Tony Grey Chairman, Oxnard Planning Commission I agree it's a problem. On the Planning Commission we've received reports that show it's certainly a problem, and it's being addressed by the City Council. The staff has been asked to look into the seriousness of it and come up with some recommendations. As for solutions, our General Plan is addressing this exact situation--the proper planning for the number of dwelling units that should be built in the city of Oxnard to provide for the housing needs of the population in different economic levels such as itinerant farm workers, handicapped, seniors and those of low and moderate income. All of us know that the reason many people share one dwelling unit is because they can't afford to rent an apartment, let alone buy a house because of the soaring cost of the housing units. The only solution we can offer, and we're attempting to do as a Planning Commission, is in our General Plan. The city of Oxnard can't afford to subsidize low-income homes other than offering incentives to developers to develop a certain percentage of their project for low- or moderate-income people. Certainly we have to look to federal grants and federal assistance as well when it comes to providing housing assistance. All of the city officials are really concerned about this problem and we're looking for some answers.
George Lauterbach President, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce and partner in Dial Services The issue has been somewhat ill-defined when we talk about low-income and affordable. I think the real problem is taking care of our own so that they can get their first place to buy and start building equity.
It's come to a point that the American dream is not a reality any more because young people can't get into the housing pipeline. The average home is in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. The problem as I see it really has to do more with availability than a lot of other things. The conflict we have here is the prioritization between preserving agricultural land or using that land to build housing for people. I don't think I would be the one to encourage or advocate this, but if we opened up the farm ground and started building housing, the housing prices would drop like a rock. Everyone thinks about the migrant farm workers who come from Mexico and don't have a place to live. That's a true concern. But over the years there have been programs for the poor. The point I'm trying to make is the group we're forgetting about is our own kids. As a practical solution, the government has the right to control land use through zoning. The city can establish areas where the zoning is set so that it's known to everyone up front that this property will be zoned for affordable housing. Also, there's probably a good $50,000 in fees that have to be paid. You could defer those fees. Or, you could say as long as this stays in a low-income mode, these fees are exempted.