Oxnard – Walking Tour
On Sunday, January 31, at 10:30 AM, approximately twenty CNU participants conducted a walking tour of Oxnard’s historic Downtown. Led by Gary Blum, Director of the Downtown Oxnard Merchants Association, the tour began at Plaza Park across from the Carnegie Art Museum and the
Downtown Management Office. The group discussed nearterm opportunities to refocus high-quality infill developments around Plaza Park in order to re-establish the heart of Downtown Oxnard around Plaza Park.
Heading away from the park, the tour group continued east on 5th Street, one of the City’s original east-west crosstown corridors, towards Oxnard Boulevard. In the early 1900s, this corridor primary consisted of housing, but it was gradually replaced by commercial uses through the 1940s and 50s as major retail anchors including J.C. Penney, the General Telephone Company and the Oxnard Savings and Loan opened shop. During this time, approximately 30 buildings were demolished
by order of the City of Oxnard, in the Downtown commercial district. Many of these buildings were older, dilapidated residences hastily constructed when the town was first established in order to provide worker housing. Despite the expansion of large-scale commercial buildings, Downtown Oxnard’s urban pattern and block sizes are reminiscent of its original downtown character with a lively mix of housing, commercial and retail.
In 2005, the City of Oxnard commissioned a historic survey of roughly 400 parcels in Downtown Oxnard. The survey reviewed buildings that were built before 1960 which amounted to 253 structures – many of these buildings are still standing and potentially eligible for historic preservation.
In addition to buildings, Downtown’s public realm hosts a number of elements relevant to pedestrian-oriented design – including large-canopy street trees and diagonal parking – that can be expanded upon through future planning and development efforts. Future design efforts should also
explore increased signage, wayfinding and urban design schemes that announce the presence of Downtown to passers-by traveling north and south on Oxnard Boulevard, especially from 4th, 5th and 6th Streets.
At the end of the tour, the group walked through a service alley and parking lot just north of 5th street, eventually arriving at the Centennial Plaza. By carefully identifying alleys, lots and similar spaces, enhanced mid-block crossings can enhance and increase pedestrian connectivity throughout the Downtown.
Walking Tour Key Recommendations
- Transform the Boulevard from worn out highway to Downtown Avenue
- Announce Downtown and invite people in at Palm and 3rd and Wooley
- Show Downtown to passersby at 4th and 5th and 6th and 7th
- Focus around the Plaza Park near-term effort for highquality infill development