I hope you can enjoy the holidays and the remainder of 2017. Savor the peace and quiet while you can, because 2018 promises to be a very noisy year.
We will start off the year with what likely will be a special election for Oxnard voters to decide if they want to recall the mayor and three councilmembers. Assuming the Ventura County Elections Division deems enough valid signatures were collected to trigger a special election, there will be four incumbents running campaigns to keep their jobs. There will also be a number of hopeful candidates vying to replace them. I have visions of the beautiful city of Oxnard being covered with campaign signs!
Almost simultaneously there will be campaigns leading up to the June primary election. (State legislation was passed in 2017 to move the primary election to March, but that doesn’t take effect until 2019.) More campaign signs! Fortunately, Oxnard will not be dealing with a supervisorial election in 2018, but the east portion of the County certainly will.
We can look forward to our summer and fall being filled with campaign rhetoric, promises, mud-slinging, and – yes – signs!
When Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, was in Oxnard on December 1, he had some interesting observations about the state and federal elections in 2018. Since Jerry Brown is termed out, there will be a lot of interest in the governor’s race. But where that interest comes from could impact federal House and Senate races.
Since California adopted the top-two primary, our ballots have contained many more names of Democrats. It’s no surprise since California is a blue state. Mr. Zaremberg explained that if there are multiple Republicans in the governor’s race going into the primary, it is likely that they will split the party vote and two Democrats will be on the November ballot. If that is the case, Republicans could lose interest in the November, which would affect the Congressional races, ultimately providing gains to the Democrats. Interesting…
November 2018 seems so far in the future right now, but there will be non-stop activity leading up to it. I can almost hear the sigh of relief when November 6 passes and the world becomes quite again.
We can count on a very busy and very noisy political season in 2018 with lots of those dreaded campaign signs!!!!
On November 9 the Oxnard Chamber convened policy experts to have a frank discussion about the healthcare system in our state and our country. Featured at the Oxnard Business Outlook were Loren Kaye, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education; Darren Lee, President and CEO of St. John’s Hospitals; Kelly Bruno, President and CEO of than National Health Foundation; Dale Villani, Chief Executive Officer of Gold Coast Health Plan; and Dr. Adam Cavallero of UCLA Health.
While there was a lot of discussion about different healthcare delivery systems and preventative care programs, there is no magic answer to how we tear up the existing model nor what to replace it with.
As you may recall there is a piece of legislation (SB 562 The Healthy California Act) active in Sacramento that would provide healthcare for all. The price for this model is estimated to be more than $400 billion (Yes, with a “B”). For perspective, the State budget for all expenditures—not just health care, but also K-12 and higher education, social services, transportation, corrections and every other expense category—totals less than half of that amount. The bill was held in committee in 2017 because it did not contain a funding mechanism.
I like to look at what other states and countries are doing that provide a better return on the healthcare dollars invested. I recently ran across an article in Fox&Hounds Daily with some very interesting data I wanted to share:
The Oxnard Chamber drafted an Immigration Reform position in 2007. We sent it to then Congresswoman Lois Capps every time the topic came up in Washington, DC. Unfortunately the issue was placed on hold numerous times because other, more pressing matters surfaced. In addition, the topic was never broached during election years, which is every other year for Congress.
Obviously a lot has changed in our political climate recently, so the Chamber's Business Advocacy Committee dusted off the 10-year old policy to update it. We sought and received input from agriculture, hospitality, and construction industry experts. We also weighed the impact on our economy and families with legal status issues.
The revised Immigration Reform position for 2017 was adopted by the Chamber's Board of Directors on September 28. It contains four components:
Click here to read the complete, but brief, policy.
We certainly hope our elected officials will consider all the impacts revising policy and enforcement efforts may have.
I have always been a live and let live kind of person. I don't like conflicts. I prefer harmony over anarchy. Unfortunately controversy crosses my path more often than I like. Occupational hazard, I guess.
I have no idea what triggered a recent dispute between the County of Ventura and the City of Oxnard regarding Channel Islands Harbor. However, it's apparent that a lot of beneficial economic development projects are caught in the crossfire.
When I have friends or family from out of town visit me, my favorite thing to do is take them on an electric boat tour of Channel Islands Harbor. For too many years my guests have asked why there is a large shuttered hotel in such a beautiful location. I used to answer, "It's the economy." But that doesn't hold water any more. Now that we are on the verge of the groundbreaking for a new visitor-serving hotel, a tiff between the city and the county looks like it could derail the revitalization of the peninsula in the harbor.
Fisherman's Wharf is certainly another example of the dispute between the two local governments. Here you have a site that was designated on the city's 2030 General Plan as an "Urban Village," which means residential use plus local services for the residents. When that plan was presented, the county embraced it, but the city has done everything possible to derail the project.
The squabble seems to stem from who gets to approve which projects. Historically, the County has granted approvals based on its approved public works plan. Oxnard doesn't seem to like that process any longer and wants to give projects its blessing or denial.
I don't know who should be the approving entity. I just know that a very good proposal to revive Fisherman's Wharf is caught up in the dispute. I am also hearing rumblings that the rebuild of the old Casa Sirena Marina Hotel may be facing permit challenges from the city.
It's time to lock city and the county officials in a room with a professional mediator and come to a resolution.
If you have visited Channel Islands Harbor in the last five or ten years, you likely noticed the state of disrepair Fisherman's Wharf is in. It's quite sad to see the corner that was once a bustling destination for visitors and locals alike look as if it wants to fall into the sea.
Channel Islands Harbor spent many years as the poor stepchild in Ventura County. It was one of the best assets, but ignored by many politicians and policy makers. It has taken a lot of investment on the part of private industry to pump life into it, and Harbor management has been challenged to attract viable developers to venture into projects on leased land that requires percentage rents to be paid to the County.
After a few failed attempts by various parties to redevelop Fisherman's Wharf, the perfect scenario seems to have presented itself. The trio of Thomas R. Tellefsen, Peter Mullin and Geoff Palmer are proposing a rebuild of the project that adds many public amenities and retains the flavor of the original nautical theme.
Thomas Tellefsen is the principal of Tellefsen Investments, a private asset and investment management firm in Pacific Palisades. Peter Mullin, amongst many interests, is the owner of the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard where a portion of his collection of French Art Deco era cars is on display. Geoff Palmer of G.H. Palmer Associates has been in the business of building luxury apartment units for many years.
Specifically, the proposal to revitalize Fisherman's Wharf includes refurbishing the landmark lighthouse, restoring or rebuilding many of the existing buildings, redesigning the waterfront to include a wide promenade and outdoor dining options, increasing the retail space by about 9,000 square feet, creating a public park, and providing approximately 390 luxury residential units. (Some of the previous proposals included up to 800 apartments.)
The Oxnard Chamber has studied the redevelopment proposal for Fisherman's Wharf and thoroughly supports it. The County Board of Supervisors has given the project a green light.
It's important to note that the County of Ventura owns Channel Islands Harbor and the land immediately adjacent to it up to the Channel Island Boulevard Bridge, where the City of Oxnard takes over.
Unfortunately the project has hit a couple of bumps in the road. The city of Oxnard recently amended its 2030 General Plan to require "urban villages" have specific plans (a very costly regulation!). And there seems to be some squabbling over who has the permitting authority for the site. Historically the County has had that role.
In addition to that hiccup, there is a small group of very vocal Oxnard residents that believe incorporating apartments in the project constitutes the "taking" of public property. Hello! The entire peninsula in the harbor is apartments. The project does not pencil out if the apartments are not a component. In addition, the old adage of "rooftops drive retail" is a big factor in sustaining the restaurants and retail not only at Fisherman's Wharf, but throughout Channel Islands Harbor.
Last year when the project was in front of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors for approval and many opponents spoke against it, Supervisor Steve Bennett noted other proposals had come forward in recent years, this was a quality project, and if this one doesn't move forward the site will likely continue to decay and deteriorate.
The Oxnard Chamber will continue to strongly support the proposal to bring new life to what should be a beautiful part of our community. Your support is welcome, too!