Vallejo: Our Kind of Town
Vallejo is a waterfront community nestled between the ocean breezes of the San Pablo and San Francisco bays and the rolling hills of Solano County. The city enjoys an enviably mild Mediterranean climate, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid-seventies and just enough rain and fog to green the hills.
The city is approximately 30 miles northeast of San Francisco and 60 miles west of Sacramento, California's state capitol. A high-speed ferry service has recently made Vallejo a haven for a growing population of San Francisco commuters escaping skyrocketing housing prices and crowded city life. Straddling the mouths of the Napa River and Carquinez Strait, Vallejo is the gateway to the world-famous Napa and Carneros wine growing regions as well as the vast wildlife preserves of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and San Pablo wetlands.
Vallejo’s waterfront faces Mare Island -- a peninsula approximately 3.5 miles long and one mile wide. The island boasts stunning scenery of the Carquinez Straight and San Pablo Bay. Mare Island served as the first American naval base on the Pacific Coast. The U.S. government closed the Mare Island Shipyard in 1996.
Vallejo is a true melting pot, with one of the most diverse populations in the Bay Area -- 30 percent of Vallejo’s residents are white, 25 percent Asian-Pacific, 23 percent African American, and 16 percent Hispanic or Latino.
The shipyard closure was a heavy blow to the Vallejo community -- 41,000 persons were employed at the shipyard’s peak. The Vallejo community has not only survived that closure but has been making significant progress toward a brighter economic future. The city’s population has grown by 8,000 people from 1990 to 2000, unemployment has dropped from a catastrophic high of 9.0 percent at the height of the base-closure crisis to 4.7 percent in 2000, and average annual household income is now over $52,000.
Vallejo is now at a crossroads, poised on the cusp of greater growth and an improved quality of life. To be sure, the past decade of challenge has brought deferred infrastructure projects and budget shortfalls. But the future looks bright. An influx of new residents and an explosion in residential construction promises a solid and growing tax base. The city's aggressive re-development of Mare Island in accordance with a thoughtful and community-based Mare Island Re-use Plan, promises a broad tax base and a diversity of new businesses. The Reuse Plan calls for a clean and balanced mix of recreational, residential, and commercial/industrial development to Mare Island - activities that will mean living-wage jobs and an improved quality of life for all Vallejoans. The planned renovation of the historic downtown Georgia Street corridor - Viejo Vallejo - and the scenic waterfront also offer the prospect of renewed tourism and commercial activity in the city's downtown core.
This bright promise now stands jeopardized by the plans of Bechtel and Shell to build a hazardous and polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility and 900-megawatt power plant on the southern end of Mare Island. Building such a complex astride the gateway waterways of the Napa River and Carquinez Strait would doom the city's plans for re-developing the downtown and waterfront and lock its people into a dirty, unhealthy, blighted future.
We want to honor our heroic and sometimes gritty past - not recreate it. We want to ensure a brighter, more prosperous, more livable future for all Vallejoans. This, after all, is our kind of town.