By Anne Kallas
PORT HUENEMEME, Calif. – The Port of Hueneme invited more than 100 government representatives, contractors and community leaders to help develop its five-year strategic plan.
At the end of the night, the group agreed that the most important priority is building stronger relationships among the Navy, Port of Hueneme and city of Port Hueneme.
With Port of Hueneme Director and CEO Kristin Decas noting that port activities generate 3,000 jobs directly and indirectly in Ventura County, the group assembled at the port’s headquarters on Thursday night was charged with developing priorities into 2020.
Led by support management company AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations and Management), various people from the community, including Port Hueneme Councilmen Doug Breeze, Tom Figg and Jim Hensley, Port Hueneme City Manager Cynthia Haas and Oxnard City Manager Greg Nyhoff, brainstormed ideas to help the Port of Hueneme become better engaged with the surrounding community.
According to Decas, the port is a “specialty port” serving as an import center for fresh fruit, with an emphasis on bananas, automobiles and liquid fertilizer. The Port of Hueneme is the only deep-water port between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and because it isn’t as big as other ports, there is less traffic congestion, which means faster times moving goods in and out of the area.
But as pointed out by different discussion groups huddled around five tables, there is a lot of work needed to make the port work at top efficiency.
Representatives of AECOM and the Port of Hueneme, which is overseen by the Oxnard Harbor District, moved around the room jotting down concerns of people at each table. The groups were asked to address economic vitality, marketing and community relations, environmental concerns, information technology and community and strategic partnerships.
Figg, a recently elected councilman who ran on a platform that included mending tattered relations between Oxnard and Port Hueneme, said he wanted the strategic planning session to be more than “a feel-good exercise.”
Among the issues raised was the need for better transportation avenues for the goods that travel through the port that is adjacent to Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme.
In addition to adding to a short railroad spur that serves the Port of Hueneme, people called for widening Hueneme Road and Rice Avenue to make it easier for trucks to move cargo in and out.
Many asked whether the Port of Hueneme would be able to annex more land to help with automobile storage, which in recent months has spilled out to various locations in Camarillo and Oxnard. But the land near the port is limited, Decas said.
Among the capital projects being considered are deepening the harbor to handle bigger ships, adding to the railroad lines, wharf modernizations, shoreline protections, and adding electrical plug-in devices to reduce carbon emissions.