Oxnard Urged to Meet Its Housing Goal : Growth: Task force says city should build 900 affordable homes by 1996.
Oxnard needs to build more than 900 affordable dwellings by 1996 to meet its own housing goals, and the homes need to cost much less than the city has proposed, a city task force has concluded.
The Oxnard Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee, made up of local business and community leaders, found that the city could--and should--build 600 low-cost homes in the next five years by redirecting federal and redevelopment funds.
Oxnard could meet its housing objectives by giving developers more incentives to build affordable homes in the city, according to the task force report adopted Monday.
But some Oxnard officials said the city is already doing its best to promote affordable housing.
“We’re trying to create situations to make it possible for more affordable housing to be built,” Councilman Andres Herrera said. “We’re really trying to do everything we can.”
Herrera added that the committee has unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished in the near future.
“Sometimes these committees get full of themselves,” Herrera said. “When ad hoc committees try to become policy-makers, they get a little out of hand. I’m interested to see what their recommendations are.”
The committee was created by the City Council a year ago to draft a five-year affordable housing plan. Its members were asked to review city funds available for housing, previous attempts to build low-cost homes and sites for such projects.
The final committee report concluded that:
* Even after accounting for Housing and Urban Development funds, Oxnard’s farm workers and other poor residents need city subsidies of up to $50,000 to bridge the gap between their incomes and the cost of buying the cheapest house.
* The city urgently needs to provide a homeless shelter.
* Oxnard needs to appoint a low-income housing expediter to work with the city manager to shepherd projects through the bureaucracy.
* The production of affordable housing should be reviewed every six months at a City Council public hearing.
* The city should change design requirements in low-income housing tracts to entice developers, such as allowing narrower streets and more houses per acre.
“We’ve done our job, now the city needs to do theirs,” said committee member Barbara Macri-Ortiz, an attorney for Channel Counties Legal Services Assn.
But Councilman Tom Holden said the current City Council has helped push five affordable housing developments: Donlon Avenue, the Farmers’ Market, the Kojima site and two projects in the downtown area.
“There are limited funds and incentives to create a truly affordable housing development,” Holden said. “I don’t see a lot of developers rushing to do that. I think we’ve made some advances.”
Oxnard has made strides in its effort to create moderately priced houses, creating 453 of the 600 homes the city had pledged to build in recent years.
But it has yet to build any of the 425 dwellings it has pledged for very low-income residents and has constructed none of the 403 dwellings planned for low-income residents, the committee found.
The committee wants to report its findings to the City Council and Planning Commission in a joint session within a few weeks.
“This is a problem that has been here a while, and we have to wrestle with it,” committee Chairman Arthur Joe Lopez said. “Until we do, it won’t go away.”