The Ventura County Reporter likes to watch:

Al Sanders

Sierra Club chapter chair, environmental pit bull

Illustration by Linda Silvestri

Because the outspoken chair of the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club has been a thorn in the side of local government and developers by questioning the predictable conclusions their hired consultants reach on environmental impact reports. Because he put that skepticism to work when his group, along with several others, thwarted PVP’s plans to erect a vehicle processing plant on 38 acres near the Ormond Beach wetlands in Oxnard. Because he plans to fight the Northshore project, a proposed 347 home development on the site of a former toxic waste dump, with the same dogged intensity.

Sanders, 50, believed the Pacific Vehicle Processor’s project was larger than what the developer presented to the city council, and that PVP officials downplayed the environmental impact it would have on the wetlands and played up the number of jobs it would have provided.

“After seeing what’s promised, you pay for this and they give you that,” he said. When officials from Pacific Vehicle Processors changed their minds in January, deciding not to build on the wetlands after a brief but intense fight with Sanders and other environmentalists, he was elated.

Now he wants to see the same outcome with Oxnard’s Northshore project. Sanders said the project, located at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Harbor Blvd., came out of a “plan [that] everybody thought was extinct for 50 or 60 years” because toxic waste was dumped there a couple of decades ago. Sanders said he doubted the veracity of Northshore consultants and later his skepticism was rewarded when the Ventura Marshmilk Vetch, a plant once thought extinct, was discovered on Northshore property by someone other than the consultants. “People don’t like people who find the truth, but this is supposed to be an honest process,” he said. “… People don’t realize that we allowed a form of life to go extinct without doing something about it… by approving this project, we allowed it to go extinct a second time. What does that say about us?”

Sanders also has a beef with the city. Oxnard seems hell-bent on making the project happen, he charges, going out of its way to annex the property from the county. “Everyday people can’t get the city to jump through hoops on their behalf,” Sanders said, “but the developers of this project can.” The Los Padres chapter filed a lawsuit last March against the development, claiming the California Coastal Commission gave its final approval in violation of its own code. Sanders admits the code is open to interpretation, “but the law is the law and you’re not allowed to do that,” he said.
—Michelle Knight

Ormond Beach Wetlands / VC Reporter - We like to watch: Al Sanders / Webmaster