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Survey Rates Oxnard With Friendliest Business Climate

Which of Ventura County’s largest cities has the friendliest business climate?

In terms of lures offered to attract new employers, Oxnard wins hands-down, according to a study just completed by Kosmont & Associates Inc., a Sherman Oaks real estate consulting firm.

But while Oxnard ranks among the 12 top cities in Southern California as to the number of incentives offered to new businesses, other Ventura County cities charge lower taxes in the long run, the study shows.

Oxnard entices newcomers with lease subsidies, relocation cost assistance, sales tax rebates, other tax allowances, real estate purchase subsidies and loans to developers. In addition, Oxnard has an aggressive Redevelopment Agency, which recently sold a large parcel of downtown land to developers for $100 on condition that low-priced housing be built on the site.

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Among the county’s five largest cities, Simi Valley comes closest to Oxnard in new business recruitment with three types of inducements, the study reports.

Thousand Oaks ranks last. It offers none of the lures except for help in connection with redevelopment projects. But Thousand Oaks goes easy on up-front entitlement fees that developers must often pay to ease traffic, sewage and other problems that their projects create.

For construction of a hypothetical 100,000-square-foot office building, Thousand Oaks would require only $19,000 in entitlement fees, Kosmont estimates. Developers of the same project would be charged $1.6 million in Los Angeles and nearly $600,000 in Calabasas, according to the study.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean Thousand Oaks is the place to go to develop an office building,” says Larry J. Kosmont, the consulting firm’s president. “We found that the permitting process is extremely cumbersome and time-consuming there.”

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Aside from concessions offered to new arrivals, Kosmont found that Ventura, not Oxnard, has the county’s lowest downstream business taxes. In practically all cities, tax bills are determined by highly complex formulas.

Ventura County, incidentally, has Southern California’s highest tax rate for businesses in unincorporated county areas, the survey shows.

“One thing we found is that there’s a tremendous variation among cities and counties as to the kinds of fees and incentives that apply to business,” Kosmont said. “If there were uniformity, that alone would help business people a great deal.”


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