Oxnard's Historic District needs to be revamped or dissolved.

Oxnard's Historic District needs to be revamped or dissolved.

June 3, 2022
Signatures: 86Next Goal: 100
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Why this petition matters

Started by Eric Andrist

The Henry T Oxnard Historic District in downtown Oxnard was founded in 1999 when a VERY small group of property owners decided they wanted control over other historic properties to make sure they weren't ruined (ie turned into apartments or their historic integrity obliterated). OK, that was all well and good. 

BUT, out of the 140 houses that ended up in the district, only 33 of the property owners consented to it actually happening. 5 houses opted out all together and the rest didn't even participate in the vote. So only about 21% of the houses that would be affected made the decision for everyone else. 

The City of Oxnard pays the County of Ventura $50,000 (over 5 years) to manage the Cultural Heritage Board program that oversees any improvements or changes property owners want to make to their historic homes. The City doesn't chalk that amount up to a necessary financial responsibility to have such a district they can be proud of, no, they turn around and charge the property owners fees for every little thing they want to do to their own properties. From planting trees, putting in picket fences, and even installing sprinklers, homeowners have to get a "Certificate of Appropriateness" and pay a fee (anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to well over $2000) so the City of Oxnard can make that money back. 

Because many of the homeowners can't afford to be nickel and dimed to death, don't want to deal with all the lengthy red tape and paper work, or the cliquish "board" who thinks they know better what a homeowner should do with their own property, many property owners just do the work on the sly, without permits, often using unlicensed contractors, which can open a whole other can of worms, especially if they go to sell their house.

Jump ahead 22 years and this historic district has fallen into disrepair with many of the houses avoiding the process all together. Houses now have non-historic PVC fencing, modern fountains, satellite dishes and skylights on their roofs, non-historic window and door replacements, modern garage doors, etc. 

And you know what? They should be able to do that...it's their house! It's not like we live in Historic Boston where the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is Oxnard. Yes, some of the houses are wonderfully beautiful. Some other within the district, not so much.  A much too large portion of them aren't even that interesting and aren't well taken care of. Other homes on adjacent streets are just as wonderful, but aren't included in the historic district. Owners on those streets can do anything they want to their houses and not have to pay fees for permission to do so. 

So please sign this petition to tell the City Council of Oxnard that the program either needs to be overhauled in favor of the homeowners who actually live in the district, or dissolved altogether. If the City can't sponsor the program without charging property owners these extortion fees, they shouldn't have the district. 

But, if they can agree to changes to the rules and fees, there would be no problem keeping the status. 

And lastly, every new homeowner needs to be made 100% aware of what is expected of them when purchasing a house in the district. Too many new homeowners aren't told about the rules and the fees and find out once it's too late. The new owners of the Henry Levy House at Second and G are in that predicament right now. 

Homeowners need to be encouraged and helped by the City to improve their properties, which would include financial incentives, not extortion fees. A larger "board" should be formed made up of actual homeowners in the district who actually have a stake in living here, not unqualified bureaucrats who don't even have education in historic homes. And the rules should cover only the structures themselves, not what people do in their yards....yards aren't historic, the houses are. No one should be told they can or can't plant a tree or install a picket fence. No one should be told they have to endure old creaky windows instead of being able to install energy efficient dual paned windows. 

The historic concerns should only be related to making sure the structures themselves retain the historic integrity they were built with as best as possible. And frankly, that's not always possible. 

But it's no one else's business, but the property owners themselves. Busy body neighbors should not have a say what someone else does to their properties....within reason. 

So if you agree, please sign this petition.  If you disagree, this historic district will continue to decay as property owners continue to ignore the system, and the City and County will continue to stick their head in the sand and allow it to happen. 

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Signatures: 86Next Goal: 100
Support now