Ventura harbor entrance closed; Tall ships, Island Packers relocated
Though the promised torrential downpour has yet to begin in Ventura County, El Niño’s mark has been felt on a Ventura Harbor tradition: the visit of the tall ships.
Heavy swells generated by the storms in the Pacific Ocean have created hazardous conditions for the ships, forcing them to relocate to the Channel Islands Harbor for the remainder of their stay.
The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, whose stay in the Ventura Harbor was to run through Sunday, Feb. 7, will now complete their schedule at the Channel Islands Harbor with activities that include walk-on tours, battle sails and more.
Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, owner of the vessels, made the decision to relocate after consulting the harbormaster, who confirmed that the storms have created hazardous conditions at the harbor’s entrance.
Island Packers, which operates day excursions to the Channel Islands National Park, have also moved operations to Channel Islands Harbor.
Over the weekend, hazardous conditions closed the entrance to the harbor for vessels. On Sunday, a dory operated by an elderly couple capsized forcing a rescue by the Ventura Fire Department with assistance from the Ventura Port District and state lifeguards. The couple were taken to a local hospital for observation and reported that they had not heard of the entrance closure.
But the impact has been much greater on fishing and other vessels, as the harbor entrance — which usually spans 300 feet — has been reduced to a 30-foot exit, with water as shallow as 14 feet (typically 40 feet deep or more).
Harbor Master John Higgins says that operations are underway to get the harbor dredged of sand washed into the entrance and that a dredging was scheduled for Feb. 8. Higgins says that he hopes to have the dredging begin by Feb. 1.
“We’re just asking boaters to bear with us and be patient,” said Higgins, “allow us to prepare to get that dredge here as quick as possible; we’d love nothing better to get it open.”
Higgins says that boats are being led out of the harbor, through a U.S. Coast Guard safe zone, by request, but that return is impossible until the dredging is completed.
LOCAL OIL COMPANY NOTIFIED OF POTENTIAL LAWSUIT OVER WATER POLLUTION
The Environmental Defense Center has notified California Resources Corporation of its intent to sue the oil exploration and development firm for violations of the Clean Water Act at its 5,757-acre South Mountain oil field outside of Santa Paula.
The EDC alleges that the corporation has allowed runoff from its operations to pollute the Santa Clara River and Calleguas Creek watershed over the last five years, claiming that “CRC is discharging total suspended solids and other pollutants orders of magnitude above water-quality benchmarks and guidelines” and failing to implement mandated treatment controls.
“The storm water pollution from the South Mountain oil field threatens water quality in two important Ventura County watersheds, both of which drain to area beaches,” stated Brian Segee, EDC senior attorney in a press release. “We hope that our notice will convince CRC to clean up its operations and meet Clean Water Act standards, but EDC is prepared to go to court if necessary.”
The Center says that by notifying the Corporation, it hopes that steps will be taken to fix the violations, preventing court intervention.
IRS Announces Appointment Service, AARP announces tax assistance
As if worrying about El Niño weren’t enough, here comes the tax man. Fear not, however; help is on the way.
The IRS has announced that appointments are now being taken at the Camarillo IRS Tax Assistance Center, where previously only walk-ins were allowed. The IRS says that doing so will help to alleviate long lines and to reduce frustration for both the taxpayer and the employees waiting to help them. The service is free to those who make less than $49,000 annually.
Taxpayers wishing to schedule an appointment may call 1-844-545-5640. The Camarillo IRS Tax Assistance Center is located at 751 Daily Drive in Camarillo.
The AARP is also opening its doors to seniors and low-income adults this tax season. The organization will assist in e-filing and tax preparation beginning on Monday, Feb. 1, through April 15.
There are many locations throughout Ventura County, with a few requiring an appointment. For more information and locations, visit www.local.aarp.org/ventura-ca.