This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it





Login Form

Lost Password?


PDF Print



The Fairgrounds Project


"A Loss Leader"

By Dan Levin






There are two great myths surrounding the fairgrounds project.  County government has perpetuated these myths and City government has naïvely accepted them:

Something—anything—is better than leaving the fairgrounds undeveloped.
• So much money will flow from the development that Vallejo can afford to give up as much as 97% of it.

That percentage you just read is not a mistake.  Three years ago alarm bells sounded when County documents showed that the City would give up 75% of the tax revenue.  City staff and Council insisted that the number was just “proposed” and we should not believe it.  Well, they were right, but in the wrong way.  The number went up.

Now the proposed revenue sharing is 63% for the first three years, then it jumps to 97% for six years, then 55%, then finally 25% starting in year 30.  How can City staff pretend this is a good deal for Vallejo?  Here are the multiple-choice answers:

(A) by simply accepting all of the County’s revenue and expense projections.
(B) by confusing the number of revenue streams with the total amount of revenue
(C) by neither seeking independent advice nor doing their own analysis

(D) all of the above*

The correct choice is starred.  You may be surprised by choice B.  Basically, the City is spinning the story, as you may have read in yesterday’s Times-Herald, by saying:  Look, there are 12 revenue streams.  The County is getting 97% from only six of them.  Therefore the City is getting a pretty good deal, because that’s only 97% of a portion of the revenue, not all of it.

Hmm, did City staff actually drop the percentages into a spreadsheet and see how that logic plays out?  Apparently not.  They would have discovered two things: not all revenue is created equal; and the city is in for significant losses.  In fact, just by dropping in the percentages, the City faces almost continual losses through Phase 2 of the project.  Finally, in year 15, the City eeks out a cumulative net impact of $300,000 (sum of all losses and gains).

The situation gets even worse.  It turns out Measure B taxes figure heavily into the plan.  While Measure B was intended to give Vallejo something extra, it’s actually propping up the project.  (It’s not shared with the County, but it keeps the project from going completely into the red.)   Also, it turns out that the County consultant never accounted for any shift of revenue in the City.  When even a slight shift is included in the numbers, they look really bad:  Vallejo doesn’t reach break-even for 32 years!

The Times-Herald article mentioned me as a longtime observer.  That’s a fair statement, no pun intended.  I’ve tried to do my homework and put forward arguments based on fact.  Please see this PDF file.  It shows what happens when the revenue-sharing numbers are actually added to the County’s projections.  I hope the charts and commentary are easy to follow.  (All of the spreadsheet data is included at the end.)  Also, I’ve produced a couple of flyers that you can share.  One nicely shows how something really can be worse than nothing.

Lastly, if you’re alarmed about the negative impacts on Vallejo, and wonder how such a deal ever made it this far, please show up at the Planning Commission meeting on Monday 4/29, 7 pm at City Hall.  You can voice your displeasure along with many other concerned Vallejo citizens.


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