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Vallejo Visioning and Pot Luck


Citizens share food and ideas

By Marc Garman


This past Saturday afternoon more than one hundred Vallejo residents resisted the urge to bask in the Spring sunshine and instead attended the “Vallejo Visioning and Pot Luck” held in the old bank building downtown on Georgia St. The purpose of the meeting was to consider citizen priorities and suggestions with regards to the hopefully upcoming General Plan re-write and just facilitate an overall gathering of ideas to improve The City. Vallejo's current General Plan, which informs planning and development was written in 1983 which makes it more or less from the Pre-Cambrian period when giant trilobites swam the Mare Island Straits. Just really old, outdated and problematic...because it leaves us to more or less fake our way through a real plan for development etc.


Contributors sat at round tables placed the length of the bank lobby and exchanged ideas with guidance from volunteer facilitators. The event was largely organized through the various neighborhood watches and the Next Door program, mostly seeming to encompass West Vallejo neighborhoods. Certainly a good start which will hopefully get even better as more groups and neighborhoods participate.

Each table covered a specific topic and had several laptop computers each, which were in turn networked so suggestions could be projected on a screen for all to see to later be compiled into a single document and presented to City Council. The idea being to give citizens a chance to get ahead of the anticipated herd of smarmy and supercilious (if the past is any indication) sub-contractors likely to descend on City Hall when the General Plan re-write does finally go forward. The networked laptop technique, courtesy of current Planning Commissioner Tony Adams, who describes the process as a,“visioning and policy creation exercise,” seemed to work quite well with Adams periodically ringing a large cow bell to give the “change table” signal to participants.




And speaking of not-so-smarmy etc. denizens of City Hall, Vallejo's new Planning Manager Andrea Ouse was present for the whole event, which ran from 12-4 PM. She seemed engaged and genuinely enthused as she circulated around the room dipping into the ferment of ideas at the various tables...which covered:



  • Economic Development

  • Mare Island

  • Historic Preservation

  • Open Space

  • Circulation and Transportation

  • Housing

  • Environment – noise, climate, air quality

  • Safety & Law Enforcement

  • Land use & Open Space

  • Downtown & Waterfront Plans

Plus several “Wild Card” tables that fell into less easily categorizable or more open topics:

  • Heritage & Preservation

  • Quality of Life

  • Citizen Priorities

  • Open (anything goes category)

Spirited discussions went back and forth over plates of food touching both positive and negative aspects of Vallejo. Ideas on how to promote Vallejo's historic character and homes, ideas for Mare Island such as a solar farm, how to promote industry, rail service and the direction of future economic development were among the many ideas.

One theme that seemed to be often repeated was the (let's face it) somewhat battered image of Vallejo. Even City Hall recognizes that both in perception and reality, we certainly have some challenging issues. They have been talking about bringing in consultants (yes, those) to help with “branding.” Never liked that term. Can't help but think of some leathery faced wrangler with a hot glowing poker heading for I digress. Yikes!

Bottom line...It was great to see so many folks turn out for this event with lots of ideas. Hopefully this sort of community enthusiasm will continue to grow and include more neighborhoods. Especially after all Vallejo has been through over the past few years, clearly a lot of people are ready to devote time and effort in re-inventing this place. When the “branding” and other consultants show up, they need to hear from the citizens!

As the event wound down, one of the organizers, Brendan Riley thanked everyone for their attendance but with the reminder, “You cannot let up!”

I agree. Or as they used to say in the Bronx (back in the day): DON'T MOVE. IMPROVE!!