I received an email from the administrator or Lotta Living on this subject. Text as follows…
The Wagon Wheel Motel is a unique architectural specimen, worthy of restoration. The Wagon Wheel’s adaptive reuse should be looked at as an opportunity to have an authentic gateway feature that embraces local history and memorializes an Oxnard pioneer – Martin V. Smith – instead of yet another endless stretch of 18 foot high cinderblock wall, like every other community from Orange County to Silicone Valley.
The Wagon Wheel maintains its integrity from its period of significance (1947 through 1965), and therefore qualifies as an historic resource. It should be adaptively reused consistent with the Secretary of the Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Environmental Impact Report and 2 peer reviews find that the Wagon Wheel Motel, the Wagon Wheel Restaurant, bowling alley and the El Ranchito restaurant are potentially eligible as a City of Oxnard Landmarks. The Oxnard Cultural Heritage Board has found the four buildings eligible for City of Oxnard Historic Landmark status. The San Buenaventura Conservancy has also found these buildings worthy of preservation and inclusion on their list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Resources.
These structures are eligible on the basis of Oxnard landmark criteria #2. (Is identified with persons or events which are significant in national, state or local history). And #8 (It is one of the few remaining examples in the County possessing distinguishing characteristics of an architectural or historical type or specimen). In this case the significant person associated with the structures is Martin V. Smith, the most influential developer in the history of Oxnard. No better monument to Smith exists, and many of his projects have already been demolished or redeveloped. The Wagon Wheel structures are an excellent example of the themed roadside motel, and development from the pre-Holiday Inn era. Mid-century roadside Americana is being demolished or redeveloped at an alarming rate leaving few intact examples. The Wagon Wheel was Martin V. Smith’s pioneering development, featuring unique architecture, a western theme, and an ever-expanding destination for weary travelers on the 101. These qualities still exist, although since the property was closed, in 2005 no maintenance or care has been given to the buildings and they have suffered recent vandalism fallen into a state of cosmetic disrepair. Their tourism value is fantastic, because like Farmer’s Market on Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Wagon Wheel is authentic, not a themed mall, but a truly American resource, that with restoration will become more and more desirable over time as other structures of this type are razed. The Environmental Impact Report, referencing the historic resource peer reviews, states that the four buildings are historic resources and therefore their demolition cannot be mitigated. The project could be modified to maintain the Wagon Wheel or one of the EIR alternatives could be accepted. The EIR lists a range of feasible alternatives, they all include preservation of the historic resources and adaptive re-use thereof, any of the alternatives are favorable to the project, which would demolish all structures on the site.