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County to Take Up Boating Center

Officials today will discuss plans for the proposed Channel Islands Harbor facility.

June 15, 2004|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

Ventura County supervisors today are expected to discuss whether they should continue efforts to bring a boating instruction center to Channel Islands Harbor, a week after the project was dealt another setback.

County lawyers will brief supervisors behind closed doors on the legal ramifications of a finding by the California Coastal Commission last week that the county board acted improperly in approving the boating center last December.

The coastal panel's 2-1 vote on Wednesday reaffirmed its earlier conclusion that Ventura County supervisors must first amend the harbor's general works plan before it can proceed with the boating center at the marina near Oxnard.

Ventura County's proposal to build a 19,000-square-foot facility offering sailing lessons and marine education to area students is inconsistent with its current harbor plan, Coastal Commissioner Pedro Nava said.

Nearly two decades old, the plan should be updated before the boating center is considered by the Coastal Commission, Nava said. He stressed that the commission has not taken sides on the merits of the project.

"The commission believes that the appropriate way to consider this project is through an amendment," he said.

Opponents of the project, who say its proposed location close to residential streets is inappropriate, had previously asked supervisors to update the general works plan.

Supervisors will probably weigh several options in considering what to do next, said County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston. Possible alternatives include proceeding with a harbor plan update, challenging the Coastal Commission's decision in court or dropping the project.

Johnston said it was unlikely that supervisors would opt to change the location of the center to appease opponents. An alternate site preferred by critics has been deemed too windy for novice sailors, he said.

Supervisors also may consider the likelihood of getting the project approved given the intense and organized opposition of nearby residents, Johnston said.

"If it looks like we can only lose and we can't win, we don't want to spend a lot of time on the general works plan," he said.

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