Public comment supporting rezoning Riverpark districts to residential in Oxnard
I gave the following public comment at tonight’s Oxnard City Council meeting, regarding a proposal to rezone commercial districts of the mixed-use Riverpark neighborhood to allow 1,025 apartments. The Oxnard Planning Commission suggested allowing only 613 apartments.
Good evening Mayor Zaragoza, City Councilmembers, and City Staff,
You know all the ordinary reasons to approve this housing. You know that we’re in a dire housing shortage that’s driving up housing costs, homelessness, and displacement. You know that we need these homes to provide customers for businesses at the Collection, so they can hire members of our community. You know that if these 1,025 families can’t live here, most will live in homes that are less walkable to services and opportunities, that require them to drive farther, and that deny them the quality of life that many speakers tonight enjoy. You knew all that when you approved housing at this site in the General Plan, and all those reasons still hold today.
But these are not ordinary times, so it’s not just the ordinary reasons that matter, and I’d like to offer another. Five of my eight great-grandparents were born in Ukraine. Millions of my brothers and sisters are now fleeing an imperialist warlord, and the consequences are devastating to Ukrainians, Russians, and people around the world.
There’s no single reason why Putin felt empowered to invade Ukraine, but there’s one many of us are feeling every time we fill our tank. We need his oil. Now we’re having to choose the least bad autocrat to feed our addiction: Vladimir Putin who threatens nuclear war? Muhammad bin Salman who murders journalists? Nicolas Maduro who starves his own people?
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can let people walk and bike to jobs and services, instead of relying on oil to get everywhere. We can let them live in walkable communities like Riverpark. This would be a small step, but if cities around the country did the same, we could support foreign leaders for improving the world, not just feeding our dependence on fossil fuels.
So please, imagine that these thousand families are all here today. They’re asking to live in Riverpark, to walk to the Collection instead of drive there, to make our community more vibrant and our country more safe. Please say yes, not just to a few of them, but to all of them. Thank you.