Downtown Oxnard is another step closer to receiving a new look after the City Council discussed revitalization plans and capital improvements for the district at a meeting on Monday night, though approval for funding for the project was deferred to the new year.
Oxnard City Council discussed the downtown vision plan and its implementation plan, stakeholders that other. The plan, in two phases, would begin with “improvements essential for community health, safety and welfare,” including creating a strategy to address homelessness downtown, beginning budget planning and reactivating the façade improvement and revolving loan programs.
Also on the agenda were capital improvement plans to be funded by $1.4 million from the Downtown Improvement Settlement Fund, the city’s General Fund and elsewhere, should the City Council approve the expenditures in January upon return from winter break.
Downtown District Executive Director Abel Ramirez Magana says that the decision to defer was not a setback, but rather an opportunity to “fine-tune” the plan, adding that, by recommendation of the Congress for New Urbanism that hosted several design charrettes in early 2016, smaller test projects will begin based on successful ideas from other California cities.
“There’s some spaces out here that are vacant parcels that could benefit from a treatment and could be done with nominal investment and would go a long way to creating improvements,” said Magana, alluding to the potential for pocket parks or art installations.
Of note for fine-tuning of the plan is whether the city needs a dedicated downtown development manager or if the district could hire individuals to help implement the Congress of New Urbanism plan.
“We had a contingency of about 20 guys from their organization, and the principles of new urbanism are throughout that charrette report,” said Magana. “It makes sense that you’d have to have somebody in here who is well versed in that, someone who can see that through.”
In 2015, after a 3-year-long legal battle with the city, the developers of the city’s downtown movie theater and the developers of The Collection at Riverpark netted a $6.1 million earmark for downtown revitalization, enabling the city to put once-scrapped ideas back on to the table. Because of the impact The Collection would have on downtown Oxnard, the developers agreed to help fund revitalization efforts.
In February of this year, the Oxnard Community Planning Group, Congress for the New Urbanism and the city of Oxnard hosted a five-day charrette and gathered input from community members and organizations and drafted a vision plan for the district that includes art installations, retail spaces and pocket parks. The Oxnard City Council will convene again in 2017, but no date is schedule for further discussion on the issue.