YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Ventura County

State Seeks Portion of Ormond Beach

Environment: Coastal Conservancy has appraised the 309 acres and intends to meet with Oxnard leaders. City considers a master plan.


Members of a state conservation agency plan to meet this month with Oxnard officials to pursue the purchase of 309 acres at Ormond Beach as part of a statewide push to preserve coastal habitat.

Peter Brand, point man in Ventura County for the Coastal Conservancy, said his agency has completed an appraisal of the property--jointly owned by the city and the Metropolitan Water District--and is ready to begin negotiating for some or all of the acreage on the south Oxnard shoreline.

The conservancy can't make a formal offer until the Legislature approves its budget for next fiscal year, which will be July 1 at the earliest. But Brand said he hopes to forge a deal before then, adding that the conservancy might be willing to make a down payment on the property with an option to buy.

"We've written [city officials], assuring them of our continued strong interest in the acquisition," Brand said Monday. "We've established a fair market value for the property, and we hope in a few weeks to sit down and discuss that value with the city.

"We think they'll see it as a fair price," he added.

The Oxnard City Council is set today to discuss the future of Ormond Beach, the county's largest remaining tract of undeveloped coastline and the focus of competing interests.

Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the fertile Oxnard Plain, the 1,404-acre stretch of wind-swept beachfront is home to some of the county's heaviest industry and some of its most fragile wetlands.

Although city leaders have called for a master plan for the entire area, much of today's discussion is expected to focus on the 309 acres co-owned by the city and water district.

Several businesses have expressed interest in building on that property, including a pitch by Houston-based Sysco Corp., North America's largest food-service marketer and distributor, to establish a regional headquarters.

At the same time, the Coastal Conservancy has said it wants to buy all the acreage the city is willing to sell. The conservancy hopes to shield as much of the shoreline property as possible from development.

The City Council will consider directing staff members to draft a wetlands restoration and management plan for the property and to review the possibility of creating an assessment district to help pay for restoration.

The council also will consider asking the water district what interest it has, if any, in selling all or a portion of the 309 acres to the Coastal Conservancy.

Steve Kinney, president of the Greater Oxnard Economic Development Corp., said he believes the council is dedicated to protecting the wetlands and other sensitive habitat.

But he said it's also important to provide economic development opportunities at Ormond Beach because it is one of the few prime sites left in the city.

"There's room enough to satisfy these different interests," he said.

In the meantime, Brand said the conservancy is talking to other property owners in the area about purchasing an additional 400 acres as part of its wetlands restoration project at Ormond Beach.

"It isn't a choice between wetlands and development--clearly there's a lot of room for both," Brand said.

Los Angeles Times Articles