PORT HUENEME : Council Hands Port Decision to LAFCO
The Port Hueneme City Council on Monday authorized the Local Agency Formation Commission to shrink the boundaries of the Oxnard Harbor District by 70%, which means that Camarillo and part of Thousand Oaks will no longer have a voice in the operations of the port.
The harbor district operates the port, the only deep water harbor between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
As a result of the action Monday, which followed a public hearing, only Oxnard and the city of Port Hueneme will be represented on the district board. The five members of the board had been elected by voters in all four cities.
Port Hueneme had been selected by the commission to handle the reorganization of the harbor district. The council was able to authorize the shrinking of the district because fewer than the necessary 25% of the landowners and 25% of the registered voters within the current boundaries filed a written protest against the reorganization before the meeting. If a majority of landowners and voters had opposed the plan, the proposal would have been abandoned.
In fact, fewer than 1% of the more than 132,000 property owners and registered voters in the existing district declared their opposition to the reorganization. Some residents of Camarillo and other areas said Monday that they have been paying taxes for many years and have a right to ownership of the port, despite the lack of organized opposition to the plan.
Besides having no voice in the operation of the port, the areas detached from the harbor district, which include some unincorporated areas of the county, will no longer have to pay taxes levied to cover debts incurred by the district. Robert Braitman, the executive director of LAFCO, said that such a tax has not been levied for about 12 years because port profits have covered the debts.
Oxnard and Port Hueneme city officials say, on the other hand, that those two cities should have the lion’s share of board representation since their residents are most affected by traffic and pollution from the port, and provide fire and police protection.