After months of granting concessions for the building of a California State University campus on property being donated by a developer along Victoria Avenue, Oxnard city officials laid down a demand of their own.
As part of an eleventh-hour pitch for an expansion of Cal State's cramped extension facility in Ventura, they demanded Tuesday that the campus house a four-year university rather than, in the words of Councilman Michael A. Plisky, "some Quonset hut."
"No university," Plisky said, "no deal."
In a heated meeting Tuesday, the Oxnard City Council unanimously voted to press Cal State to commit to the construction of a four-year university within a year "after approvals and funding are obtained" for the institution.
Concessions Too Great
They argued that the city would be giving up too much in development concessions that would involve up to 435 acres of prime agricultural lands for the university to build anything other than a full, permanent campus.
The conditions were spelled out in a document requested by university officials who wanted to learn the city's expectations for the proposed university site, City Manager David Mora said. The site, located at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Gonzales Road, is vying for the campus with Taylor Ranch, a coastal bluff in Ventura.
The race for the campus, which city officials believe will bring prestige and economic benefits to the community that lands it, is expected to be decided Tuesday by Cal State trustees. While Cal State officials have indicated that the campus may one day become the site of a four-year university, they have been "a bowl full of Jell-O as to their timetable," Mora said.
Cal State Deputy Provost Jack Smart, who serves as the university system's spokeman on the Ventura campus, was not available Wednesday morning for comment.
Oxnard City Council members said Tuesday's "no university, no deal" rule will also apply to the developer who is donating land for the site, Ag Land Services of Somis, in exchange for development concessions on 140 surrounding acres.
Council members also said that development adjoining the campus cannot outpace the construction by the university, although they said the specific restrictions will have to be spelled out at a later date.
"I don't want a situation where we end up with 132 acres with a sign on it saying, 'Home of a Future University,' and all these new homes around it," Plisky said.
Tuesday's document also provides for the acquisition at "below market rate" of an additional 80 acres believed necessary for a four-year institution. Under the proposed arrangement, the owners of the 80 acres, Ag Land Services and a third party, would turn over the $3.1-million swath in exchange for the abandoned Ormond Beach site of the city's defunct composting project.
The university would be obligated to pay only the amount that it cost the city to acquire the land with a bond, the document said, or roughly $2 million. However, City Atty. K. Duane Lyders said Tuesday that the city could turn over the 79-acre Ormond Beach site for less than the amount of the bond if the campus were perceived as being of "sufficient public purpose."
In exchange for development concessions on 180 acres surrounding the proposed campus, the land developer in November proposed donating 100 acres south of Gonzales Road for the campus but has since raised the ante an additional 32 acres, which in combination with the other 80 acres, would provide a 212-acre site north of Gonzales Road on Victoria Avenue.
The property that Agland plans to develop, meanwhile, has dropped by 40 acres and a third party, a conglomerate of farmers in the area, plan to develop 83 surrounding acres.