Surfers Point Update
On Tuesday, October 24, the Fair Board unanimously endorsed the Surfers Point restoration project. Thanks to all who have supported the project, especially City of Ventura representatives who worked to educate the Fairgrounds board and staff about the intentions of the project.
This is a major milestone that allows the project to now move full speed ahead. There were several project conditions that were approved by the Board in association with their project approval, that the City is currently evaluating. Much of this will be discussed and included in a follow-up Memorandum of Understanding between the Fair Board and the City.
The next step is for the Coastal Commission to grant a permit for the project. This CC hearing date is now set for Thursday, November 16th, at the Hyatt Regency in Huntington Beach (21500 Pacific Coast Highway). The CC agenda is posted on their website, http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html
Surfers Point bike path to be relocated
Shore will be rebuilt with cobble and sand instead of a sand wall
By Kevin Clerici, kclerici@...
October 25, 2006
The Ventura County Fair Board on Tuesday overwhelmingly embraced a landmark project to relocate a crumbling bike path from Ventura's coastline and rebuild the shore with cobble and sand.
The board's unanimous decision gives new momentum to a decade-long effort by outdoor enthusiasts, coastal watchdogs and city leaders to relocate the eroding path and re-create a natural habitat rather than erect a sand wall.
The project, estimated at $4 million, now goes to the California Coastal Commission, which is expected to consider and approve a coastal construction permit as early as next month. A coastal permit is needed to move the damaged bike and pedestrian trail on the seaward side of Shoreline Drive about 65 feet inland.
The board's approval of the concept Tuesday and pledge to work with city leaders to iron out specifics of a maintenance and use contract received raucous applause and a round of glad-handing and congratulatory hugs.
"This property is of great value to many people," Board Chairman Craig Underwood told a gathering of about 20 people at the Derby Club. "I'm hopeful we are making the best decision for the community and for the fair board."
The celebratory mood was a far cry from a month ago, when proponents tired of waiting for action lashed out at fair board members when it became clear the group intended to postpone a decision until its October meeting.
At the time, some feared the board's inaction put the project in jeopardy.
Fairgrounds CEO Barbara Boester-Quaid defended the continuance Tuesday, saying the time was used to pore over the project's complicated arrangement, its impact on the annual fair and ensure each board member was up to speed.
To temper fair officials' concerns over having adequate space at the 62-acre fairgrounds, the city agreed to pursue increased access to a nearby Caltrans storage yard during fair time. The city also is looking at expanding an entrance on Garden Street.
"We are very protective of our event," Boester-Quaid told the audience, regarding the annual 12-day fair that is the fairground's greatest source of income.
After the vote, newly appointed board member Michael Bradbury was quick to thank city staffers and proponents for their patience and hard work. He said the vote signaled a fresh start.
"I look forward to going into the future as partners," Bradbury said.
A decade in the making, the effort to relocate the crumbling path and nourish the beach has gained positive attention from coastal engineers, state leaders, environmentalists and beachgoers because it would offer greater beach space and public access rather than encroach on the valuable shoreline.
It also would replace the existing trail, which continues to disintegrate and has been an eyesore on the widely used Ventura waterfront.
"This is a model approach," said Joe Geever, Southern California regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation. "Too often, governmental agencies respond with a Band-Aid approach" that doesn't have the same long-lasting coastal rehabilitation benefits, he said.
Once the bike path and an adjacent parking lot are relocated inland, 25,000 to 30,000 tons of cobblestones would be spread at the water's edge, nourishing the rocky shoreline. Sand would be laid over the cobble.
Proponents say the enhanced beach area would become a natural depository for sand migrating from the Ventura River when the Matilija Dam north of Ojai is removed.
Last month, the city applied for $1.7 million in federal and state grants to go with about $2 million in hand.
The project's innovative nature could help attract other sources of money or help leverage existing funds, said Kara Kemmler, a project manager for the California State Coastal Conservancy.
Lawrence Manson of Ventura told the board it was making the right move. He was excited about the vision of a beautified beach he could visit with his grandchildren. The plan calls for benches and a restroom.
Added Ventura resident Andy Prokopaw: "If you approve this project, you will have the eternal gratitude of tens of thousands of users of the bike path, like me."
Surfrider Foundation Ventura County Chapter
Coordinator, Matilija Coalition
(805) 648-4005 pjenkin@...