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Project Expos and Vote Scheduled!

3/26/13 -- It’s time! After 3 months of hard work, your PB budget delegates will showcase the projects they’ve developed for the PB ballot - based on your ideas - at three upcoming Project Expos. This will be a chance to learn what projects will be on the ballot, ask questions about them, and hear from delegates about how they created these proposals. The expos will be set up like a science fair, and will have food, entertainment, and activities for kids! Please download and print some flyers to post in your neighborhood!. SEE FULL INFO HERE


ALERT ALERT   3/25/13 --AFFORDABLE HOUSING NIGHTMARE VOTE DELAYED -- Item 8A pulled from 3/26/13 City Council Agenda -- Continued to April 9 Council Meeting !!!! 


Proverb: When immovable object collides with irresistable force laws of physics and city government break down.


Blame the Government Or the Downtown Owners?

By Jim Davis


During my eight-year stint here in Vallejo, I have marveled at the lack of involvement by the downtown property owners.  In most cities, the big property owners are intimately involved in shaping the city.  They support the government with experts, money, and guidance.  This has not happened in Vallejo.  Admittedly, Vallejo has its own peculiar set of problems—history, demographics, and social breakdown (lack of parenting (mostly absent fathers), resulting in drugs, thugs, guns, and violent crimes)--but to couple these inherent problems with an uninvolved ownership class is the kiss of death.  We have many community groups trying to influence our direction—Fighting Back Partnership, Better Vallejo, race-based groups, faith-based groups, The Graffiti Squad, Vallejo Main Street, and more.  I call them “The Cheerleaders.”  There is, however, also a group of downtown owners (Central Core Restoration Corporation), but they keep their positions to themselves, operating in the shadows (or not operating at all).


Wal-Mart.   Did the downtown owners fight to get the Wal-Mart store?  Did they write letters to the editor about losing this business?  Did they talk to the council?  Or did they share the thinking that such a big store would detract from our own merchants?  Are they glad to see Wal-Mart in American Canyon?  Were they MIA?  Did they assign their lawyer to fight for Wal-Mart?  Do they have a lawyer?  Who is she?

Gestapo Police.  When the Gestapo police chief was closing down cannabis dispensaries two years ago, through a blatant subversion of the law (first four prosecutions dismissed for lack of evidence or operators found not guilty), did you ever hear from the owners?  No.  But you can be sure the chief heard from them and they supported his ugly program of arresting and prosecuting these entrepreneurs.  The owners didn’t care that the Gestapo was outside its authority and destroying businesses and lives.  The owners thought cannabis dispensaries were bad for business, in that they were selling a disgusting product, corrupting our youth, and bringing trash (paper and human) to our downtown.  They wanted the Gestapo to shut them down.  And Herr Nichelini obliged.

Did the owners realize the dispensary problem was a business/social problem?  Did they realize the voters of California actually said overwhelmingly that people can sell this stuff?  Did they realize it should be regulated, that letting dispensaries open up all over the city with no oversight was a recipe for disaster?  They couldn’t get a lawyer to take the Oakland cannabis regulation, Xerox it, and change the names?  Were they afraid, like our council, that “we could be sued?”  Weren’t the dispensaries businesses that paid taxes, employed people, paid rent, bought supplies, ate in our restaurants, and shopped in our stores? What was so reprehensible about these shops and the “patients” who frequented them?  Didn’t the owners read the Times-Herald about Vallejo voters approving taxes on these businesses?  Didn’t the owners think taxes would help provide additional city services like repairing streets, hiring cops, improving schools and parks, and much more, thereby improving property values for everyone?  What is complicated about this?  Where were the owners?  Where are they today?  They have a new website:

Affordable housing. Or consider the concentration of poor people downtown in affordable housing.  Did the owners have a position on that?  Ever hear from them?  Were they complicit in destruction of the city?  Owners in other cities protect the city; they don’t destroy it, not even for the profit of a few.

Vacant properties/squatters.  Or consider the recent adoption by the city council of a program designed to address vacant properties, which are frequently occupied by squatters, bringing drugs, thugs, prostitutes, vandals, guns, and murder.  Did the downtown owners help with this?  Do they provide money and expertise to help the city deal with these issues (so-called quality of life issues) that affect our city’s vibrancy (or lack thereof)? The government needs help in the form of assistance and support.  We hear nothing from the owners.  “No my job.”

Church of Safeway.  Or consider the crowning achievement of this group of downtown owners who are supposed to be taking care of us: the transfer of downtown’s only grocery store to a church!  Did they think this would bring business downtown?  Who makes these nutty decisions for the owners?

Waterfront Development.  Shortly before I arrived in 2006, a waterfront development collapsed.  I saw a model; it was lovely.  Did the downtown owners shepherd this project? 

Triad.  The downtown development awarded to Triad around 2006 collapsed in a heap of litigation around 2011.  Did the downtown owners ask their lawyer to talk to the Triad lawyer and city lawyer to find a way to save this dynamic development?  Or was it hands-off once awarded to Triad?  The only association of downtown owners was not able to save this project?  Did they try?

Mare Island.  The hoped-for development of Mare Island, under the auspices of Lennar, has not succeeded.  Have the downtown owners been involved in this effort?  The train?

M-O-N-E-Y.   Owners are usually motivated, not by altruism, but by money—property values.  These owners are like the old woman with the house on the corner; the yard is overgrown, the roof is sagging, and the paint is peeling.  Everyone says, “Why doesn’t she take care of that property? It’s a nice house and could be worth a lot of money if she’d take care of it.”  There you have the owners of downtown Vallejo, many of whom live far away, and probably enjoy the tax offsets connected with our sinking property values.

Where are the property owners?  We need them to stand up for Vallejo.


Note: All opinions expressed in the "Primal Scream" column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the Vallejo Independent Bulletin