Vol. V, No. 14                                                                                                    September 2019


Days of Sail

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San Salvador, a replica of Cabrillo's ship paid a visit to Channel Islands Harbor.

Still many events left in the year at Channel Islands:


Port Eyes City Property


Will Market St. become the latest parking lot for the Oxnard Harbor District?

One of the speakers at a recent Oxnard Harbor District (OHD) meeting expressed support for the District and the City of Port Hueneme “coming together” regarding the long vacant property at Market St.


In the years after World War II, Port Hueneme transferred property to OHD for port expansion. Much of the existing Harbor District sits on what used to be the City’s historic downtown. Expanding the Port to Market St. would complete the takeover.


The existing Market St. Landing is a remnant of a failed 40 year old redevelopment effort that demolished much of the remaining downtown. Although there have been numerous development proposals over the years, none has come to fruition.

The area had been owned by the City's Redevelopment Agency. When the State of California abolished Redevelopment, it established a complex system for disposing of property that required all property tax collecting agencies, such as school districts and county government to receive a share of any proceeds resulting from sale of the property.


The City Council recently has had closed session items referencing real estate negotiations, presumably referring to the Market St. property. Mayor Will Berg stated, "The City Council is evaluating the best way to proceed with one of its former Redevelopment Agency-owned properties: the Market Street Landing.  The Port of Hueneme has expressed a strong interest in the property, and while the City has entered into a dialogue with the Port about a potential purchase, there have been no commitments made at this point, and there is not an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Port."

Mayor Berg added, "The Council understands the strategic value of this property and wants to make sure that the City and the other local government entities that will benefit from its sale receive a fair market price, whoever the buyer may be."  

Kristin Decas, Chief Executive Officer of OHD said, "The discussions continue around Port acquisition for sustainable port growth and increased revenue sharing for the City."

City councils have long expressed a desire to capitalize on the City’s beachfront location to develop a tourism/visitor serving industry. Conveying Market St. Landing to the Oxnard Harbor District would mark a sharp change away from that policy toward emphasizing Port Hueneme as an industrial port city.

The City Council will receive a briefing on former Redevelopment properties in closed session at its October 7th meeting in preparation for a presentation to the County Consolidated Oversight Board on October 23 at 9:30 AM in the County Supervisors Hearing Room, 800 S. Victoria Avenue.




A New Level of Co-operation

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Brian Brennan speaks with the Regional Defense Partnership for the 21st Century.


Brian Brennan, the Executive Director of the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment (BEACON), presented the familiar story of erosion on Hueneme Beach to the Regional Defense Partnership for the 21st Century (RDP-21).

The Navy-owned jetties at the Port of Hueneme interrupt the normal flow of sand and cause the loss of nearly 100,000 cubic yards of sand per month. Channel Islands Harbor was built in 1960 to restore the badly eroded beach and provide a source of sand for the regular dredging cycle. The sand trap at Channel Islands is designed to hold 3.3 million cubic yards of sand. Every two years, the Army Corps of Engineers manages the operation that moves sand from the sand trap to Hueneme Beach.


Historical highs and lows.


Although the engineering specification requires that 2.4 million cubic yards be pumped every two years, the actual amount depends on the funding approved by Congress. Typically, Congress comes up short, and therein lies a problem.

In the early part of the decade, due to Congressional dysfunction, there were several dredging cycles that came up significantly short, resulting in a severe erosion situation. The “hole in the sand” moved its way downcoast and, while the situation at Hueneme Beach has been stabilized, Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) is facing a critical situation.


Aerial photographs show the shoreline alarmingly close to the the approach end of runway 3.  When Capt. Jeff Chism took over as Commanding Officer of NBVC he immediately noticed the change in the shoreline from his earlier tour at Mugu in the early 2000’s. Echoing the theme of the program he exclaimed, “Where’s my beach?


Councilmember and BEACON Boardmember Steven Gama discusses erosion with Brian Brennan.

Although the regular dredging is Federally funded, the “lead agency” is the County of Ventura, Channel Islands Harbor. The BEACON presentation to RDP-21 marks a new level of co-operation across the different groups. BEACON and RDP-21 have pledged to work together with all interested parties in an effort to build a strong coalition that can help move the process in Congress.

Additional meetings are being scheduled.


At City Hall

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"Not Meant to be Campgrounds"

At the September 3rd City Council meeting, Police Chief Andrew Salinas gave a presentation on the homeless situation on Ormond Beach in Oxnard.

Chief Salinas recounted that in 2018 when the number of campers on the beach was still relatively small, he approached the City of Oxnard but “They didn’t want to address it.” Apparently Oxnard claimed they didn’t have the money and were fearful that they would only be moving the problem to other areas.

During the following year the number of homeless on the beach increased radically.  The County of Ventura over the course of three months sent out teams of social service workers in an attempt to provide services, but, according to the Chief, “People didn’t want assistance. We are seeing people who are service resistant. They’re not looking for a home,” he said.

The recent attack by a deranged man on a small dog named Sophie brought attention on the national level to the situation. Chief Salinas referred to Sophie as “The dog that saved Port Hueneme.”  The incident put “a lot of pressure” on Oxnard, he said. A joint clean-up operation with the two cities led to the eviction of the dune dwellers. “All the encampments and the trash have been cleaned up,” the Chief said. “Things are relatively back to normal.”

Chief Salinas recommended several actions that would aid in controlling the situation: 1.) New fencing around sensitive areas; 2.) Additional signage stating the laws regarding camping, fires, etc.; 3.) New ordinances prohibiting bicycles on the beach, altering the dunes, and sleeping from 8 PM to 6 AM.; and 4.) Zero tolerance for illegal dumping.

A new Public Works position will be focused on shopping cart retrieval. Illegally possessing a shopping cart is a violation of the Business and Professional Code. “The shopping cart does not belong to them,” the Chief said. He asked residents to call the Police to report suspicious persons and shopping cart theft. “We want our residents to keep calling,” he said. Repeated complaints are essential to building a legal case against violators.

Councilmember Rich Rollins added, “Parks and beaches are not meant to be campgrounds.”


RV Park "Rumor"

An opinion piece by Councilmember Steven Gama that appeared in the local Camarillo-based daily newspaper caused a stir at the most recent City Council meeting.  

Mr. Gama proposed resurrecting a project from the mid-nineties to construct a recreational vehicle park at the east end of Hueneme Beach. The original proposal generated a great deal of opposition and was eventually abandoned when a new city council was elected.

Mayor Will Berg reminded the gallery that the RV park proposal was “just a rumor”. Nonetheless, several people rose to oppose the idea.

“I hope the RV park remains a rumor and not a reality,” said Sonia Garner Briggs of Surfside III.

Former City Public Works Director and present Vice President of the Calleguas Municipal Water District Board, Andy Santamaria cautioned, “When a Councilmember speaks people listen.” He pointed out that most Surfside III residents were opposed to the idea, and expressed dismay that his homeowners’ association had not been notified. “If there are proposals we would like to have input,” he said.

Tom King, representing Save the Port Hueneme Coast concluded, “City Councils come and go but sometimes issues such as the RV park reappear.”



Cannabis in Compliance


Community Development Director Tony Stewart reported that Port Hueneme’s cannabis dispensaries “are on track to be in full compliance by their first anniversary.” The City’s dispensaries operate under development agreements that mandate revenue sharing and a “charitable contribution” equal to one per cent of gross revenues.

The annual review covers operational, financial, and charitable aspects of each business.

Due to minor technical issues Skunkmasters was given until October 7 to complete its compliance revue.


"A Voice for the Port and the Museum."


Larry Downing accepts recognition from the Oxnard Harbor District.


The Oxnard Harbor District (OHD) Board of Directors recently recognized Larry Downing for his service to the community. Mr. Downing has served for many years as a member of the Port Hueneme Historical Commission and is well known as the curator of the Port Hueneme Historical Museum.


Citing Mr. Downing’s efforts to establish lighthouse and harbor tours, OHD Executive Director Kristen Decas said, “There’s never been a better voice for the Port and the Historical Museum.”  


The Railroad Comes and Goes


Kurt Osterhaudt relives life on the rails.


Curt Osterhoudt brought tales of the glory days of railroading to the Hueneme Historical Society Museum.  

“Communities grew up aroung the stations,” he explained. “The telegraph operator was the first guy who knew what was happening.”

While the driving of the “Golden Spike” sent the message “Go West”, it was just as important to connect North and South. In California that meant a rail line from the Bay Area through Bakersfield, around the Tehachipis to Saugus, and on through the Newhall Tunnel — then the longest in the Continent — to Sylmar.

The Coast Line soon follwed, from San Jose to Gilroy, down to San Luis Obispo, which is still a crew change point, to Ventura, then on to Saugus by way of the agricultural Santa Clara Valley. “The tracks in Fillmore today are the original tracks from 1870,” Mr.Osterhoudt marveled.

When the Oxnard Brothers built their sugar beet factory at the turn of the last century a spur line was constructed to carry the beets in from distant areas like Simi Valley. Santa Susana was the end of the line. The beets were loaded on trains at a wagon dump on today’s First Street.

“To go from Santa Susana to Los Angeles you had to take the train to Montalvo, then down the Valley to Saugus. It was a day’s ride,” Mr. Osterhaudt recounted.

In 1904 the construction of the Santa Susana Tunnel not only considerably shortened the distance, it relieved some of the congestion at what had become the Saugus bottleneck.

The first half of the 20th Century marked the height of rail transportation. Both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt passed through Ventura County on whistle-stop tours, staying at the original home of Sen. Thomas Bard. “Fast mail” trains sped by at 70 miles an hour, grabbing mail bags from the mail crane without slowing down. Postal workers labored day and night in the mail car. The Railway Express Agency transported parcels from every station.

By 1958 things were slowing down. Simi became a “flag stop” — the train would only stop if there were a passenger waiting. After 1965 Oxnard was the only remaining stop in Ventura County.

The last train left Santa Susana in 1974. It carried sugar beets.


Santa Susana Railroad Museum


With the station no longer being an active stop, the Rancho Simi Park District bought the building for $1.06 and moved it from First Street to its present location. It has been open as a museum for the past 21 years.



Stenslie Elected to Leadership Council


Bruce Stenslie, EDC President & CEO has been elected to the California Forward Leadership Council. California Forward (CA Fwd) is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 that advocates for shared prosperity across all of the state’s regions and for improved government performance and accountability.

"I'm honored to join the CA Fwd Leadership Council," said Stenslie. "Our newly fortified and dynamic work in the regions of the state helps make certain that every local economy and all Californians are considered as we promote policies that can lift more Californians into the middle class."


For more information on California Forward please visit their website.

History by the Minute


Beverly Merrill Kelley


Let’s face it, we’re all busy people.  We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time?  This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two.  And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society.  If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to Kelley@callutheran.edu.  We will be exploring the Fabulous Fifties in Port Hueneme during this segment of History by the Minute.


R. A. Wilson, Chief Administrative Officer


In July of 1953, the city council, hoping to realize an additional $16,000 a year in state taxes, authorized the taking of a special census.  The September 1953 census found that the increase in population was expected to generate an additional $37,792 in state gas and motor vehicle taxes. 

With this anticipated boost in revenue, the council approved a budget that included the $6,000 salary for a full-time chief administrative officer to coordinate all the services provided by the city. 

In early November, the council gave the nod to a San Francisco engineer named R. A. Wilson at a salary of $6,000 a year.  Wilson, who was discouraged by too many problems and too few dollars, would resign in July 1955.  Within two weeks, he would be replaced by Walter Moranda, who would take on the city manager position in addition to continuing to serve as the superintendent of the Hueneme Sanitary District as well as heading up the street and water departments.

Brick Wahl



As big gnarly dudes pass sixty they see what’s left of their studliness fritter away. Yesterday the wife asked—well, hereby ordered—me to hang up some posters in the bedroom. We still have posters in the bedroom, being groovy. (No, not Credence Clearwater Revisited or Neil Young’s AARP tour.)

So I went and got the push pins, held the poster in place and stuck the pin in with my  thumb, but nothing happened. I tried again. Nothing happened. Tried again. Still nothing. I was mystified.

"This wall sure has gotten hard," I said aloud. "Sure," my wife said.

It took a few more tries before it dawned on me that at some point in the last couple years my thumb had gotten too feeble to push a tack into the wall. Arthritis. All around me were things hung up over the years, held in place with tacks I had pushed into walls and wood soft as butter. Now I had to get the little hammer. It’s a rock hammer, actually, perfect for splitting open rocks to see what died inside a quarter billion years ago or for tapping tacks into a stubborn wall.

But years of epilepsy have left me with a tremor imperceptible 'till I try to take a picture of a check with my iPhone or manage to hit my thumb with a hammer three out of four blows. So I got the big hammer which shattered the push pins, which unlike walls have not gotten harder over the years. Eventually I hung up the posters with nails. Nails. A hammer and nails. Then I fell and couldn’t get up.

OK, I didn’t, but my thumbs might as well have, the bums. It’s not like they don’t get plenty of exercise. They do. I’m an old drummer laying down beats and paradiddles endlessly, like a child with hyperactivity issues. But air drumming and coffee table solos haven’t done much for the digits. The finger muscles that would grip a plastic wine glass a little too hard (they use to shatter so easily, try doing that at a chic press event) or leave bruises without ever meaning to, well they’re just not what they used to be. You can’t be all thumbs when the thumb can’t even push a damn thumb tack into a wall.

Especially if the walls keep getting harder.


SD's Pot Ordinance Hit by State Supreme Court


Is a zoning change to allow medical marijuana a "project" under CEQA? The State Supremes think so.


A City-Run Database to Boost Local Arts and Culture

Lafayette, Louisiana, creates database connecting artists and performers.



The Area 51 Raid is Cancelled

How a Facebook joke spiraled out of control.


We Have a Website!

The Hueneme Pilot has joined the World Wide Web! It may be simple and still under construction, but it's our website:




At the Museum

September 14


Police Chief Andrew Salinas "State of Cannabis in Port Hueneme"

September 21
Frank Barajas "Chicana/o Movement in Ventura County"

September 28
Gerry Olsen  "Ventura County Western Grades"


Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum

220 Market St, Port Hueneme, CA 93041


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J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher


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