Oxnard Plaza Park
The Plaza Park has unquestionably been the heart of Oxnard and the heart of its Downtown from the town’s beginnings until now. The two most distinctive structures in Oxnard – the pagoda built by grateful Chinese workers, and the Carnegie Library built in 1906 with a grant from the Carnegie foundation and local fundraising – grace the park, which serves as the location for many of the city’s important special events throughout the year.
In a 1993 public design Charrette – conducted in a tent in the park – a distinguished team of urban planners prepared a master plan for the park, shown on the right. A number of possibilities for the park were explored during this 2016 Charrette, but for the most part the team’s recommendation
for the park remains to just complete the 1993 master plan.
Recommended improvements completed in 1996 include:
- Removing the flat roofed public restrooms and drained reflecting pools, the only other piece of the disastrous Gruen Plan for the Downtown that was built, aside from the A Street Mall, since removed;
- Round off the south edge of the park to allow twoway Fifth Street traffic to flow smoothly around the park, relieving the intractable congestion that the original (beautiful) square shape engendered.
- Converting the branch of Fifth Street along the north side of the park to a parking lot.
Since that time the Park has been used as the venue for the farmers market, the Strawberry Festival, Salsa Festival, food truck nights, and many other events.
Recommended improvements not yet built include:
- A curving colonnade around the south edge of the park, providing spatial definition of the new semicircular form of the park, and a gracious shaded walkway that can anchor the farmers market and other public events in the park.
- Small, flexible kiosks at the north ends of the colonnade, providing beautiful location for sales of coffee, cold drinks, tacos, flowers, newspapers, or other merchandise. These could be either permanent or temporary uses of such kiosks, providing the opportunity for refreshment or entertainment within the park itself.
- Paving the parking area along the north side of the park as a “plaza”, as originally recommended rather than cutting off the park from the Carnegie Library with an asphalt parking lot.
- Paving (perhaps with decomposed granite and/ or concrete pavers) the southerly half of the park as a true “plaza”, which in addition to providing a good surface for public events would recognize the increasingly urban character of the Downtown and Anglo/Hispanic traditions of California towns.
- The configuration of curbs and sidewalks on the south side of Fifth Street was based on traffic
engineering requirements of the early 1990s, and, in addition to being quite unattractive, unnecessarily favours vehicular traffic at the expense of pedestrians. We strongly recommend that this be corrected, as follows.
- The original, simple design, above, anticipated angled parking along the existing straight curbline. That evolved into awkward triangular “porkchops” so that large vehicles could make free-right turns from northbound C Street to eastbound Fifth Street, which we believe is completely unnecessary.
- Buses coming north on C Street can turn east onto 6th Street or 4th Street, the latter being
the direct route the Oxnard Transportation Center. Large trucks can do the same. Oxnard
only has one Plaza Park, and the properties to the south should have the strongest possible
connection to it.
- As an alternative to the original design, a design with a curving south curbline and parallel
parking could also be considered, which could provide corner plaza spaces for more landscaping and/or outdoor dining areas.