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Coastal Panel Backs Site for RV Project

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ignoring the wishes of the Port Hueneme City Council, the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday granted a final permit allowing the city to build a 139-space recreational-vehicle resort on the municipality’s only beach.

The commission’s 10-1 vote came 24 hours after the City Council passed a resolution asking the panel to nullify the previous council’s request backing the resort.

“I’m furious,” said Port Hueneme Mayor Toni Young, who attended the commission’s meeting in Los Angeles. “I can’t believe the Coastal Commission disregarded our request and went ahead with the previous council’s request.

“It’s amazing to me that the commission doesn’t see that the people of Port Hueneme do not want an RV park on their beach.”

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Although the city has no obligation to proceed with the project, it could be resurrected by any future council, said Tom Figg, the city’s director of community development.

Young said she fears that if the project is not killed, it will continue to divide the community.

“This project has caused much animosity in this city, and it’s time we put it to rest,” Young said. “It would be a mistake to leave this project hanging there.”

Young said she plans to ask the council to submit a new proposal to the Coastal Commission asking it to reverse the zoning of the project from an RV resort site to that of a city park.

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The project was proposed five years ago by council members who argued that it would add $400,000 a year to city coffers.

But opponents feared it would spoil the character of their community and harm the area’s natural habitat.

The issue roused oceanfront homeowners into political action, drawing crowds to City Council meetings and generating a heated political campaign last fall in which 14 council candidates lined up for or against the RV resort.

The three RV park supporters who chose not to run again were replaced by one supporter and two opponents.

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But before the old council disbanded in December, it submitted to the Coastal Commission a request to build the RV park.

When the new council was seated, it sent the commission a letter asking that the project be withdrawn, and Tuesday it held an emergency meeting to pass a resolution emphasizing the city’s decision.

After the Coastal Commission vote Wednesday, new council members Jon Sharkey and Robert Turner said they plan to leave the project alone.

“I’m disappointed with the Coastal Commission,” Turner said. “I think they acted without any consideration toward the will of the people of Port Hueneme. But I feel that we have done everything we could to stop this project, and now it’s time to move forward. We need to take care of other city business.”

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The other council members--Orvene Carpenter, who has been on the council since 1964, and newly elected member Anthony Volante--support the RV park project.

Meanwhile, members of the League for Coastal Protection, a nonprofit San Francisco-based environmental organization, said Wednesday they plan to file a lawsuit against the Coastal Commission.

“The commission made a decision which is very bad to the environment,” said Sara Wam, vice chairwoman for the league. “We believe that an RV park at the Port Hueneme beach would destroy very sensitive habitat, and we can’t let that happen.”


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