By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The Oxnard City Council approved the first reading by title only and waived further reading of an ordinance amending the River Park Specific Plan Sign Standards, Feb. 6.
The agreement paves the way for two monument signs in planning districts B and C.
Planning & Environmental Services Manager Kathleen Mallory brought the amendment to the council and said section 5.933 changes the River Park Specific Plan to allow two future signs.
Additionally, she said there are two modifications, and there is no construction proposed with the application, currently.
“The two new monument signs that are proposed to be constructed down the road will not be visible from the freeway,” she said. “The sign area, structure size, and the sign content will conform with the existing monument signs near the freeway. There are no new regulations created with this proposal.”
The project in the River Park Landing Area is zoned commercial, convention, hotel, she said, and the land-use is commercial regional.
“The text amendment is the addition of commercial district to the freeway-oriented monument sign section,” she said. “With that, that would then allow the two monument signs in the district and identify those locations (on the map) in district B and C.”
The permit for those future signs is consistent with what is in the specific plan, called a design development review, she said. The proposal does not change the regulations currently in the code.
“Future signs can be up to 20 feet tall, with a maximum of 320 feet per side,” Mallory said. The project is compliant with the specific plan, and there is no environmental impact.”
The River Park Environmental Impact Report received certification in 2012, she said, and they prepared an addendum to show there is no environmental impact on the environment because of the construction.
The project had two community workshops before it came to the planning commission on Nov. 18, 2018, and two people attended and didn’t comment or have concerns.
“We did receive correspondence from a resident from Riverpark who was asking questions about the value of future signs and the need for the future sign, but the commenter did not express support or opposition to the two new proposed signs,” she said. “He did express some concern about the potential visual impact the signs, in general, have.”
The planning commission voted 5-0 on Dec. 6, to support the specific plan amendment.
Ann Walsh from Shea Properties in Oxnard spoke on behalf of the project and said the retail site facing Towne Center Drive is loaded and the hotels and a senior living facility will face the freeway.
“The hotels have four stories, and the senior living has two stories, which effectively blocks any visibility for the retail component that is adjacent to Towne Center Drive,” she said. “In our quest to look for tenants and working with our tenants, that has come to our attention as being a significant issue in their decision making for this particular site. Especially, as it relates to some of the areas near us, specifically The Esplanade and areas within that area with some availabilities these days and there is ample opportunity for signage.”
Walsh isn’t asking for freeway visibility, but the second-best place visibility, the intersection of Towne Center Drive and Oxnard Boulevard as people enter The Collection Shopping Center at the rate of 41,000 trips per day.
“The other sign location is on the western side of the site, which is at the corner of Ventura Road and Towne Center Drive,” she said. ”That is a great secondary location because it gets about 27,000 trips per day.”
The project will not have LED screens or flashing signs, she said, and will have tenant panels that identify who does business in the shopping center.
“As you get off the freeway, you have an opportunity to decide am I going to The Collection or am I going to The Landing,” she said.
The sign will be in the far-right corner when you get off the freeway and head towards The Collection, she said, and is “barely visible” at that point.
“The key is that depending on why you are coming to the shopping centers, or the hotels, or any of the retail in The Landing, you will have no idea that is in there unless you’ve been there for another reason,” she said. “This is a critical request to get the opportunity for the signage.”
She said the River Park Neighborhood Council meeting supported the project.
“We did this PowerPoint presentation and had a question and answer session,” she said. “At that meeting, they did support the request for signage.”
During Council comments, Oscar Madrigal said it is necessary to promote the item for businesses in the area because anyone who’s driven in the area knows it won't be visible.
“Anything to help them out would be appreciated,” he said. “I’m all for this.”
Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez supports the item, and she asked Walsh to make it beautiful.
“Thank you for meeting with the River Park residents,” she said.
Councilman Bryan MacDonald said he read there is a brasca steakhouse coming, which is a Brazilian Steakhouse.
“This will be a benefit to everyone that lives in the area that will be able to go with it, but the people we need to capture are the ones driving up and down the freeway on the way home at 5 p.m. and get a little bit hungry,” he said.
Councilman Bert Perello asked why they don’t make the shopping center visible from the freeway.
“When we are talking about the signs that will have restrictions, who calls the shots on the restrictions and what are the limits,” he said. “Before I vote on this, I would like to know what we do and don’t allow.”
Mallory said they are not changing the development standard.
Perello asked if they can do something to make it better for the City of Oxnard taxwise because people won’t be able to see the center.
Mallory said if you want to wheel and deal about the height of the sign, they would need to changes to the specific plan.
City Manager Alex Nguyen said he does not to wheel-and-deal during open session.
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