Building on accomplishments to date with Cal Poly’s City and Regional Planning Department and Business School, the OEDC is planning to proceed in 2023 with a study to determine the efficacy of creating a nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC).
The decision to explore the feasibility of a CDC strategy was based on results of a six-month community survey and was the consensus of the OEDC’s 25-member Project Advisory Committee (PAC).
Oceano Community Survey
An in-person, door-to-door community survey was conducted for the OEDC in January – June 2022 by bilingual graduate students in Cal Poly’s City and Regional Planning (CRP) program, building on four years of earlier studies not ed above. The survey garnered results from 275 of Oceano’s 2,636 households that had been sampled demographically to match 2020 census data.
Among the survey’s highlighted findings, respondents said they feel safe but want more sidewalks, new businesses, new job opportunities, and more affordable housing. They also want a town center that brings new outlets for dining and shopping, new cultural and community facilities such as a library and senior and youth centers, and recreational and sports facilities that include a soccer field and a recreational center. Full survey results can be found at https://oceanoedc.org/planning-development-documents/.
The survey process followed a “statistically representative sample method,” ensuring that results would be representative of community members’ opinions with a 95% level of confidence. Any survey questions that did not receive the required number of statistically significant response are labeled as such. The surveys were administered equitably throughout all Oceano neighborhoods. Respondents had the option of interacting with a native English speaker or a native Spanish speaker.
Survey responses are presented in a series of 54 slides many of which show the percentage of Latino and non-Latino respondents separately as well as combined. This was done for the express purpose of letting the Latino community know that their voices were heard. This has been an issue for many Latino residents who feel the Latino community has been disregarded and treated inequitably by the County.
The survey’s design was done jointly by Cal Poly faculty and students on the one hand and OEDC council members and advisors on the other. The process was overseen by AICP-certified planning professionals Chuck Stevenson (former division manager for the County’s long-range planning division and a former SLO City planning commissioner), and planning consultant Doreen Liberto, a former SLO County planning commissioner who owns Earth Design International, which specializes in land-use and environmental projects in disadvantaged communities. Also instrumental to its design was input from the OEDC’s 25-member Project Advisory Committee (PAC) which represents 15 Oceano stakeholder groups as listed on the OEDC website at https://oceanoedc.org/about-us/#pac.
Community Development Corporation (CDC) Feasibility Study
CDCs are 501(c)3 organizations controlled by community residents dedicated to the revitalization of underserved communities. CDCs engage in the planning and implementation of affordable housing, economic revitalization, small business development, capital improvements and other community development projects. They are also able to access unique sources of funding.
Hundreds of underserved communities around the country have formed CDCs. There are close to 100 in California alone. CDCs have built hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units nationally and created thousands of jobs through small business support and commercial revitalization.
Given the low funding priority the County has ascribed to Oceano over the years for community development, the OEDC believes the formation of a CDC presents the most promise for advancing the community’s future development based on priorities set by its residents as well as on regional socioeconomic benefits.
While the central focus of an Oceano CDC would be on Oceano’s development priorities, the CDC feasibility study would also address similar unmet needs in other underserved communities in the County. In doing so the study would reach out to and coordinate with other economic development initiatives in the County.