Public comment at Oxnard Planning Commission on 7-Eleven gas station project

On September 19, 2019, Oxnard’s Planning Commission heard a request to turn a four-story commercial building at Saviers and Channel Islands into a 7-Eleven and gas station. Below is my public comment preceding their unanimous denial, lightly edited from the video (1:53:24). My tweet thread has more context.

People talk a lot about about fossil fuel infrastructure in this country, and Oxnard, and Ventura County, and California. Usually this makes you think of oil rigs and smoke stacks, but this project you are looking at today, this is fossil fuel infrastructure. This gas station would contribute to climate change. It would contribute to air pollution. Air pollution alone kills 100,000 Americans every year. Another 30,000 die in car crashes. 10,000 of those are from drunk driving. That’s about 100 people in Oxnard every year who are killed from activities that this project will specifically contribute to.

I don’t blame the landowner or the applicant for engaging in this type of transaction, but we have to look at why it’s happening in a place like Oxnard, where there’s great demand for housing and other uses of land. It’s clear that this transaction would not have happened if this site was zoned for housing. A housing development the height of the current building could mean homes for 100 families, instead of a gas station across the street from another gas station and with alcohol served exactly as drivers get in and out of their cars. A housing developer would gladly pay more for the land to build those homes.

I don’t like rejecting individual projects to get exactly what you want, but I think this is an opportunity to rezone the site or commit to a zoning variance for something like housing, and to give a developer a shot at something more productive. Hopefully we can consider doing something on a broader scale as well, to make sure that these types of deals aren’t the best thing that landowners have at their disposal.

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2900 Saviers Road, right, is currently a four-story Citibank, proposed to be replaced with a 7-Eleven and a gas station. A Chevron station, left, is across the street.

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Written by

Economist. Founder and president of the UBI Center. Studied at MIT and UC Berkeley. YIMBY. Former Google data scientist.

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