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Principal Planner Doug Spondello goes over the revised proposal for the new Oxnard Union High School. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Friday, March 22, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard— The Oxnard City Council held a pre-application review of the East Village Development Project, March 19, located at the northeast corner of Rose Avenue and Camino Del Sol.


The applicant wanted comments and feedback from the council that includes a review of the development site map and preliminary comments for the master planning of the 107-acre project site.


The area will have parks, a high school, residential homes, commercial development, and a civic center act agreement.


Planning Department Principal Planner Doug Spondello told the council that East Village is proposed by Parkstone Companies and the Oxnard Union High School District.


He pointed out the item is not an application, but a conceptual plan for future development.


“The project was presented previously to the city council on Dec. 18, and the developer has updated the proposal to align with the council, the comments that were made and now requests a follow-up review on three specific topics,” he said. 


He wanted feedback on the project’s density and land-use design, the public use of Oxnard Union High School Facilities, pursuant to a civic center act agreement, and the overall parks and open space concept.


“The 2030 general plan designation on the site is an urban village, and that includes a variety of uses, like low to medium residential, park space, and general commercial,” he said. “The northeast community-specific plans include low-density residential and neighborhood commercial development on the site.”


The December update included 592 residential units, including 62 single-family homes, he said, and the density ranged from 8.5 to 30 units per acre.


“A 21,000 commercial center was located at the southwest corner of the lot,” he said. “The proposed high school was for 2,300 students, and also offered 14.2 acres of playfields and sports facilities to the city through a joint-use agreement. A total of 5.6 acres of public parks and open space was spread out across planning areas one and three.”


The revised pre-application includes three planning areas, he said, that generally matches the boundaries of the previous proposal.


Planning area A has been expanded to include 750 to 900 residential units, and no single-family development is proposed,” Spondello said. “The commercial center has also been relocated to the northeast corner of this property at Rose Avenue and Cesar Chavez. To the east of this site, a 5.4-acre public park is proposed as an addition to the existing East Village Park, and that brings the total size of that park to 11.4 acres.”


Additionally, he said 3.1 acres of paseos and enhanced street frontage is proposed as an internal linkage across the urban village.


"Planning area B now includes a 2,500-student high school with more capacity than before, as well as 23-acres of open space, recreational facilities and parking that are proposed to be accessible to the public and organized groups according to a civic center act agreement,” he said. ”These amenities include a variety of courts and fields, plus the aquatic facility.”  


Spondello said the civic center act allows the use of the facilities and grounds as a civic center and the district can charge the user a fee, but it may not exceed the school district’s cost for maintenance or site restoration.


“Alternatively, the joint-use agreement previously proposed, involved an up-front payment by the city or the community facilities district for initial development costs, as well as reoccurring payments for maintenance,” he said. “The civic center agreement proposes no up-front or ongoing costs to the city if the individual sports teams or other groups reserving these facilities would be required to reimburse the district, but only for expenses associated with that use. The school district has an extensive history of operating facilities, according to the Spondello, and said the group is proposing 50 to 200 affordable multi-family housing units that represent 17 to 27 percent of the overall project.


“District C also includes a one-acre park designed around the Maulhardt Farmhouse, as well as two acres of paseos and street frontage,” he said. 


Entitlements needed to develop the project include a general plan amendment, a specific planning zone change subdivision map, development entitlements, and an accompanying environmental review.


“The project now includes 6.4 acres of parks, 5.4 at East Village Park and 1 acre at the farmhouse,” he said. “There are 5.5 acres of enhanced street frontages, and paseos provided within the project, in addition to the 20.3 acres of school district facilities, pursuant to the civic center agreement.”


Taken together, Spondello said there are 32.2 acres of park space within the development.


The developer proposes that it’s an adequate alternative to the 30-acre park identified in the 2030 general plan.


Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the Oxnard Union High School District Jeffrey Weinstein told the council that he is in charge of building the new high school.


His primary function means providing a safe school environment and a safe working environment for employees while providing a safe environment and educational outcomes that serve the communities around the schools in a fiscally safe manner.


“Currently, our situation is we have seven comprehensive high schools, all of which are either at capacity or over capacity,” he said. “Three of our comprehensive high schools are in the Oxnard area and are over capacity by 1,600 students, and these students will be allowed to transfer to the new high school, and we are looking to mitigate this overage by building the new high school.”


He pointed out the Oxnard school district is one of the few that is growing in Ventura County which is projected for the next five years.


“This growth is going to be over 500 students in the next five years,” he said. “We get these numbers from our feeder schools, and we also know about the housing developments in the surrounding areas.


In June 2018, he said the area stakeholders approved a $350 million bond to mitigate the overcrowding and build the state-of-the-art school with 270,000 new square feet of construction.


“It will have 47-acres, 735 parking space capacity, full athletic venues, and 93 teaching stations for our education,” Weinstein said. “Part of our athletic venues will be soccer, track-and-field, football, baseball fields, softball fields, and an aquatic center. Those are our outdoor venues.”


On the inside, he said the new high school would have a gymnasium and a performing arts center with 450 seats.


One unique part of the Oxnard Union High School District, he said, is it offers, career education programs, academic programs, and career education pathways at all seven comprehensive high schools.


“These pathways are numerous, and the high schools can offer all these pathways,” Weinstein said. “One of the things we have is an inter-district transfer policy the board has put in place, which allows any student a transfer to any high school if their home high school does not have the education career pathway or educational program they would like to study. We are also one of the few high schools that offer transportation from any of these high schools to the high school they would like to attend.”


This story will continue in the March 29, edition.