OXNARD — Mayor John Zaragoza’s State of the City address to the West Ventura County Business Alliance on Monday, June 20, continues as the city’s efforts to address potholes on roads.
Public works personnel have repaired over 2,500 potholes over the past nine months as part of the city’s $1.3 million investment in road repairs from the operating budget.
Zaragoza said the city’s infrastructure and natural resources are a priority, and Oxnard invested $6 million to restore parks, medians and trees.
“These investments include more than $2 million awarded to contractors to maintain the city’s medians and parkways, $1.3 million to restore athletic fields and repair our playgrounds, and investments in equipment, to keep up the maintenance,” he said. “We budgeted $1.2 million for tree maintenance contracts. Before measure E, the city could afford to take care of just over 1,500 trees per year. The current budget allows the city to cut down more than 6,600 trees annually out of a total of more than 48,000 trees.”
He said the city council sees public safety as a priority and Oxnard is making progress with its neighborhood policing team.
“This year the department has increased the assigned officers on the team from six to nine and will continue to invest in neighborhood policing,” Zaragoza said. “In 2016, our Police Department created a Homeless Liaison Officer position to support the city’s efforts to resolve encampments, public park issues and business grievances about homelessness.”
He said the liaison officer is specially trained to deal with homelessness-related issues, and since 2016 the position of a single officer had evolved into a homeless liaison unit with four officers, a corporal and a sergeant.
“Over the past year, our homeless liaison officers have responded to more than 4,000 calls, a 60 percent increase over the previous year,” Zaragoza said. “It takes many partners to address the homeless crisis and I am proud of the impact our Police Department has made by investing in the training and growth of this important unit.”
Zaragoza said each week, 50-70 people experiencing homelessness in Oxnard receive assistance from the Oxnard Homeless Shelter and Ventura County.
“The city and its partners helped 66 homeless people receive supportive services and transitional housing during the Ormond Beach cleanup last November,” he said. “We must continue to work together as a community — the city, county, and our nonprofit partners — to address this issue, and we’re making progress. In July we will break ground on the new Homeless Solutions Center in downtown Oxnard. The facility will include 110-bed accommodation and 56 support living units. This project is funded through a partnership with the county and includes state and federal funding to support Oxnard’s efforts to end homelessness.”
He said fire departments remain busy in the city, which continues to grow, and over the past year they have responded to more than 20,000 incidents and taken an average of less than five minutes to respond to emergencies.
“The Fire Service investigated 141 fires that led to 20 arrests for arson in 2021,” Zaragoza said. “The department applied for and received more than $3.4 million in grants for staff, training and equipment. They have also increased the number of Advanced Life Support responses, demonstrating an increasing need for this specialized service for our city.”
Zaragoza said the city continues to address the housing crisis and has funded several downtown projects in 2021 and obtained approval for affordable and market-leading housing projects.
“The City is also making a major investment in South Oxnard with the construction of the South Oxnard Aquatics Center,” he said. “Last year, Senator Monique Limón helped Oxnard secure $5 million from the state to design and build the center. We thank her for her tremendous support of Oxnard.”
According to Zaragoza, over 1,000 community members have provided feedback on the Aquatics Center’s programming, and its designs are based on that feedback.
“We will begin holding community meetings on June 29 to discuss draft designs for the aquatic center based on this feedback,” he said. “There will be another community meeting on August 1 and the City Council will consider a draft design based on this community contribution in September.”
Finally, he said that in addition to the revenue from Measure E, which will be invested in public parks, city employees have also applied for and received more than $18.8 million in grants to revitalize Durley Park to clean up trash and clean up public spaces and invest in seven capital improvement projects, including traffic light modifications at 22 locations, Ramona Preschool intersection improvements, 4th Street mobility improvements, downtown Oxnard transit facilities, Edison Canal Bridge rehabilitation, and rehabilitation of the Mandalay Bay Bridge.
“I have to thank our employees for all the work they are doing to win these grant funding opportunities for Oxnard,” he said.
The 2.3 million square foot Amazon Fulfillment Center is a tremendous asset to the City of Oxnard’s economic development.
“Our staff have listened to feedback from the business community and are working hard to help businesses open and thrive in Oxnard,” Zaragoza said. “The city’s construction and safety team issued an estimated 5,400 building permits through the end of the fiscal year, with an associated value of $150 million in work performed under the permit.”
The City of Oxnard also conducted 25,000 inspections and partnered with Amazon to recruit local talent, resulting in more than 60 percent of Amazon’s new hires coming from Oxnard.
“This is a great example of what we can do in partnership with our business community, and we hope to achieve similar results with the Oxnard Employee Pipeline,” Zaragoza said. “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, in 2020 the city launched the Oxnard Employee Pipeline, which continues to slowly grow in partnership with Oxnard College and the West Ventura County Business Alliance. This program will help our residents gain the skills they need to be employed by the great companies here in Oxnard.”
He said the partnership includes the city’s annual job fairs, and last year they hosted two events at Oxnard College to support local businesses and recruit new employees.
Zaragoza said the city has approved 15 out of 16 cannabis special use permits and six retailers expect to open by October.
The City of Oxnard continues to maintain its finance portal at oxnard.organd Residents can click the Financial Reporting icon.
“Anything you want to know about the city’s finances is here as part of the city’s commitment to fiscal transparency,” he said. “This year, the staff is proposing a general fund reserve of 15 percent. As we learned in the early months of the Covid crisis, having a healthy reserve is vital to the city’s operations.”
This story ends on Friday July 8th.