is already a Vision Plan for six parcels at the Harbor with the public’s development priorities identified. Development proposals meeting these priorities will have greater consideration over proposals with alternative concepts that do not reflect the Vision Plan.
However, an updated Harbor Public Works Plan (PWP) is still needed if “piecemeal planning” is to be avoided. A master plan for the ENTIRE harbor, including the water areas, is vital to ensure fluctuating economic pressures do not drive short-sighted development decisions that may be regretted later.
The “permanency” of most harbor development makes it almost impossible to rectify these decisions so it is important the Harbor’s PWP be updated.
- The County’s Internal Audit Department is conducting an audit of the harbor’s development process. We will update you when this audit is done. An audit of the marina boat slips will be conducted next year. Based upon the results of these audits, HBCA will determine any necessary next steps.
- HBCA submitted to the County CEO and Board of Supervisors, the frequent questions and comments of various harbor organizations and community members regarding the County’s Search for a new Harbor Director. (those comments are included on this page)
Comments sent by HBCA August 9, 2021
Mike Powers and County Board of Supervisors:
Hi! Just wanted to pass on to you some of the frequent questions and comments we received from various harbor organizations and community members regarding the County’s search for a new Harbor Director. There is a lot of interest in understanding the type of candidate the County is seeking for Harbor Director. Here are the most common questions and comments we received:
- We need a Harbor Director that is as passionate about the harbor as we (the community) are.
- Maybe this is a good time to establish a Harbor Commission that will bring a wide range of experience and expertise to the harbor.
- Ideal candidate should be familiar with this harbor and its market strengths.
- Job description should put more emphasis on development experience and leasing strategies supporting visitor-serving and water recreational facilities.
- Who are on the selection committee and interviewing the candidates?
- Candidate should have strong planning and innovation skills. Long-term planning capabilities are essential for updating the Public Works Plan. This has been lacking for decades at the harbor.
- If the harbor is to be categorized as an “enterprise”, it is significantly important for the candidate to have skill sets to entice business and development to the harbor.
- Candidate must be able to maintain a viable network of collaborative relationships with the City of Oxnard, the local businesses and the community to meet the mission goals of the harbor in keeping with the visitor serving and boating needs of the community.
- Candidate should have a proven track record of attracting, incentivizing, and working with local and other commercial businesses to establish and maintain visitor-driving businesses at the harbor.
- Candidate should have experience in obtaining grants for public amenities and improvement of parks and recreational facilities.
- Environmental justice is important at all public coastal recreational resources. The candidate should be a proponent of environmental justice including maximum public access and public amenities.
We hope these comments help identify the best person for Harbor Director. The above themes were comments repeatedly given by several harbor organizations and many community members.
We hope the County will be patient in its search to find the right person to lead this harbor to fulfill its potential as one of, if not the best of 12 small boat harbors along the California coast. The harbor is a rare and irreplaceable asset of the County and its residents.
Rene Aiu on behalf of the Harbor & Beach Community Alliance