The consultant hired to develop a new brand for Oxnard recommends building an “international city” theme, centering the downtown area around a “public market,” and changing the city’s name to “Oxnard Shores.”
Those were the highlights of a July 22 presentation by Roger Brooks of Destination Development International, the “destination branding” firm hired by the Oxnard Convention and Visitors Bureau to develop a new identity for Oxnard. Brooks has called the city “the most mis-branded” he’s ever worked with, noting that even people just an hour away in Los Angeles don’t know that Oxnard is on the coast.
Brooks’ presentation, at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach hotel, called for a five-year commitment to building Oxnard’s new brand.
“We can’t roll it out now,” he said. “We can’t tell people we’re the international city until all this is done. We think it will be five years before you can start saying, we’re the international city.”
The centerpiece of Brooks’ proposed strategy is downtown Oxnard. He said the city should have a 100,000-square-foot market just south of Plaza Park, with vendors selling locally grown and prepared food and other products. A few blocks away, A Street should be a “dining district,” he said.
And then there’s the name change — or the “augment,” in Brooks’ terms. The switch he described, to “Oxnard Shores,” would be somewhat subtle. The City Council just needs to pass a resolution and pay a $100 fee to the state to make the change official. Signs, stationery and other materials could be changed gradually as they need to be replaced.
Any change to the city’s name is a political mine field in Oxnard, but the crowd at the Mandalay hotel ballroom greeted Brooks’ suggestion with a round of applause.
Afterward, Mayor Tom Holden said he thought Brooks’ suggestions were feasible. The city and private developers already own about 75 percent of the downtown property that Brooks suggested for a market, Holden said, and they’re working on buying the rest.
As for the name, the fact that Brooks recommends keeping the word “Oxnard” means his proposal has a shot, Holden said.
“I wouldn’t support a complete name change,” he said. “But I was born and raised here, and I can live with ‘Oxnard Shores.’ The fact that people don’t know we’re on the beach, that’s a problem.”