A long dispute over development on a stretch of beach in Oxnard appears to have been resolved with a settlement that allows for construction of ocean-front homes and possibly a commercial pier.
As a result, the president of the Oxnard Shores Oceanfront Lot Owners Assn. said the group that has fought to build homes on the strand will drop its $40-million suit against the city, the California Coastal Commission and Concerned Citizens to Save Oxnard Shores.
The groups had opposed construction there, claiming that it would block their access to the beach, damage the environment and pose safety hazards for residents.
Al Zingg, the president of the lot owners' group, expressed optimism that the settlement would be approved by the approximately 80 people who, individually or jointly, own lots he valued at a total of $28 million.
"Seven years is a long time for a legal battle," he said. "I'll be glad when this is all over."
Under the settlement, which was filed Dec. 21 in Ventura County Superior Court, undeveloped lots on Oxnard Shores will shrink both in size and in number--from 95 lots to 73 lots--to provide for 1,438 feet of public beach on land that previously was privately owned.
The primary property owner, Oxnard Shores Development Co., would give up 22 lots in exchange for the right to exceed local zoning requirements by building 15 units on three of their lots.
The settlement also provides for a study of the feasibility of building a public pier at the end of Fifth Street. In exchange for commercial leases on the pier, Oxnard Shores property owners would relinquish their rights to three lots.
If approved by the City of Oxnard, the California Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission, the settlement would lay to rest a conflict that began 16 years ago.
The oceanfront property on Oxnard's western edge was first subdivided and sold by the McGrath family in 1930. The Oxnard Shores Development Co. bought and re-subdivided the property between 1959 and 1969. By 1971, 27 homes had been built along Oxnard Shores.
But a storm that year destroyed some of the houses and severly eroded the beach in front of undeveloped lands. Out of concern for the safety of residents, the city called for a moratorium on building, said William Coopman, chairman of Concerned Citizens to Save Oxnard Shores.
Then Proposition 20, a precursor to the Coastal Act of 1976, took effect, prohibiting construction within 1,000 yards of the mean high-tide mark. Oxnard's Local Coastal Plan later provided for beachfront construction, but a suit by SOS blocked construction there, Coopman said.
The California Coastal Commission has not granted building permits at Oxnard Shores since 1974, City Atty. K. Duane Lyders said.
Additional litigation was filed in 1981 by the property owners, and they have opposed previous settlement attempts.