Controversy is expected at Tuesday’s Vallejo City Council session on relocating the police department from its longtime location at 111 Amador St. This time the moves in question are coming closer to ideas the public has shown positive interest in.
A feasibility study will be presented on costs to move the police department to the library building at 505 Santa Clara St., and the library down to 400 Mare Island Way, a 59,000 square foot building on 4.9 acres on the waterfront. Options will be presented on upgrades with additional space for both the police department and the library.
Proponents of the move say the library’s exposure at the Mare Island site would be a plus for the city, even in extending the boardwalk as a centerpiece, increasing activity and revenue for businesses.
Police department officials have suggested a new, refurbished work site could both help draw in and retain new officers.
Dual assessments were conducted this year on options for full and partial redevelopment of the library at 400 Mare Island Way and the police department at 505 Santa Clara St.
The partial renovation of the Mare Island Way site would provide the library with 20,200 square feet — about one-third the square footage of the building, at a cost of $15 million.
Up the hill, the library site would be partially renovated for police, providing 42,600 square feet at a cost of $53.1 million, with full earthquake. Under this option, refurbishment would close to. four years.
A full renovation of the two sites would provide 29,650 square feet for the library on Mare Island Way at a cost of $20.7 million — provided the VA tenant moves. The police department would gain 105,530 square feet at 505 Santa Clara St,. at a cost of $69 million. The work would extend over four years, and include “renovations of adjacent green and plaza site space for additional secure parking and buildings.” Total estimated costs are about $89 million.
Many cities are re-establishing financial baselines in the wake of the pandemic lockdown and loss of business. In addition, surplus money is available at the state, county and city levels.
Vallejo police have looked at the Mare Island Way site for years, despite vocal resistance from the public. Poor working conditions in the Amador building have reportedly led to burnout, discouragement and a pervasive sense of being underappreciated by city officials as well as outsiders… with the workload highly demanding, and forced overtime, routine.
This year the city conducted public outreach to gather community feedback about preferred police headquarters locations. A number of sites have been proposed, with everything from zoning, building types, size and environmental concerns often standing in the way.
A slew of other feasibility studies and assessments have been conducted since 2017 on the two sites. Public Works determined that tearing down the current 111 Amador St. facility and rebuilding in the same location would not be a good investment for Vallejo. A Solano County Civil Grand Jury report said delays in the relocation of the Vallejo Police Department have been costly — and “dangerous.”
In April, Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell, who opposes moving the police department to 400 Mare Island Way, said: “This has been a rushed vehicle and we have not done due diligence on the building. It’s bad financial planning. No matter how you look at it. It’s bad.”