American Canyon, downtown Vallejo made news in 2017

Vallejo Times-Herald
by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen

The year 2017 in American Canyon and in downtown Vallejo was one of change and gearing up for more, though some old sore spots remain tender and new controversies have arisen.

The biggest news of the year in American Canyon, may be when the high school was pressed into service as a shelter for those evacuated from the fire zone during the devastating North Bay wildfires, specifically the Napa Complex fires in October.

Some of the American Canyon Fire District personnel were on the front lines of the blaze, and presented a firefighter’s-eye-view in a moving video presentation at the late November City Council meeting. It was the same meeting at which retiring Police Chief Tracey Stuart was thanked for her service and new Police Chief Oscar Ortiz was sworn in.

In downtown Vallejo, the biggest news may have been the institution of paid parking in long-free parking lots and enforcement of street parking rules over the summer, which has since been scaled back some in response to significant backlash.

Vallejo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James Cooper, characterizes 2017 as a good year for downtown and Vallejo in general, “with many economic development projects in the pipeline and a number of leads for exciting future opportunities.”

He noted that, while not specifically associated with downtown, one of the city’s most successful businesses — Team Superstores — changed ownership in 2017 and the new owners are already getting involved with the community. 

Also, as Californians are becoming aware that doing away with most vocational education decades ago has left the state with too few people who know how to build and fix things, Solano Community College opened a new Auto Technician education facility near its Vallejo campus “that can produce up to 400 graduates at a time, ensuring the entire industry has a pipeline of young talent available,” Cooper said.

Cooper also noted that Vallejo’s other two institutions of higher learning — Touro University and California State University Maritime Academy — both announced expansion plans in 2017. 

Tourism-focused businesses in Vallejo, like lodging, had record-breaking years in 2017, Cooper said.

Back in American Canyon, ongoing efforts to get the United States Postal Service to install a larger post office there picked up steam this year, with a public discussion that included Rep. Mike Thompson and a large audience giving a number of Postal Service officials a piece of their mind on the matter. City officials also drafted an official request for an upgraded facility.

Parts of downtown Vallejo became the backdrop for a Netflix TV series, with a mostly positive reaction from locals, though some businesses blamed the disruption for a drop in customers. 

American Canyon officials said that the Neighborhood Watch program expanded to more than 180 (households) this year. And the city’s Fire Protection District spent much of the year filling vacant positions, updating equipment, and in ongoing training. By year’s end, they provided critical mutual aid in Southern California, during the state’s second round of history-making, deadly fire storms.

The AmCan Public Works Department was busy all summer repaving streets in town and preparing for the upcoming tax revenue “to continue this important work elsewhere in the city,” officials said. A water main replacement on Capra Drive and sewer main improvements on Theresa Drive are both underway at year’s end, they said.

The City’s Community Development Department also had an exciting year, with several major projects kicking off, including Valley View Senior Affordable Housing, Village at Vintage Ranch Town homes, and tenant improvements for the IKEA Distribution Center expected to set up shop in AmCan. The Draft Environmental Impact Review Report for the Broadway District Specific Plan also became available for public comment near year’s end.

“Also, stay tuned next year for exciting information on the Watson Ranch Project,” officials said. 

American Canyon’s Parks & Recreation Department hosted a slew of events and programs all year, like the recent Snow Day, 4th of July Celebration, May the Fourth Be With You Event, Spring Celebration, Farmers’ Market, and S’mores & Meteors.

The highly anticipated Clarke Ranch Master Plan was also completed and approved by the American Canyon City Council in October. The next step is to find funding.

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