VALLEJO – The Vallejo City Council will receive an update on a possible ordinance banning encampments near schools and daycare facilities during a special meeting on Tuesday.
Councilmember Mina Loera-Diaz proposed the ban last December, two months after a shooting at an encampment located on a lot next to the Caliber ChangeMakers Academy on Valle Vista Avenue.
Loera-Diaz doubled down on her proposal during this week’s council meeting.
“It’s not safe, it's not healthy for children to be exposed to a lot of things,” she told the council.
An official ordinance is not being presented to the city council, as members will receive a report from city staff about what such an ordinance would look like.
City Attorney Veronica Nebb said in a staff report that the city already has an anti-camping ordinance, “which the City could, if alternate shelter is available, enforce against unhoused individuals camping on public property.”
“The Council could, by policy or direction to staff, prioritize encampments located in areas such as, close to schools, day care centers, or other high risk areas identified by the Council,” Nebb said.
There are an estimated 557 unhoused individuals in Vallejo, according to a 2022 point-in-time count conducted by the county, but Nebb said that city staff believes that is an undercount.
Nebb said there are not enough shelter beds available within the city or Solano County to house the unhoused population in the city. An opinion by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Martin v. Boise ruled that cities cannot evict unsheltered people from public property without making alternative shelter space available.
This week, Loera-Diaz requested that the council agendize a second request of hers establishing an area where people living in recreational vehicles and cars can park safely and receive services.
“My goal is to have a safe area so people can stay,” Loera-Diaz said. “It’s the humane thing to do.”
Loera-Diaz said she envisions unsheltered being able to shower, use the bathroom and have access to resources and counseling.
City staff said that Loera-Diaz’s parking lot request will come before the council in April.
Loera-Diaz also said the growing unsheltered population is not good for the city’s business owners.
“It’s not a good look when we have so many unhoused folks all over the city,” she added.
Councilmember Diosdado "J.R." Matulac lobbied to change the original request that the city find a nonprofit to provide the needed services for the parking lot. Matulac said it was necessary to have other community groups, not just nonprofits.
“I just want to make sure we’re not limiting ourselves to just saying nonprofits,” Matulac said. “This is a community and team effort.”
Loera-Diaz also mentioned the recent vote by the Solano County Board of Supervisors in response to a request from the city seeking $10.6 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Vallejo sought $4 million in construction and furnishing costs for a 47-unit permanent supportive housing project under construction in North Vallejo and $2 million for construction of a 125-bed navigation center.
Vallejo’s request hit a snag when Supervisor Mitch Mashburn, who represents Rio Vista and rural areas of the county, sought to reduce the city request for $4 million for the housing project to $3 million and to reduce the allocation for the navigation center to nothing. Fellow Supervisor John Vasquez voted with Mashburn on both items. For Vallejo to get its requested funding, four votes are required at an upcoming meeting.
Loera-Diaz asked the public to speak during the upcoming supervisor’s meeting on Feb. 28 to support the city’s funding requests.
“This is your opportunity to help the unhoused to have a permanent place to stay or have a navigation center,” she said, explaining that the parking lot will serve the unsheltered before the navigation center and Broadway project opens.
City officials have touted the 125-bed navigation center as a “one stop shop” that when completed will offer beds, individual case management to connect individuals to social and medical services, job training, and securing permanent housing.
The project has been delayed several times due to budgetary issues and the city revealed in December 2021 that the original South Vallejo property intended to be home to the center was contaminated and unfit for human habitation, prompting a months-long search for a new location.
Last November, the council unanimously approved the $950,000 purchase of 1937 Broadway St. to serve as the location for the navigation center.
Meanwhile, the 48-unit supportive housing project along Broadway Street in North Vallejo broke ground recently amid a lawsuit filed by two American Canyon residents last August. The lawsuit looks to block the project over concerns that it would “result in serious health, safety, and other issues including a drastic and adverse effect on surrounding residents’ existing quality of life.”
The city council on Tuesday will also get an update on prior city council goals, and hold a street pavement workshop.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Vallejo City Council
- Mina Loera-Diaz
- Diosdado “J.R.” Matulac
- Caliber Changemakers Academy
- Veronica Nebb
- Martin v Boise
- Solano County Board of Supervisors
- John Vasquez
- Mitch Mashburn
- navigation center
- Broadway Street Project
John Glidden is a journalist reporting on the city of Vallejo. The native Vallejoan has written for the Vallejo Times-Herald, Fairfield Daily Republic, the Appeal, and Solano Tempest.
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