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!