Ex-rivals lead effort to split Oxnard in two

first_imgOXNARD – While they were campaigning against each other for seats on the Channel Islands Beach Community Services District three years ago, Jonathan Ziv and Keith Moore met at a local deli to talk about their ideas for the board and found they had more in common than they thought. “I happened to mention my vision for a new city, and he said he’d been thinking about the same thing,” Ziv said. “We hit it off from there.” Three years later, Ziv and Moore are the driving force behind a proposal to effectively split Oxnard – Ventura County’s most populous city – by creating a separate city called Channel Islands Beach that would include high-priced homes on the sand but also low-income south Oxnard neighborhoods. It’s a potentially divisive political battle that in some ways mirrors the San Fernando Valley’s unsuccessful 2002 secession bid from Los Angeles. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “The common theme between (our effort) and the Valley secession is the desire for local control,” said Ziv, who lives in Hollywood Beach, has a dental practice in Agoura Hills and who, like Moore, has lived in Oxnard since the 1980s. But another similarity is the flurry of critical, sometimes derisive, rhetoric from cityhood opponents. “A lot of people see it as a group of affluent individuals attempting to create a pure, pristine, elitist community motivated by protecting their property values and driven by racial, ethnic and economic reasons and not much else,” Oxnard activist Armando Vazquez said. Critics say the new city would leave Oxnard with less than half of its current population of 185,000 and financially strapped public services. “I’m not sure it’s feasible to try to create a new city by diminishing an already existing city,” Oxnard City Councilman Andr s Herrera said. “What they say they’re offering is a sense of a better city and better representation. “But it seems to me that the only thing they’re really trying to do is create their own fiefdom.” Those behind the proposal, however, have moved to squelch that kind of criticism by including much of south Oxnard in the new boundaries. The predominantly low-income Latino community has a high poverty rate, large pockets of immigrants and a gang injunction. “The joke around here is that they decided they needed minorities in this (new) city, and they came after us,” said retired city worker Joe Avelar, a Latino community leader on the city’s south side. In essence, what Channel Islands Beach backers have done is trade some of their dream community’s exclusivity for political clout – the ever-growing Latino voter bloc they hope to attract if they are to get a vote on the issue. And their common ground is long-standing gripes about lack of representation at City Hall, which the new-city campaign is addressing with individual council districts, an attractive incentive to voters who currently elect council members at large. New city leaders are hoping Latinos in the proposed Channel Islands Beach, as well as in Oxnard as a whole, will be like Avelar, who will be attracted to the idea of electing his own council representative. “If we could get (single-member) districts, I would vote for the new city, problems and all,” said Avelar, chairman of the Lemonwood Neighborhood Council in south Oxnard. The proposed city would stretch from Oxnard’s wealthiest areas in Mandalay Bay and River Ridge to its working-class neighborhoods of Southwinds and Lemonwood into south Oxnard. It also would include the unincorporated communities of Hollywood Beach, Hollywood by the Sea and Silver Strand. “What has motivated us is bringing forth new leadership into the community,” said Moore, an emissions technology engineer. “One of the things that I think was learned from the Valley secession was that, although it failed, it resulted in changes. The city (of Los Angeles) had to listen to the complaints that led to the secession attempt and to take a look at itself.” Ziv is even more direct in saying what he thinks is the problem in the current present city. “It’s an issue of local control,” he said. “The city of Oxnard is not exactly an example of local control as many people would like. My belief is that people in south Oxnard are no happier about local control than the people in other communities.” The phenomenon of poor community helping rich community is not lost on California Lutheran University political science professor Herbert Gooch, a longtime observer of Ventura County politics. “They are indeed very different kinds of groups, and single-member districts may be a great incentive for voting for the new city,” he said. “The irony is that by adding south Oxnard, the new city would grow to 121,000 people, and Oxnard would be left a smaller rump city but with industrialized areas and split up services. “My own sense is, it would be a stretch to create this new city. It’s a long, complicated process, and I think it would be very difficult.” The process would require a series of consultants, studies, evaluations and approval by county agencies, gathering 8,750 signatures – about 25percent of registered voters in the proposed city – and, ultimately, elections before both voters in the proposed city and Oxnard. It also would cost an estimated $300,000, new-city proponents said, for an election they concede could not take place before 2010. Critics call all of it a pipe dream. Oxnard City Manager Ed Sotelo said he is concerned about how the new city would pay for police, fire and other government services. Ziv and Moore maintain their city would provide more police, fire protection and other services without higher taxes – something they say they could do by focusing on existing sales, property and hotel taxes. Gooch said he thinks the cityhood issue in Oxnard is symptomatic of it becoming the fastest-growing city in the county. “You might describe Oxnard as the 800-pound gorilla of the county,” he said. “As there has been a big development of business and the economy, a number of areas feel left out and are feeling somewhat ignored.” The Oxnard City Council has not taken an official position on the proposal. But any doubt about where officials stand might have been erased by the director of development services, Matt Winegar, who accused new-city leaders of gerrymandering boundaries. “It’s a map,” Winegar said, “that would make a New Jersey politician proud.” The only certainty at the moment is that the issue is not going away, and some say it will likely gain steam as Ziv and Moore become politically shrewd in how they present their idea, particularly in south Oxnard. To that end, Vazquez said he is certain the new-city issue will soon become a topic of discussion and debate at his Caf on A Street, which works with at-risk Latino youths. “This began as a prima facie racist, economic mercenary idea,” he said. “There was a racial divide, an economic divide, and it was all quite political what they’ve done in including south Oxnard. “And what it’s all saying is that a lot of people on the City Council are not listening to the voices of the people.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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