Oxnard Council Resolves Kojima Land Deal
The Oxnard City Council decided in a special meeting Thursday to close escrow on a $5.32-million land deal, despite the presence of DDT and other agricultural pesticides on the property.
Following the advice of the city attorney and special counsel, the council approved several amendments to its agreement with real estate speculator Donald T. Kojima. The changes allow for the close of escrow before the completion of environmental audits on the 41-acre property.
The original agreement said that Kojima had to remove, or pay the city to remove, all pollutants on the land before the close of escrow.
But environmental testing by two consultants led to contradictory conclusions about the level of contamination on the site, said City Manager Tom Frutchey, and a final pollution analysis could take several months.
Under the amended agreement, Kojima will be required to pay for any necessary cleanup if the environmental tests show that the land is contaminated with hazardous levels of DDT or any other pesticides, said special counsel Margaret Sohagi.
And Kojima will also have the unusual option of rescinding the deal and giving the city its money back, Sohagi said.
Why would Oxnard make such a deal?
The city is eager to close escrow because it had agreed to advance hundreds of thousands of dollars to the financially troubled Kojima to pay interest on loans he took out on the property.
“Every passing day we’re paying more interest on the outstanding loans on this property,” Frutchey said. “We’re taking one step forward and two steps backward.”
Kojima said he does not expect a cleanup to be necessary, and will not rescind the deal regardless.
“We wanted to see the transaction consummated, and we are happy that it was,” Kojima said. “We’ll do whatever cleanup is necessary.”