Oxnard’s Second Public Pool

More than just a dip

by Ray Blattel

A recent VC Star article on 1 August 2021 stated Oxnard was to receive $5M to build the city’s second public pool.  As stated in the article, the $5M is just a kick start for the pool – the preliminary estimate put the price tag at $40M with the city tentatively planning to take out a bond to spread the costs.

Now, no one can argue another public pool or aquatic center would be beneficial or at least nice to have for all Oxnard residents.  However, as currently planned, this $5M injection will certainly turn into much more future costs for the taxpayer in the form of bonds not to mention the annual operations and maintenance cost of a large aquatic center.  This $5M will surely translate into many more millions in future commitments for the citizens of Oxnard and could very likely become another albatross around our necks.  Do we really need to burden ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren with even more financial commitments?

Furthermore, the city of Oxnard has already saddled its residents with a never-ending 1.5 percent sales tax increase making Oxnard’s sales taxes some of the highest in the State.  How much more blood can be squeezed from the turnip?  A new aquatic center development also flies in the face of the recommendations found in the recent Parks and Recreation Master Plan which cost Oxnard residents $325,000.  The updated Master Plan suggested no new amenities until the existing parks and recreation facilities and amenities are renovated and repaired.  Essentially, take care of what you have first prior to building more – if you can’t afford what you currently have, why take on more?

In addition, it is explained in the article that the aquatic center would consist of multiple pools.  These pools will require many hundreds of thousands of gallons of water for the initial filling not to mention the water needed to replenish what is lost due to evaporation during what is becoming all the more common, hot and dry summer months.

Ironically, in this same issue of the VC Star, there are two articles describing the dire drought conditions here is California – “Thousands at risk of running out of water” (page 9A) and “Water officials must sound alarm” (page 12A).  The articles mention that the state is struggling with its worst drought since at least 1977 and a long, hot dry summer is expected.  And throw into the mix the typical wildfires which exacerbate the already stressed water systems, it could be very difficult for some systems to survive.  The drought conditions of five years ago have returned and the underlying conditions are even worse now than those experienced five years ago.  The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and member agencies which include the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County have not yet imposed mandatory cutbacks nor have they yet restricted allocations.  However, there is no telling how long this drought will last, but, as the article suggests, now is the moment for all cities and water agencies to send a strong and clear message that now is the time to use water sparingly. 

Furthermore, even as the drought surrounds us, Ventura County cities continue to develop new housing communities.  Consider the “mini-city” called Wagon Wheel in Oxnard.  How much water will these new residences need?  Yes, we desperately do need housing; however, one must consider where are we going to secure the resources needed to service this new housing and its residents?  Raising water rates does nothing when there is no water to purchase.

One more thing.  As stated in the article, the city of Oxnard currently has only one public pool.  However, how many high schools in the Oxnard school district already have pools?  The new high school being constructed at Camino Del Sol and Rose in Oxnard is projected to have a pool and the newer Pacifica High School may likely get a pool.  The point is – there are multiple existing pools in the area which are perhaps under-utilized or could be used to service the community during open schedules.  And who are paying for these pools?  The taxpayers have paid and continue to pay via bonds on our collective property tax bills.  One easy solution to solve this public pool issue is to open these multiple pools at the high schools for use by the public.  The pools at our high schools already exist, we are paying for them and will continue to do so, so why can’t we – the public and taxpayers – use them?

Perhaps the relationship and/or cooperation levels between the city and the Oxnard school district are less than ideal.  However, this doesn’t mean that this couldn’t be improved.  Maybe there is some middle ground where both parties could be satisfied.  At a minimum, the two parties could and should sit down and discuss the differences and perhaps a compromise is possible.  One never knows unless one tries.

No one probably disagrees – an aquatic center would certainly be nice.  But is this what we need at this time?  Are there no other alternatives to achieve the same objective?  I certainly have suggested one which certainly could and should be entertained.

Ray Blattel is a resident of the City of Oxnard and a concerned Citizen. 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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Douglas Partello

The lack of maintenance of public landscaping, parks, roads and alleys in Oxnard give some indication of how well a very expensive pool(s) will be maintained. We may end up with a $50 million dollar skate park when the pool is left unmaintained, and dry.