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West Ventura County Focus

OXNARD : County Blocks Plan to Annex Waterway

October 05, 1994|MIGUEL BUSTILLO

Oxnard's plan to annex the water area of Channel Islands Harbor has been blocked indefinitely by lawyers for Ventura County, who took advantage of a tax technicality to prevent a state board from reviewing the proposal.

Attorneys for the Local Agency Formation Commission, which presides over jurisdictional disputes, have agreed with County Counsel James L. McBride's argument that Oxnard's plan is illegal, LAFCO Executive Director Stanley Eisner said.

McBride argued that the LAFCO board, which was set to review the plan this month, could not until Oxnard and the county negotiate an agreement to transfer property taxes in the area.

A 1983 agreement between Oxnard and the county discusses the division of property taxes in annexations but it excludes the harbor, McBride said.

The county would have to agree to a tax transfer deal at the waterway and such negotiations could take years, McBride said.

Oxnard City Atty. Gary Gillig said he had not been notified of LAFCO's decision and said he will contest the county's and LAFCO's conclusion.

"I am grateful for the information," Gillig said. "But frankly, I disagree."

Opened in 1965, Channel Islands Harbor covers more than 300 acres of land and water.

The county leases most of the surrounding land to developers, who have built restaurants, condominiums and about 3,600 boat slips.

Leases and taxes at the marina generate about $2 million for the county each year. But the waterway tussle between Oxnard and the county involves less than $200,000 in annual property tax.

Oxnard leaders say the Y-shaped waterway should be in their jurisdiction because it has benefited for years from city fire and police services, and is reachable only by city roads. The Oxnard City Council voted last month to annex the waterway.

But county leaders say the small-craft marina, which cost $1 million to dig and $7 million to renovate, should remain in their jurisdiction.

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