, May 23, 2022

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Protest planned over proposed $30M loan for new Vallejo Police HQ

  •   3 min reads
Protest planned over proposed $30M loan for new Vallejo Police HQ
The proposed new Vallejo police headquarters at 400 Mare Island Way. 

VALLEJO – Local activists and family members of men shot and killed by Vallejo police have plans to hold a protest before Tuesday’s Vallejo City Council meeting to demand the council reject a plan to borrow $30 million from the state to design and remodel a new police headquarters along the city’s waterfront.

Protestors will also demand that the city’s police department fire officers involved in a ritual of bending the tips of their star-shaped badges after killing someone on duty.

The council originally planned to take up the possible loan during its Feb. 22 meeting but the item was pushed back to March 8. It will also be the first time the council will meet in-person during the last two months.

The proposed loan would be through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank), which the California Legislature created in 1994 to help finance public infrastructure and private development. The interest rate for the loan is expected to be between 2 or 3% with debt service payments of $1.6 million annually for 30 years, staff wrote in a report to the council.

Vallejo civil rights attorney Melissa Nold said Monday that she doesn’t expect the public outcry over badge-bending and the $30 million loan will change anyone on the council’s mind.

“Some of them have their own motivations and loyalties that rarely align with the community’s needs,” Nold added. “Even if it does not sway them, it is important to speak up for the community and create a public record of the dissent.”

Nold, who has filed multiple lawsuits against the city and its police force, is an advocate for federal oversight of Vallejo police, stressing that is the only way to bring true reform to the embattled department. As evidence, Nold has pointed to the revelation in summer 2020 that officers bent their badges following a fatal shooting to celebrate the occasion.  

Officials maintain that the current police facility at 111 Amador can no longer support police operations due to deferred maintenance with the building over the years.

“The building has antiquated HVAC systems, along with lead, asbestos, and other environmental hazards,” interim City Manager Mike Malone wrote in a staff report to the council about the building that was built in 1961. “Further, the building lacks adequate backup power generation and has recently lost power for extended periods of time, impacting the efficiency of operations.”

Vallejo purchased the building for $13.4 million in 2019 and the police department partly moved in the following year.

Vallejo council member Cristina Arriola, District 6, said in a February 2021 social media post that the council’s decision to buy 400 Mare Island Way for the new police HQ was the reason she sought election to the city council in the first place.

“I won’t sugar coat it. We are in economic turmoil and we must make fiscally responsible decisions that will allow us to support badly needed social programs, to afford filling potholes and to avoid bankruptcy,” Arriola wrote “We need a new police station. 400 Mare Island way is not the right place."

Following two months of remote meetings, the Vallejo City Council will return to its chambers on Tuesday. The council voted in early February to move all city meetings back to in-person following a surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant over the holiday season.

The public will still have an opportunity to participate in the meeting remotely, via Zoom: ZoomRegular.Cityofvallejo.net.

The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

The protest is scheduled for 6 p.m. on the steps of city hall.

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