Oxnard has threatened to use eminent domain proceedings to evict a longtime tenant, Pacific Oaks Credit Union, from a troubled property known as Carriage Square.
That strikes us as a harsh way to treat a financial institution that’s an important part of the lifeblood of the region’s largest city, and we’d urge the city, property owner Upside Oxnard LLC and Pacific Oaks to work out a deal — without kicking the credit union to the curb.
Relocating Pacific Oaks, which counts some 25,000 area residents among its members, has become a knotty problem for city officials. They see the redevelopment of Carriage Square, including the building of a new Lowe’s home improvement center, as crucial to generating sales tax revenue.
But Pacific Oaks has spurned offers by Upside Oxnard to relocate the credit union’s C Street branch to a new location.
The credit union is headquartered in Camarillo and operates branches in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. It has its roots in serving Port Hueneme and Oxnard, and it argues that the C Street location is part of its heritage.
The credit union and the property owner were apparently working toward a relocation deal, which collapsed earlier this summer. Now comes word that city officials are willing to use eminent domain proceedings to force out the credit union and cut a deal with the property owner and Lowe’s.
We know that City Council members, including longtime business owner Dean Maulhardt, are reluctant to use what might be called the “nuclear option” to get the credit union to knuckle under to its landlord.
We’d strongly suggest that in this case the government do what it can to nudge and cajole the landlord and tenant to get a solution. With all of the vacant commercial space available in Oxnard, it should be possible to work out a resolution that keeps the credit union in the general vicinity of its current location and lets the Lowe’s project proceed.
In the rush to get sales tax revenue in the door, it’s easy to overlook the fact that credit unions fared much better than commercial banks in the ongoing financial crisis. They are the lifeline for consumer financing in many communities and increasingly they are an important part of small business and micro-business finance.
It would be ironic if the price Oxnard paid for bringing Lowe’s to the city was the impairment of its ability to provide financing for the residential and commercial improvement projects that Lowe’s is counting on to justify its existence.
Memo to landlord and tenant: Let’s roll up our sleeves and get a deal done — without going to the nuclear option.