Community effort to acquire Oxnard city property to create multiple-use complex in historic downtown

Our latest community efforts to acquire Oxnard city property to create an art and community multiple-use complex in historic downtown

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By Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.

The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective met Friday, September 22, 2017, at our temporary art gallery, the old Social Security building located at 445 South B Street in Oxnard. This historic building had been left vacate by the city for more than seven years. Thanks to the progressive vision of Jesus Nava, Assistant City Manager, the city of Oxnard is permitting limited use of the Social Security building to certain non-profits in the community.

The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective is a progressive, activist, and passionate locally based group of community artists, business folk, activists, students and parents who are working to sustain the arts and cultural renaissance in Oxnard. This community arts and culture movement was largely initiated two decades ago by the now defunct Café on A/ Acuna Art Gallery & Cultural Arts Center and it’s many long-time supporters. 

In attendance at the September 22, 2017 meeting were the following community representatives: Dr Debbie De Vries, Armando Vazquez, M.Ed., Executive Directors of the Foundation, EERD, and curators of the current Latino Visions in Oxnard ‘2017 Exhibition, Julie Medina, director of the Las Salseras, One Love Dance Company and Artists’ Women’s Interactive Network (A WIN), Rene Corado, bestselling author and preeminent local biologist & environmental activist, Christian Quirino, local writer& activist, Richard Arcia, Artist, Julian Vergara, Artist,  Tina Holguin, Realtor and activist, Alexus and Isaac Medina, student activists.

The topic of discussion was how do we best coordinate and maximize our community efforts to permanently acquire the Social Security building from the city of Oxnard’s Successor Agency, and develop the building into a multi-use complex that provides art, retail, education, social service spaces as well as housing for students, low income, seniors, and special needs populations in downtown Oxnard?

A concise presentation was made by Armando Vazquez and Dr. Debbie De Vries, on the history of Redevelopment Agencies in the United States, their impacts in California and Oxnard, the elimination, by Governor Jerry Brown and the state legislature of the Redevelopment Agency more than a decade ago; the creation of the state wide Successor Agencies that were burdened with the liquidation of the defunct Redevelopment Agency property portfolios; and the problems facing Oxnard’s Successor Agency as it tries to liquidate the properties they have in their current portfolio. It was a crash course on the current state driven mandates facing the city of Oxnard’s Successor Agency. It is safe to say that the city’s current conundrum is an once in a lifetime opportunity to seize the moment, mobilize, acquire the historic Social Security building and convert the property into the transparent and democratically envisioned multi-purpose community development that is so desperately needed in the downtown area.

It was agreed that the vast majority of the residents that our collective has canvased in Oxnard in recent months would support a campaign to have The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective permanently acquire the Social Security building for the development of a multi-use complex to serve the community as mentioned above. In order to get full participation and provide mass exposure to our acquisition efforts it was agreed by The Acuna Art & Culture Collective that we should produce a community public relations campaign that will include a video production serving multiple purposes, including; information and negotiation, democratic transparency to the Oxnard community, serving as an educational and political tool that complements other communication and information strategies which we will continue to be developed.

So now the hard work begins! As with all new, complex and innovate ventures getting the state, the city and residents of Oxnard on the same informed page will be a challenge but not impossible. We must convince the Oxnard Successor Agency, the State of California, local stakeholders and residents that The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective is a solid and viable potential “buyer and developer” of the Social Security building. In presenting our commitment and support we can demonstrate that we have a wide range of influential and important strategic partnerships in our venture that include the Laborers Union Local 585, UFW, ODMD, a variety of non-profits and social service providers, local colleges and universities, many local businesses, local politicians, artist and educators, and strong grass roots support from many residents and students of Oxnard.

In January of 2017, The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective tendered an initial purchase offer to the city of Oxnard’s Successor Agency to purchase the Social security building, 445 South B Street, and to date we have not yet received a response to our bid. In fairness to the city of Oxnard we think that the administration was scrambling to “get their ducks in a row” and were so inundated with state mandates and directives that it was nearly impossible to respond to local purchase inquiries and bids. This is now the closing days of September, 2017 and we feel that the city of Oxnard has had sufficient time to get it Successor Agency property liquidation protocol in order. We are aware that recently the Successor Agency issued a public Request for Formal Qualifications (RFQ) and that during this initial formal process there wasn’t one formal RFQ submitted to the city for consideration.

We requested recently that the city of Oxnard be more transparent in it public notice and informational RFQ campaign as it involves the very important actions of the liquidation of “taxpayer” property. Kimberly R. Horner, Economic Director  and lead city administrator of the Oxnard Successor Agency property portfolio liquidation campaign has indicated that she will make sure that there is a more expansive and universal community outreach efforts when it begins it second round of RFQ solicitations that should begin before this year has ended. 

The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective offers its commitment and community development expertise to the city of Oxnard to assure transparency and universal inclusions of all of the Oxnard community in maximize resident input and partcipation into this very historic development project.

The Acuna Arts & Culture Collective objective is to submit a second formal bid to acquire the Social security building to the city of Oxnard before the end of the year 2017. We welcome and encourage community involvement and participation in this historic effort to acquire the old Social Security building. Only with the critical mass of community participation, conscience informed involvement and hard work will we be able to make this once in a life time community development project a reality which all of the residents of Oxnard so richly deserve. Join us please at our next meeting of The Acuna Art & Culture Collective acquisition of the Social Security building which will be held next Friday, September 29, 2017 at the Social Security building, located at 445 South B Street ( across from the Plaza Cinemas).


Armando Vazquez

Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.  is Executive Director of  Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition


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