Oxnard’s Vacant RDA Properties Must be Sold — Turn them into Cultural Centers
By Armando Vazquez
The city of Oxnard’s Successor Agency, that was hastily patched together sometime after 2012 by city officials, is the “illegitimate” progeny of the abolished Redevelopment Agency (RDA’s). It must begin selling its 52+ properties and parcels. It has lost costly administrative and courts battles in the last five years, and has run out of legal shenanigans to further delay the inevitable and comply with the state mandate.
The best estimate of the current value of Oxnard’s RDA land and parcels is approximately $125,000,000.00 dollars (2012 estimates). Many have been vacant for years and are an embarrassment and eyesore. City officials claim they are handcuffed by the state to come up with creative to ideas and solutions for the occupancy and use. However by the way they were legally acquired they actually belong to the people of Oxnard.
2017 and the city of Oxnard will have to scrabble to liquidate all 52 plus properties as quickly as possible. This is where the greed, maleficence and madness of Oxnard’s RDA’s is painfully illuminated! Delays in the selling properties can result in costly penalties being assessed by the state. To add insult to injury the city of Oxnard will receive at most an embarrassing 20% of the sales proceeds. So the one thing the city of Oxnard can no longer do is drag its feet, like it has for the past few years. The “usual suspect” developer and the well-connected money know that city is behind a rock and a hard place; the perfect scenario for easy pickings! So in January 2017 these high rollers will descend on Oxnard ready to gobble up all of the properties at super discounted, give-away prices. The city of Oxnard is not mandated by state to follow basic market value protocols; they are only mandated to liquidate their inventory. The city can sell the properties at whatever price; as long as the greater mandate of fulfilling the city’s master plan objectives are met.
Oxnard residents must demand a place at the Successor Agency Community Advisory Table
Where does the abolishment of Oxnard’s RDA’s and the Successor Agency that now hold more than 52+ properties and parcels of land in their portfolio leave the residents of Oxnard who all had to pay in some way (think local, state, and federal taxation) for the purchases. Residents of Oxnard will be left with pennies on the dollar if the properties sell. The likeliest scenario is that the city will obfuscate and continue to leave the properties vacant and without temporary occupants.
This “city created blight and neglect” can no longer be tolerated; we must mobilize, organize and demand an equitable share holder place at the Successor Advisory Board, and negotiate the ownership of downtown properties (Social Security Building or the So. Cal Gas Building) for the creation, growth and development of a community arts and cultural centers, low income housing, shelters for the homeless, battered women and foster/displaced youth/student housing and building needs that are unique to the disenfranchised Oxnard community. At the last Oxnard Multicultural Community Health Coalition meeting we initiated a petition, signed by 20 Oxnard community members requesting that the city of Oxnard make one of its building available to the Acuna Gallery/Café on A. Come January, 2017 we will approach city officials and negotiate terms of purchase and ownership of one of the downtown properties, we want to the city of Oxnard to deal with us in good faith and sell us one of their downtown properties.
Let’s make the disposition of real property assets in accordance with a state-approved City of Oxnard Long-Range Property Management Plan. The Café on A/Acuna Art Gallery is the perfect occupant (per master plan specifications; arts and culture) for short list consideration. We can fill those now empty building, which means more pedestrians, business traffic, revenues and taxes, the possibilities are quite exciting and limitless!
We must act now!
Our request is simply, to occupy one of these vacant buildings (preferably the Former Social Security Building or the former S. Cal Gas Building in the downtown area). Both of these buildings have been vacant for years. The Acuna Gallery/Cafe on A and our partners fit perfectly into every study and best case scenario revitalization planning that has been researched, documented and has city council approval. The idea now being floated as the best use of urban redevelopment/design protocol, namely; partnerships with a long well established arts and culture non-profit institutions that have historically provided the residents of Oxnard the opportunity to experience the magical transformation and economic exchange of local and diverse creativity, that will greatly enhance and support the financial, safety and entertainment vitality in the City of Oxnard. The City Council member can do the smart and right thing and sell or donate one of the identified downtown vacant properties over to the Cafe on A/Acuna Art Gallery.
I have read the Redevelopment Dissolution language and it is couched in a lot of creative wiggle room, as long as it benefits the redevelopment scheme of the city and passes muster with Sacramento. Our request I think is a slam dunk for approval by all parties.
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