Looking for a landmark
While the Wagon Wheel property owners have announced their intention to start demolishing the area in September to make way for a new residential and commercial development, the Ventura County Cultural Heritage Board (VCCHB) has renewed its drive to secure landmark status for the site.
On Jan. 22, the board decided to place the issue on the agenda for their upcoming meeting on Feb. 12, when it will vote on whether to recommend that the Oxnard City Council designate the 60-year-old former roadside motel and restaurant as a historic landmark.
“Part of the reason is that the property owner [development firm Oxnard Village Investments LLC] doesn’t even seem open to discussing it,” says Gary Blum, chairman of the VCCHB. “And there’s a lack of information coming from the City of Oxnard about where it stands on the issue.”
If the council grants the Wagon Wheel landmark status, the developers would have to go through the VCCHB to get a certificate of appropriateness before obtaining a demolition permit.
While the property owners have said they plan on preserving a few of the structure’s architectural elements, Blum says the board does not feel the mitigation is significant and would like to find a way for the developer to incorporate the existing building into the new project.
Third time’s a charm?
Twice in five years voters in Santa Paula have rejected ballot measures calling for the development of Adams Canyon, an area of empty agricultural land just outside the city limits. Now, developers who want to build expensive housing there are giving it a third shot.
On Jan. 18, supporters of developing the area turned in a petition to the county calling for another special election, this time asking residents to open the 6,500-acre canyon up to 495 homes as well as a hotel, school and golf course.
The petition’s signatures are currently being verified, says Santa Paula City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, and if all goes smoothly, the initiative could be in front of the city council by their Feb. 5 meeting. Should the council decide to act immediately, the measure would then be put to voters in a special election to be held no later than 88 days after rendering their decision.
“My guess is that the new council majority is anxious to act on it right away,” Bobkiewicz says.
Santa Paula shot down the first proposal to develop Adams Canyon — which called for more than 2,000 homes — in 2002 and denied a second one asking for far less homes just last year.
Development supporters argue the project would bring more property tax revenue into the city coffers and that developing the canyon would leave the valley floor for use as agricultural land.
Although the last proposal included just as many homes as the current one, Bobkiewicz believes the thinking this time around is that it could win by being more “resident driven” rather than “developer driven,” like the previous measures.
Welcomed with open doors
The Oxnard Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB ) has won a bid for the city to play host to a California Welcome Center, a facility designed to introduce visitors to what Ventura County has to offer.
The 1,800 square foot center, which will be located just off the freeway in Oxnard, will be one of 13 other facilities serving different regions across California, says Janet Sederquist, president of the bureau. It will provide people who are either looking for a place to stay in town or simply stopping by while traveling on Highway 101 with information about the county as well as offering wireless Internet service and regional merchandising, selling everything from Oxnard salsa to Strawberry Festival gifts to items from the Ventura Music Festival.
The OCVB headquarters will move from downtown Oxnard to the site of the new facility, Sederquist says.
According to Sederquist, the new center, which will represent the central coast along with Pismo Beach, is estimated to have a over 100,000 visitors annually. It is expected to have a soft opening in mid- to late February, with a grand opening to follow in March.
Seal of approval
Oxnard’s “city garage” is now a National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence-certified Blue Seal organization.
The city’s Fleet Services Division, which works to maintain the health of city vehicles, was recently awarded an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence, which recognizes the most highly qualified maintenance facilities in the county. Facilities employing at least 75 percent ASE-certified mechanics qualify for the certification. Next to Oxnard, Thousand Oaks is the only other city in the county with a Fleet Services Division bearing a Blue Seal of Excellence.
Bill Birch, Fleet Services Service Manager, says he plans on putting up banners advertising his department’s achievement.
“Our customers are other city employees, and we want to show them we’re trying to provide the best service possible,” he says.