, May 23, 2022

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Vallejo City Council asked to approve controversial North Mare Island land deal

  •   3 min reads
Vallejo City Council asked to approve controversial North Mare Island land deal
The proposed site of a land deal that would sell 157 city-owned acres to the Nimitz Group, shaded red. Photo: City of Vallejo.

VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a controversial land deal which would transfer 157 acres of city-owned land on the northern portion of Mare Island to a developer for only $3 million.

The council will be asked to approve a handful of items including giving its OK to a disposition and development agreement with The Nimitz Group, LLC., declaring the 157 acres as surplus property and approving a seventh amendment to an exclusive negotiation agreement with Nimitz Group for the property, among others.

In early 2020, Nimitz brought in Tennessee-based Southern Land Company as master developer for the property.

The proposed deal has come under increased scrutiny after it was revealed that then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff met with officials from the Nimitz Group and Southern Land Group in late 2019. Nyhoff was accused by former employees of weakening an October 2019 term sheet by removing certain development benchmarks.

Nyhoff fired Will Morat, assistant to the city manager for economic development, Slater Matzke, special advisor to the city manager, and Joanna Altman, assistant to the city manager for communications & special projects in April 2020. An official reason was never given.

However, all three filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city early last year, claiming Nyhoff let them go because they had raised concerns about Nyhoff’s behavior. That lawsuit is currently ongoing.

They allege that Nyhoff “created a culture of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in Vallejo that was so deeply embedded that other employees felt free to do the same,” according to the lawsuit.

"The land deal has no performance guarantees, no public benefits – there isn't even a sales price that provides net revenue to the City when turning over this valuable land. This land deal goes against the best interests of Vallejo residents,” said the trio’s lawyer, J. Gary Gwilliam, in a news release.

Nimitz owns more than 800 acres of land on Mare Island, including the purchase of 500 acres from residential developer Lennar in November 2019 and the 170-acre golf course located on the southern portion of the island.

City to solicit input on police oversight

The city council will also be asked to approve a new outreach plan to receive input from the community regarding future independent oversight of the Vallejo Police Department.

The city is proposing to host a series of community meetings over the next few months to solicit ideas from residents about the best oversight method. The city council is expected to adopt an official oversight model this summer.

The proposed action comes weeks after Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell asked interim City Manager Mike Malone and City Attorney Veronica Nebb to provide an update on a completed report about some members of the department bending the tips of their star-shaped badges after fatally shooting someone.

Malone and Nebb didn’t return a request for comment on if the update will be part of the staff report.

The report also comes after the council appointed seven members to the city’s new Surveillance Advisory Board, which was created last year following concerns about the police department purchasing and using surveillance technology without the required oversight.

Support for a police oversight model has increased over the past several years following multiple high-profile incidents between officers and the community, including multiple fatal shootings.

In May 2020, the OIR Group, which was hired to conduct an independent assessment of the department, concluded that the city needed to create some sort of oversight of Vallejo police.

“In working toward this effort, staff has committed to a robust community engagement program that provides multiple input points for the entire community, does not pre-determine or assume any preferred model and does not, in any way, seek to restrict the input of our community and interested stakeholders,” Malone and Nebb wrote in the same staff report to the city council. “Staff believes that the proposed public outreach plan achieves the goals of inclusion, diversity and the honest opportunity for input desired by our community.”

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

Members of the public may provide public comments during the meeting in person or via ZOOM (https://ZoomRegular.Cityofvallejo.net), or via phone, by dialing (669) 900-6833.

There are four different ways the public can view the meeting: In-person; watch Vallejo local channel 28; stream from the city website: www.cityofvallejo.net/Streaming; or join the Zoom webinar:https://ZoomRegular.Cityofvallejo.net.

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