, August 09, 2022

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Vallejo delays possible $600K land purchase for future housing project

  •   3 min reads
Vallejo delays possible $600K land purchase for future housing project
A vacant lot on Broadway next to the American Canyon Dog Park is the proposed site for a new Project HomeKey homeless housing project.

VALLEJO – A request that the Vallejo City Council authorize the purchase of $600,000 worth of undeveloped land as part of a 48-unit permanent supportive housing project has been delayed until July 5.

The council was originally scheduled to vote on the possible purchase during its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, but after city hall posted the agenda on Thursday, officials pulled the agenda and removed the item entirely by the following morning.

“They needed additional time to finalize all documents because there are many partners involved and the agreements are complex,” city spokesperson Christina Lee told the Vallejo Sun when asked why the item was removed from the agenda.

Vallejo is seeking to build 47 studio apartments, each about 305 square feet, with residents expected to move into the North Vallejo housing project by next January. The modular housing units would be supplied by Factory_OS, which is located on Mare Island. A 48th unit would be occupied by an onsite manager.

Vallejo was one of five municipalities recently awarded HomeKey funds, a $1.45 billion state program to house people without shelter or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Funding for the land purchase would come from a $12 million grant awarded by the state.

Known as the Broadway Project, the proposed housing complex has caused consternation from some residents and the city of American Canyon, which, in a rare move, called out Vallejo leaders for failing to tell the surrounding neighborhoods and community about their plans in a timely manner.

American Canyon City Manager Jason B. Holley confirmed to the Vallejo Sun last week that his city is reviewing all its options — including possible legal action to block the proposed housing project, which would be located close to the border between the two cities.

American Canyon has previously questioned Vallejo’s interpretation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) regarding the project. Vallejo officials say that since Project HomeKey funds are being used, such housing projects are exempt from review under CEQA —  a state law that provides government officials and the public with information about the possible environmental impacts of a proposed project.

The original staff report stated that the council would vote on several resolutions associated with the Broadway project, but those resolutions weren’t included in the agenda packet before city hall removed the item from the agenda. The resolutions included finding the Broadway project exempt from CEQA review, and authorizing the city manager to execute a development and construction contract with Firm Foundation Community Housing, the nonprofit organization  leading the project.

Another resolution includes authorizing the city manager to place an affordability covenant on the land for 55 years, or added language to the property deed that restricts potential future resales of the property.

Neither Assistant City Manager Gillian Hayes nor Lee have responded to questions from the Vallejo Sunabout the status of the resolutions. Lee did respond in a separate email Friday to confirm that the item was pushed back to July.

People opposed to the project have expressed concern that it will hurt economic development in the area and create even more problems by attracting homeless people to the neighborhood.

The cost of construction is $340,000 per unit. Nonprofit Shelter Inc. is slated to provide an onsite property manager who will live in the building.

The half-acre lot, currently owned by Richard and Emily Fisher of the nonprofit 4th Second, was appraised at $605,000 this past February, about $40,000 above what the Fishers paid in April 2021.

A few hours before deciding on the resolutions, the council will get an update in closed session from its real property negotiators about the price and terms of payment regarding the property.

The couple approached the city late last year with a plan to place 40 7.5-foot by 7.5-foot tents and four Porta-Potties in a church parking lot at 921 Amador St. for use by people leaving the city’s Project RoomKey program last December.

Members of the surrounding neighborhood opposed that idea during a Dec. 21 city council meeting. The following week, the council was presented with additional locations for the proposed tent city, but a majority of the council expressed support for the housing voucher program instead. That program provides motel rooms and/or mobile homes in Vallejo and Vacaville for about 34 unsheltered people.

The Vallejo City Council is tentatively scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. on July 5 to discuss the possible purchase of the property.  

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