After much discussion about the current wording of the existing planned development requirements, the Oakdale Planning Commission voted to keep the wording the same but took under consideration the suggestion to restructure the way the section is presented to be more user-friendly.
Upon direction of City Council, former Community Development Director Danelle Stylos, (Feb. 29 was her last day), examined the current zoning section of the General Plan in regards to the planned development requirements to determine whether Oakdale’s development ordinances were written in a way as to prevent “Big Box retail” from considering Oakdale as a location.
After much searching and studying, Stylos came to the conclusion that the ordinances were not prohibitive, however, as the section is written now, it is not user-friendly and difficult to navigate when looking for specific information.
Furthermore, there are only two parcels (on east and west ends of the city) that fit the acre requirement for large retail — otherwise known as “Big Box” — but the parcels do not come without significant obstacles.
With that said, Stylos created a slideshow from a field trip to areas such as Pleasant Hill, Davis and Walnut Creek, to show examples of how large, anchor-style retail establishments can be aesthetically pleasing as well as economically beneficial to the community without turning acres of land into a sea of asphalt.
Stylos brought forward low-cost ideas to help transform Oakdale into specific districts with a unifying theme that would remain true to the city’s identity as the Cowboy Capital of the World.
Comments from the public included those from Mike Eggener as he voiced concerns that potential growth shouldn’t obliterate the city’s personality.
“Times have changed but we need to capture the business in a way that works for Oakdale,” Eggener said.
Yvonne Thompson, owner of Bucksworth Western Wear, echoed the sentiment but added, “If we don’t make some money, there’s not going to be anything for anyone.”
Planning Commissioner Ron Bordona said, “Just because times are tough doesn’t mean we should change ourselves. We need to hold onto what we believe in. We can’t give in to retail pressure. The Cowboy Capital of the World is who we are.”
Bordona also pointed out that he didn’t believe it was the ordinance that kept out big box retail, but rather not enough population.
“There aren’t enough rooftops to attract big box retailers,” Bordona said simply.
Although everyone agreed that change is needed, the commissioners decided to wait until the General Plan revise is complete to make ordinance changes.