, January 22, 2022

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Vallejo might purchase land from school district for navigation center


  •   5 min reads
Vallejo might purchase land from school district for navigation center
Former Little League fields on Rollingwood Drive. Photo via Google Maps.

VALLEJO – The city of Vallejo has its eyes on acquiring three surplus properties owned by the Vallejo school district.

The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to meet during a special closed session on Tuesday with its negotiators to get an update on the city’s possible acquisition of four unused Little League fields on Rollingwood Drive as well as former schools on Grant Street and Farragut Avenue.

City officials remain mum on what potential future plans they have for the land, but a source with knowledge of the matter told the Vallejo Sun that the city has considered the Rollingwood and Farragut locations as possible replacement sites for a proposed homeless navigation center.

The much delayed project suffered another setback when city officials confirmed last month that the proposed site of the navigation center at 5 Midway St. had a restriction preventing human habitation on the property due to ground contamination from prior industrial use.

The school district is seeking no less than $4.8 million for the 17.71 acres of land along  Rollingwood Drive and Benicia Road. The property was once the home of East Vallejo Little League baseball. The district is also asking for no less than $2.9 million for the 5.2-acre Farragut school site.

The council is also scheduled to hear about terms and prices of the Grant school site in South Vallejo. It wasn’t immediately known how much the district is asking for that site.

Vallejo’s negotiating team includes interim City Manager Mike Malone, interim Assistant City Manager Gillian Hayes, and City Attorney Veronica Nebb.

Later in the night, the council is scheduled to receive an update about the status of the navigation center which has been besieged with funding issues for years.

City officials revealed in early November that there continues to be a $2.3 million funding gap regarding the proposed 125-bed navigation center. Officials said the gap needed to be filled before the shelter is  built.

During a city council meeting last May, then-Housing & Community Development Program Manager Judy Shepard-hall revealed that the project’s budget had more than doubled from $4 million to $8 million. A week later, she was placed on paid administrative leave. It wasn’t immediately clear for what reason.

City council to weigh housing options for homeless

As expected, the council will be asked Tuesday to approve using $290,000 from the city’s allocated American Rescue Plan Act monies to fund a hotel voucher program for about 50 of the city’s unsheltered residents.

The council expressed support for such a program during a special meeting last month amid  discussion on what to do with about 50 unsheltered people who lost their temporary housing on Jan. 5 when the Project RoomKey program shut down.

The project was launched during the first month of the pandemic as state leaders attempted to stop the spread of COVID-19 by offering shelter options for people experiencing homelessness.

Through two meetings in December, the council spent about 10 hours debating what to do with the unsheltered as the Project RoomKey program ended. Richard and Emily Fisher of the nonprofit 4th Second, submitted an application seeking a 30-day temporary use permit to place 40 7.5-foot by 7.5-foot tents and four Porta-Potties inside a church parking lot at 921 Amador St.

That idea was met with concern from the surrounding neighbors and some housing advocates who were upset with the idea of moving the unsheltered from motel rooms to tents on the ground.

Following an initial rejection by the council on Dec. 21, city staff returned a week later with new possible locations to place the tents. The council wasn’t sold on the new locations, but they eventually expressed support for the hotel voucher program as a way to buy time on what to do with the unsheltered.

Part of Tuesday’s recommendation includes moving $400,000 in federal rescue plan funding from the Downtown Streets Team to Homeless Response Efforts program and adopting a resolution approving a grant agreement with Fighting Back Partnership to fund the housing vouchers program.

Fighting Back partnership, 4th Second, and Vallejo Together are set to administer the voucher program, which is slated to  use vacant hotel rooms or mobile homes throughout Solano County, according to the city.

“Under this agreement, Fighting Back Partnership would partner with 4th Second and Vallejo Together to manage and guarantee the voucher program, establish program rules, provide healthcare, case management, and other services to the homeless population, including those individuals receiving a voucher paid with grant funds,” staff said in their report.

Fighting Back will be required to provide monthly reports for the grant, which is set to run through April 30, 2022.

Council meetings may return to Zoom

The Vallejo City Council may resume meeting virtually amid a surge in COVID-19 cases associated with the omicron variant.

The council is expected to vote Tuesday whether to continue meeting in person or return to teleconference meetings.

Solano County had 381 cases of COVID-19 on Jan. 1, up from the 48 cases recorded a month prior, according to data from the Solano County Public Health Department.

The council returned to in-person meetings last November after more than 18 months away from council chambers. The council, which has been meeting via teleconference since then, voted in October to resume in-person meetings as the city’s vaccination rate increased to over 85%.

Part of the return to in-person meetings included a mask mandate requiring people ages 4 years and older to wear a face covering over their nose and mouths while inside any buildings open to the public. Those spaces include grocery stories, office buildings, laundromats, and restaurants. State officials this week extended the statewide indoor mask mandate through Feb. 15.

The council will also appoint a vice mayor for the 2022 calendar year. Councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga, District 1, served in the position during 2021. Mostly ceremonial, the vice mayor runs the council meetings when the mayor is absent or needs to recuse themselves from a particular item before the council.

Councilmember Katy Miessner, at-large, was vice mayor in 2018, while Councilmember Pippin Dew, also at-large, was picked for 2019.

Neither councilmembers Hakeem Brown, at-large, Mina Loera-Diaz, District 3, and District 6 Councilmember Cristina Arriola have served as vice mayor. Both Loera-Diaz and Arriola were elected to the council in 2020. Brown was elected to the council in 2018.

The Vallejo City Council is scheduled to meet for its special closed session meeting beginning at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

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