Nov 112014

A Proposal:

Oxnard Blvd as AN URBAN RESIDENTIAL COMPLETE STREETS CORRIDOR from the 101 to Pleasant Valley Road.

The concept is that the Oxnard Boulevard corridor be rezoned (as a ‘form based code’ or in some way codified to – encourage and incentivize – mixed use and housing) for retail at the street level with diverse residential above. 4, 5 and perhaps 6 story residential buildings with higher end homes at the top level and all nature of dwellings below: Singles, one – two – three and even four bedrooms units with appropriately sized attached outdoor spaces and gardens. Providing housing options for multi-generational needs, seniors, small families, empty nesters and more. All mixed to make a rich diversity for housing along the Blvd. “To the extent possible we should aim at “flooding” the market with housing, in order to make it affordable to all, not just to build affordable housing.”

In addition the new Blvd will be a tree lined pedestrian and bicycle friendly model of a walkable community the entire length of the new urban corridor, in other words Oxnard Blvd will become a Complete Street. Transportation planners – listen up – as a society we are moving towards more public transportation and much smaller vehicles and away from wide auto dominated speedways that destroy a livable walkable urban landscape.

The new Blvd will have the look and feel of a more urban space with pocket parks and other civic amenities (public art and more) along the spine. This is not a rigid idea – it’s an idea with lots of flexibility built in. Many variations and permutations within the basic theme of housing and retail concentrated along a walkable urban corridor. Each block along the current corridor is different, suggesting and evoking variations on the general theme of an urban residential street.

It is expected that Ventura County, a very desirable and attractive – if less well known area, will experience a strong demand for housing going into the future. This project location will link the LA area via Santa Monica and Malibu to all points north, starting here in Ventura County, onto Santa Barbara County, with Central California and points north. The mix of housing types will, in part, be aimed at Millennials and other savvy urban seeking young people and tech workers. Creative development options, like those proposed here, reduces the pressure to sprawl with its detrimental effects on cities – and enhances our quality of life.

Oxnard has a historic district that may not want a downtown with all the hustle and bustle to encroach into the area. With this plan Oxnard downtown remains A, B, and C streets. There are a number of historic business and buildings along the corridor. These entities must be respected and integrated into the fabric of this plan.

The Blvd will provide auto, bus, and perhaps other (innovative) access from Pleasant Valley to the 101 via this route. However, the Oxnard downtown area (A, B, and C streets) from 1st or 2nd streets to 8th or 9th streets will have streets designed in such a way as to connect the downtown with the Blvd, and perhaps a walking link from the downtown to the Blvd at 2nd and or 6th street.

Many ideas have been proposed for a vital downtown Oxnard and upgraded Blvd, but I am not aware of anyone suggesting this concept. As I think about it this it’s not so much about downtown as it is about creating an urban residential corridor on the Blvd. A few nodes of “neighborhood centers” along the spine of housing will develop – which I perceive as a good thing, as well as helping our current downtown grow in the future.

All too often parking is the form generator for cities. Clearly this is not a good way to plan for the future. The residential structures I am proposing for the Oxnard Blvd Urban Residential Corridor may have parking at the street level behind retail and perhaps on the second floor with residential above. This second floor parking might (will) be designed so it can be easily converted into residential or office space as we advance further into a world where we use public transportation and bicycles more and cars less. Also with appropriate public transportation, perhaps we plan for one parking space in the residential structure and another in a easily accessible parking structure near by. Or a credit of some kind is given for only one parking space.

Currently Oxnard Blvd has a shabby look with empty lots and the remnants of auto dealers, strip malls, and other old worn out buildings lining a rundown road. The above ideas have the potential to make Oxnard Blvd and the City of Oxnard a leader in transportation planning and housing innovation in Ventura County.

Roy Prince Architect

While most of the ideas and concepts above are my own (of course they are in the public domain and have been used elsewhere), I did get feedback and refinement from other stakeholders in our community, and for this I am grateful.

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