Oxnard – Implementation Strategy Summary
Our nation’s preeminent town planner, John Nolen, wrote in his 1912 book, Replanning Small Cities, “The gravest neglect is the failure to replan and replan to meet increasing demands, to readjust and readjust, to use art and skill and foresight to remodel existing conditions.” Twenty years ago, a visionary master plan by one of the country’s top urban planners was created for Downtown Oxnard, but it was not fully implemented, and many stakeholders today do not
even recall its existence. This is not an unusual situation. Great plans are created for many cities, but sadly, too often they sit on a shelf and gather dust.
The key to ensuring that this does not happen again is the creation and adoption of a robust implementation strategy. We have outlined a straightforward Plan for Action, which if followed, will ensure a dramatic transformation of Downtown Oxnard over several years. The following is a
summary of the four most critical steps to ensure that this Vision Plan has an impact.
We recommend the following:
The City Council adopts the Oxnard Downtown Vision Plan by Resolution.
The City creates a focused and accountable implementation structure under the Oxnard Planning
Commission or Oxnard Downtown Partnership to hire a Downtown Development Director. A real estate and/or urban design professional with the abilities to dedicate significant time (100% if an employee or a minimum of 50% if a consultant) to implement the Vision Plan and to ensure that there is continuous progress at the fastest possible rate.
Enable small infill mixed-use development to occur more easily than greenfield developments
in the city’s agricultural edge by adopting the Implementation Thresholds outlined on Table 3-1
into the Municipal Zoning Code. A ‘Lean Urbanism’ approach to strip away redundant discretionary reviews and allow for new development deemed acceptable to the majority of citizens and adhering to best economic development practices. The intent is to create more attainable housing stock and local commercial opportunities necessary to revitalize downtown today.
Marshall the support and involvement of key Downtown stakeholders who have a vested interest
in Downtown’s success to be part of the chosen structure, either the Oxnard Planning Commission
or Oxnard Downtown Partnership. Many of these individuals may be willing to make investments in the Downtown if they have confidence that a smart, professionally orchestrated implementation process has been established. The structure and activities should be transparent, and members will need to recuse themselves from decision-making when there are conflicts of interest.
Catalytic project investments (large scale) must be identified and prioritized, with implementation
strategies identified for each project. Public realm investments will be spearheaded by the City, at least initially. Private realm (small scale) projects will be spearheaded by the existing stakeholders in the private sector, and these investments should be coordinated by the new implementation structureto ensure maximum catalytic potential. These local individuals and their investments in new buildings in the Downtown will be the main trigger, in addition to other steps taken by the City to improve predictability, that will spur larger-scale investment by outside developers.
Once the above steps have a measurable amount of success, such as new housing added, increased
commercial activity, and lower rate of auto and pedestrian conflicts, we recommend undertaking a
more comprehensive ‘Place-Based,’ ‘Context-Sensitive’ or ‘Form-Based’ entitlement policy and development regulation updated to existing rules and regulations to make new development more predictable.
The Congress for the New Urbanism California Chapter appreciates this opportunity to assist the City of Oxnard with the creation of its Downtown Vision Plan. We also sincerely appreciate the citizens who participated, city leadership and staff, and especially the collaborative efforts of Dao Doan, Roy Prince, Kymberly Horner, and City Manager Greg Nyhoff for making this Vision Plan possible.
We look forward to remaining involved with this Vision Plan as it proceeds through the City’s review, refinement, and approval process.