The latest skirmish in the battle to determine the future of Oxnard’s Fisherman’s Wharf unfolded Tuesday night at a special Channel Islands Beach Community Services District (CIBCSD) meeting.

Over 100 people, mostly opponents of plans for a new apartment complex facing Victoria Avenue and Channel Islands Boulevard at the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, packed into the Hollywood Beach School Auditorium to hear presentations for and against the plan.

Darrel Malamut of Channel Islands Harbor Properties, LLC, and Diane Delaney of the Harbor Beach Alliance made cases for and against the project, respectively, to the Hollywood Beach and Silver Strand residents. Both used projected slides to underscore their main points.

Speaking first, Delaney outlined opponents’ concerns about the changes the residential part of the project — 390- to 400-unit complex — would bring to Oxnard’s beachside neighborhoods.

The two-block-long gated complex — already scaled back from 800 to 600 planned units in response to community feedback – would not only block access to a neighborhood park, but would also fill the space currently used for RV and public parking, said Delaney.

“How many of us have circled the parking lot of the Seabridge Marina looking for a parking space?” Delaney asked the audience, raising the specter of a similar lack of parking space for Hollywood Beach.

Delaney said the loss of parking space would also threaten the neighborhood’s theater, stores and restaurants.

“It will certainly cause businesses to fail, because as we’ve seen, if there’s no parking, people will go elsewhere,” Delaney explained after finishing her presentation.

Malamut emphasized the revitalization of Fisherman’s Wharf in his presentation, describing its past look, current malaise and detailing the planned upgrade.

“The retail game has really change ,” Malamut said. “We’d like to look at it from a leasing point of view; bring in new retailers.”

The project would turn the site into a true wharf with a rebuilt lighthouse and other renovations to existing buildings, turning some vacant standalones into restaurants and adding a wine tasting room, Malamut said.

A widened boardwalk — “A beautiful boardwalk you’ll be able to be proud of,” Malamut said — would run from the lighthouse to a new park, replacing the one Delaney cited.

But Malamut didn’t gloss over concerns about the apartment complex, casting it as the engine driving the whole project while noting “there seems to be a bias” against it from the community.

“This is what brings in the revenue and allows everything else to happen,” Malamut said, describing a complex of affordable apartments that would support professionals such as police and firefighters as well recent college graduates.

The complex would anchor a project bringing about $600,000 per year of new revenue to Oxnard, Malamut concluded.

Revitalizing Fisherman’s Wharf has long been a goal of Oxnard’s city and county officials. The project has been approved by Ventura County’s Board of Supervisors and awaits approval from the California Coastal Commission.

Although the plan hasn’t been presented to Oxnard’s City Council, it nonetheless has support from the Chamber of Commerce, said Nancy Lindholm, the chamber’s president and CEO.

“We’ve been watching this project for one-and-a-half years,” said Lindholm, starting off public response to the presentations. “Rooftops drive retail, the last thing we want to have is retail only, which has been tried and failed.”

But Silver Strand resident Bill Higgins, who followed Lindholm, dismissed her endorsement as one from someone who “has never seen a development they didn’t like,” adding the community wants a harbor-related as opposed to simply mixed-use project.

“We’re talking about our neighborhood,” Higgins continued, sneering, “They’re going to give us a park that already exists,” and contending the complex would exclude the first responders Malamut described, who wouldn’t be able to afford to live there.

“We are drawing the line here,” Higgins declared, “and we’re going to follow the developer all the way to the Coastal Commission if we have to.”

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