Coveted oceanfront land in Ventura County will become a nature preserve by the end of next year.
The proposed nature preserve, called North Coast Wilderness, is a key piece of the county’s coastal plan to combat rising sea levels, which are expected to see the area engulfed by the Pacific Ocean by 2050, according to the planning commission, which voted unanimously Tuesday night to take the final step toward approval.
The proposal was brought before the planning commission by the local organization, the Nature Conservancy, and also by the county’s Coastal Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
The board must approve the plan, which will guide projects and the countywide effort to preserve the area’s natural heritage.
It’s the kind of decision that would normally be left to local governments, but planners say this is the time for a comprehensive approach.
“I think if you look at the entire state, the state has basically abandoned its coastal region,” said Brian Moore, the chairman of the Coastal Commission, who said that until the state changes course, Ventura County must do more to prepare the county’s coastline for sea level rise.
“We must invest in the future, and we know we can do a lot in a relatively short period of time,” he said.
The proposal, which has the support of the Nature Conservancy, the Planning Commission and the Coastal Commission, will help determine what resources the property should have, as well as where those resources should be placed.
According to the Nature Conservancy, the land sits on a stretch south of Ventura Blvd. between the city of Ventura and Moorbbrook. The land is currently zoned for development and is zoned for commercial uses.
Planners, though, say that property, which would become a nature preserve, is so special that the need to protect it outweighs development concerns.
“The property is so valuable that it couldn’t be developed under the current zoning and with the present configuration of roads, utilities and utilities facilities, roads and roads and utilities,” said planning commission member Robert E. Oetjen, who voted in favor of the proposal.
“I hope it can be managed for its environmental value without the need for development,” Oetjen said.
The proposal requires a minimum of 150 acres of undeveloped land for the nature preserve, Oetjen said. The Nature Conservancy has said the land