Thursday, September 29, 2005

County called one of the nation's '100 Best Communities for Young People'

Article Last Updated: Monday, Sep 26, 2005 - 11:17:41 pm PDT

County called one of the nation's '100 Best Communities for Young People'

By Sarah Arnquist

FAIRFIELD - Solano County was recognized Monday as one of the nations' 100 Best Communities for Young People because of its commitment to providing a healthy, safe and caring environment for its youth.

More than 1,200 communities applied for the prestigious title. Solano County was one of seven California communities recognized for its innovative and successful work to help young people succeed by America's Promise, a national children's advocacy alliance founded in 1997 to promote the well-being of American youth.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors lists children as a top priority in several strategic goals. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis said the award proves community collaboration leads to success.

"Setting goals and priorities and sticking to them pays off," Kondylis said.

Solano County stood out because of its effective public and private partnerships that share common goals to improve the lives of children and youth, said Patrick Duterte, director of Solano County Health and Social Services.

"This award is really just a recognition of the partnership and collaboration that is unique to Solano County," Duterte said.

The Board of Supervisors leads the commitment and relies on devoted groups including the Solano Coalition for Better Health, First 5 Solano, the Children's Network of Solano County and various city partnerships to create effective programs, said Christina Linville, who compiled the application. She is the executive director of First 5 Solano.

"What we have in this county is perseverance, and I think, personally, that's more valuable than a lot of things," Linville said. "We just don't quit, and over time you see big changes."

Winning communities were selected on their achievement of five principles for children: Caring adults who are actively involved in their lives; safe places in which to learn and grow; a healthy start toward adulthood; an effective education that builds marketable skills; and opportunities to help others.

The Solano Coalition for Better Health and its work to provide health insurance to all children is the best example of collaboration, Duterte said. Solano County is tied at 96 percent for the highest number of insured children in the state. This fall, the county will launch a Healthy Kids program to insure 100 percent of the county's youth.

Solano County leaders demonstrate their commitment to youth through their actions - not just words, Duterte said.

Linville echoed Duterte, saying Solano's commitment to health and strong community collaborations set the county apart. Three of the Board of Supervisors' strategic goals focus on improving the lives of children in the community, Linville said.

Other California communities chosen include Chino, Irvine, Long Beach, San Jose, Sacramento County and San Mateo County. The 100 Best represent communities in different regions of the country with varying population densities and ethnicity rates.

"These communities weren't chosen because they're perfect," Linville said. "They were chosen because they're working very hard and working hard together."

Newsweek magazine and NBC's Today Show will feature the award winners in the coming days. All recipient communities will be honored at a celebration in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2.

The recognition is flattering, but there's always room to improve, Kondylis said.

"The bottom line is that we may be good, but we can do a lot better," she said.

Reach Sarah Arnquist at 427-6953 or


100-Best selection criteria was based on Solano County's commitment to these five principles:

- Community has established relationships with parents, mentors, tutors and coaches that support, care about and guide youth.

- Community has safe places with structured activities for youth to learn and grow.

- Community provides adequate nutrition, exercise and health care to pave the way for healthy adults.

- Community has effective education system that prepares youth with marketable skills to transition to work.

- Community service opportunities are available to enhance self-esteem, boost confidence and heighten a sense of social responsibility.

Source: America's Promise.

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Ground Broken for New Library

Article Launched: 09/27/2005 06:59:24 AM

Ground Broken for New Library
By Jason Massad/Staff Writer

State, county and city leaders converged in Fairfield's Green Valley area Monday morning to commemorate construction of the county's eighth library branch.

With the sounds of construction equipment all around the end of Business Center Drive, officials set up camp beneath a white tent in the parking lot of the Solano County Office of Education, which will be a neighbor to the new library.

By December 2006, a $14.3 million building for multiple uses along with a 15,600-square-foot library will anchor the site in the western part of Fairfield, separated from the city center by the busy Interstate 80 freeway. The library itself will cost approximately $9 million.

"It's a long drive to Fairfield across the traffic and I-80," said Vice Mayor Harry Price. "We had to deliver for the people that live in western Fairfield."

The new library was funded by almost equal chunks of money from the city of Fairfield, Solano County and the state, each contributing between $4 million and $5.5 million.

Local leaders lauded a tax that helps fund libraries through the county and also talked about the arduous process of putting the local library in a position to receive state grant funding.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Solano, helped Fairfield city leaders succeed in their second-chance push at state grant money.

The process was "extremely competitive," with the number of requests from all over the state outpacing the amount of the grant requests by a multiple of seven, Wolk said.

Wolk used the example of the needed Fairfield library to stump for a June initiative that she helped draft that would open up $600 million for library renovation. She said the figure was arrived at after discussions with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Department of Finance.

"It is a reasonable amount of money," she said.

While state and local money will help build the library, the grants received for construction of the building will not pay for the materials in the library.

The library system has pledged $250,000 for materials, but that still leaves the library about $500,000 short of the amount it would need to outfit the library with books, periodicals and other content, say organizers.

That's why Monday's event also marked the launching of a fundraising effort dubbed "Book by book: Lets Build our Library." The campaign seeks public financial support to stock the new library.

Those who wish to volunteer or make a financial donation call 421-8075 or go to

Jason Massad can be reached at

Lagoon park may enjoy life afresh

Article Launched: 09/27/2005 06:59:25 AM

Lagoon park may enjoy life afresh
By Tom Hall/Staff Writer

Reeling in a Sacramento perch. Picnicking in the shadows of the Pena Adobe. Wading into a lake clear of domestic geese and aquatic algae.

All these things and many more could be a part of a resuscitated Lagoon Valley Park, according to a newly-released master plan for the park.

In the next several months, city officials will look at and approve a master plan for the 350-acre park in southwestern Vacaville. Don Schatzel, the city's director of community services, said city officials have been working with several consultants since 1998 to get a plan to improve the park and its lake.

After hiccups in the process, due to scheduling constraints and area development issues, the city looks ready to move forward on park development as progress on a 1,025-home development plotted just south of the lake continues.

Triad Communities is working with city planners to develop a final map for its project in Lower Lagoon Valley, which includes some commercial space as well as a championship-style golf course. A lawsuit filed against the city and Triad, designed to halt construction in the valley, is pending.

The master plan lays out what the park currently has in terms of facilities, natural resources, trails and activities. The plan also includes specific recommendations on how to improve the park, including the restructuring of the park entrance, the creation of a beach on the eastern shore of the lake and upgrades at the Pena Adobe.

The plan also suggests that domestic geese (referred to as "nuisance fowl" in the report) be pushed out of the lake area, possibly by trained dogs.

Lagoon Valley Lake's fish population is also discussed in the master plan, and references are made to the desirability of increasing the amount of the rare Sacramento perch in the water.

Cost estimates for the project are not yet available, Schatzel said, though he expects to present them at the next meeting of the Community Services Commission on Oct. 5. The commission, which met Monday to look over the plans and discuss the master planning process, is expected to recommend approval of the plan next week.

From there, the Vacaville Planning Commission and City Council would each get their cracks at it - Schatzel expects votes on the plan before the end of the year.
One piece of the puzzle, the lake management plan, was approved in 1999. That document deals with the environmental aspects of improving and maintaining Lagoon Valley Lake.

Schatzel said the park master plan leans heavily on that study.
"They're separate documents, but they certainly come together," Schatzel said.
The suggested phasing for the project will be released along with the cost estimates, Schatzel said. He said he anticipates the project being broken up into small, manageable pieces over a number of years.

Much of the funding is expected to come in the form of a multi-million dollar contribution from Triad and in development impact fees on the homes planned to be built in Lagoon Valley. Grants and special funding from city coffers may also be used.

Schatzel said city officials have indicated that the restoration and improvement of the Pena Adobe area will be a priority, but that most of the other upgrades will be accomplished as money is secured.

"So much of it depends on funding," he said. "I see this as a very long-term project."

Tom Hall can be reached at

Friday, September 23, 2005

Solano County to lead Bay region's growth

Article Last Updated: 9/22/2005 06:40 AM

Solano to lead Bay region's growth

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen/Times-Herald, Vallejo

Vacaville and the area including Fairfield, Napa and Vallejo, is forecast to outpace other parts of the Bay region in employment and income during the next few years, according to a new study.
The report, issued by University of the Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business, also predicts that California's Gross State Product will exceed $1.9 trillion by 2008.

Dr. Sean Snaith, the school's director, said location partly explains it.

"The housing sector kind-of spearheaded this change, but other things are starting to kick in," he said.

Among them, the first phase of Vacaville's Nut Tree Village development has begun. In Fairfield, the city's redevelopment agency is moving ahead on an affordable housing project. In Vallejo, Marine World officials expect a $5 million revenue increase this season over last.

Leisure and hospitality join health, education, and professional and business services as Solano County's three main economic drivers Snaith said.

"All that housing construction that's been going on in the region has attracted new households which require a wide variety of goods and services."

The companies that set up shop to meet those needs, in turn, also need support services, Snaith said. It all seems to bode well for the area's economic future.

"It's good news," Vallejo Chamber of Commerce head Rick Wells said. "The more the numbers grow for us, the better the signs for our economy."

All is not rosy, however.

Snaith said the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina forced his staff to redo the national model for their study, taking 6 percent off the expected growth rate for the fourth quarter. He also said rising energy prices will likely put a damper on the upcoming holiday season for retailers. The Vallejo area will be impacted, but only temporarily, he said.

"Hurricane Katrina and the associated spike in energy prices will cause a fourth-quarter slowdown both nationally and in California," Snaith said. "Something's got to give, and consumers will be less inclined to spend for the holidays. Retailers will have to get more aggressive with their prices to attract consumers."

But Snaith said the negative impact of the storm and its aftermath will be transitory, and may, in the long run, provide an unprecedented opportunity for jobs in the rebuilding and upgrading of the devastated region's housing and infrastructure.

The walls go up for school district office

Article Last Updated: Thursday, Sep 22, 2005 - 10:40:41 pm PDT

The walls are going up for Fairfield-Suisun School District offices under construction near Hilborn Road. Completion is due by June. (Gary Goldsmith/Daily Republic)

The walls go up for school district office

By Stephanie Jucar

FAIRFIELD - Contractor's machines pulled up the first concrete three-story walls of the new Fairfield-Suisun School District building Thursday morning.

The new $14 million school district office is expected to be completed by June 2006, said Gary Falati, Fairfield-Suisun School Board member.

"This is the first time ever that we've had a new district office," he said of the three-year project.

Currently, the district office on 1975 Pennsylvania Ave. is what used to be David Weir Elementary School. Falati said the district's administration has worked there for the past 10 years and needs a new site.

When the new 75,000-square-foot district office is completed, the old school district building will be renovated and transformed back to an elementary school. Starting in fall 2006, Fairfield facilities and operations will work on the David Weir site to turn it back into a school, which will welcome students from Bransford and Fairview schools because of ongoing overcrowding.

The new school district building atop Hilborn Avenue and overlooking Fairfield will include a warehouse and a chamber where the School Board can meet, instead of the City Council chamber at 1000 Webster St.

Reach Stephanie Jucar at 427-6955 or

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Vallejo's old span of the Carquinez Bridge will return to service

Article Last Updated: Thursday, Sep 22, 2005 - 10:40:48 pm PDT

The Carquinez Bridge will return to service while the state renovates its replacement, the Al Zampa suspension bridge. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic file (2004))

By Barry Eberling

VALLEJO - Drivers heading eastbound over the Carquinez Bridge starting Sunday will notice a big change - a change that might initially cause some rush-hour delays.

Motorists entering Solano County will be using the historic, 1927 bridge for the first time in two years. This bridge has been closed ever since it got replaced by the Al Zampa suspension bridge.

The Zampa bridge handles westbound traffic only. A 1958 bridge handles eastbound traffic. But the state wants to renovate the bridge deck on the 1958 bridge and will close it to traffic for two months.

So the historic bridge is needed once again. Sunday should be the day for the switch - if all goes as planned. Caltrans planned to make the switch a few weeks ago, but ran into some minor glitches that caused a delay.

Commuters using the historic bridge Monday afternoon should be prepared for possible extra congestion, Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said. That should be the first time the bridge switch is tested by heavy traffic.

"We're doing what we can to make it as seamless as possible," Haus said.

But the new arrangements entails having motorists making a slight turn to the right at the end of the Carquinez Bridge, which will be necessary for them to reach the toll plaza. The state anticipates motorists will take a few days to get used to things.

"Any time you make any kind of transition, you're going to have a few awkward delays," Haus said.

Such a rightward jog wasn't needed when the 1927 bridge carried traffic in the past. The bridge used to carry westbound traffic - the direction now handled by the new, Al Zampa suspension bridge.

Haus advised listening to traffic reports on Monday to learn if any delays materialize. If so, drivers might want to take Highway 24 or Highway 4 to Interstate 680. Then they could cross the Carquinez Strait on the Benicia Bridge, he said.

After two months, the 1927 cantilever bridge will no longer be needed. Caltrans plans to take it apart piece by piece. The state replaced the aging bridge because it decided it was too hard to maintain.

Two former grocers formed the private company that built the 1927 toll bridge. Construction cost $7.8 million - about $78 million in today's dollars. Before the bridge opened, drivers had to cross the Carquinez Strait by ferry.

Now the old bridge is getting one last hurrah before it is relegated to the scrap heap.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fairfield City Council endorses Fairfield Corporate Commons addition

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Sep 21, 2005 - 11:35:25 pm PDT

City Council endorses Fairfield Corporate Commons addition

By Barry Eberling

- A proposed "smart growth" project along Interstate 80 featuring offices, apartments and townhouses has all but won city approval.

The City Council late Tuesday endorsed the Fairfield Corporate Commons addition. All that remains is for the council to take the necessary second votes at a future meeting on zoning changes and a development agreement.

Fairfield Corporate Commons East is on 79 acres at Suisun Valley Road and Kaiser Drive. It is to have 10 office buildings, 256 apartments/condominium units and 153 townhouses. It could have a 150-room hotel. The developer is the Garaventa family.

"Smart growth" ideas promote having high-density development near job centers.

"To me, if people can live close to where they're going to work, the quality of life is much better for everybody," Vice Mayor Harry Price said on Wednesday.

City Councilwoman Marilyn Farley had a concern with the project, though. It is to be built near Interstate 80 and the California Highway Patrol truck scales.

The environmental study said trucks passing on the freeway and stopping at the scales release diesel particulate matter. Residents at the proposed development would be exposed to elevated levels of toxic air contaminates, it said.

To compensate for this, the study calls for forced-air ventilation systems on the residences. People who move there should get a notification describing the possible health effects from truck pollution, it said.

The City Council voted for a "statement of overriding considerations" on air pollution to certify the environmental study. Farley cast the lone "no" vote, though she voted "yes" on the other aspects of the project.

In general, she likes the idea of having housing near Solano Community College and other uses, Farley said. She likes the look of the project, she said.

But she wouldn't feel good voting for a project that must issue air pollution warnings to prospective residents, she said.

"I had hoped my colleagues would agree that maybe this isn't a good place for housing," Farley said Wednesday.

City Council members Tuesday got a memorandum that recapped some points in the environmental study on air pollution.

Residents living at Fairfield Corporate Commons would have an additional chance of getting cancer. The risk increase is 1 to 60 cases per 1 million people over a lifetime, the memorandum said.

But the health risk can vary in real-life cases. For example, a person moving to Fairfield Corporate Commons from such polluted places as Los Angeles would see their risk for smog-related health problems drop, the memorandum said.

When completely built, the project is expected to have 1,200 residents and provide 3,000 jobs.

The proposed North Connector freeway reliever route is to pass through the project. The North Connector is designed to take local traffic traveling between Green Valley and central Fairfield off of I-80.

Without the North Connector, the project would cause "significant and unavoidable" traffic congestion at the already crowded Lopes Road/east I-80 ramps and Business Center Drive/Green Valley Road intersection, the environmental study said.

But, with the North Connector, the project will not significantly increase traffic there, the study said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Napa-Solano trail dedication this weekend

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Sep 21, 2005 - 11:23:57 pm PDT

Napa-Solano trail dedication this weekend

By Barry Eberling

- The Bay Area Ridge Trail got a little longer recently in the hills that form the border between Napa and Solano counties.

A new, 1.3-mile loop trail in Napa County will be dedicated on Saturday. This segment just about reaches the county line separating Napa and Solano. It is called the Napa-Solano Ridge Trail.

The dedication ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. at Skyline Wilderness Park near Napa. The ceremony will be near the Skyline Park entrance, not at the new trail. At 10:30 a.m., there will be hiking, biking and equestrian outings to the new trail.

Reaching the new trail takes a bit of effort. It begins at the eastern end of Skyline Park, a four-mile hike from the park entrance. From the parking lot to the end of the new trail and back is a 10-mile trip.

Festivities will also offer a shorter hike to land overlooking the new trail area.

The new trail is on private property owned by the Tuteur family. The family gave permission for the public trail to run on its land.

"We wanted to share with the public the natural beauty and habitat that enrich our lives and spirits every day," John Tuteur said in a press release.

The new trail loop is open starting Saturday to bikers, hikers and horseback riders, at least for awhile. During the rainy season, only hikers will be allowed on it - to allow the winter rains to pummel the newly created trail and pack it in, said Holly Van Houten of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. That will mean less erosion into a nearby creek.

"We call it 'seasoning the trail,' " Van Houten said.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail is to someday have 500 miles and encircle the Bay Area. Close to 300 miles of trail is open to the public. Of the remaining 200 miles, 150 miles must pass over private land.

Completing the ridge trail will require further voluntary participation of private landowners, as happened with the Tuteur family, Van Houten said.

The council would ultimately like to extend the trail on the Tuteur property into Solano County. The trail could eventually link to existing trails in Lynch Canyon open space preserve or Rockville Hills Park.

Saturday's celebration will include an open house benefit from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Skyline Community Center. A $20 donation is requested. Participants will get a commemorative wine glass. Funds raised will help maintain the trail.

To reach Skyline Wilderness Park, take Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon, head north on Highway 29, veer to the right before the Butler Bridge, continue to Imola Avenue, turn right on Imola Avenue and continue about a mile to the park entrance.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Port of Oakland to bid on Sacramento

Posted on Tue, Sep. 20, 2005

Port of Oakland to bid on Sacramento harbor

By George Avalos

Source: Port of Sacramento

Maneuvering to serve a fast-expanding Asian market, the Port of Oakland has become one of a half-dozen bidders vying for the task of navigating the Port of Sacramento out of a financial whirlpool of falling tonnage and a wave of red ink.

Oakland officials believe a deal to run the Sacramento port would bolster the East Bay port's ability to handle more imports from Asia. An agreement would also enhance Oakland's emerging strategy of increasing business by using more freight trains and barges as a way to reduce the truck traffic that congests the roads near the port.

The Port of Oakland, if selected, would operate the smaller Sacramento port, improve the marketing of the port to industry and help manage the Sacramento port's real estate assets.

The Sacramento port is seeking an operator in the wake of financial woes.

From 2000 through 2004, the average tonnage at the Sacramento port was down 19 percent, compared to the previous five-year period of 1995 through 1999. Revenue was down 6 percent in the comparable periods.

The Sacramento port has bled money for three straight years, with an average annual loss of $1.4 million. The setbacks were topped by a $1.7 million loss in fiscal 2004.

"The last few years have brought the worst losses in the history of the port," said John Sulpizio, Sacramento port director.

Northern California ports such as Sacramento that are inland have struggled over the past decade because their waters are too shallow to handle the relentless shift to giant, ocean-going cargo ships. Their distance from the Pacific Ocean is another obstacle. The limitations have hammered Sacramento with the loss of port customers.

"These hits have decreased our tonnage and decreased our revenue," Sulpizio said. "There is only so much cost-cutting you can do before expenses exceed revenues. That is what has been happening the last few years."

Sacramento also has foundered because disagreements among local governments in that area have hampered efforts to develop the considerable real estate acreage the Sacramento port owns.

"The land has been lying fallow," Sulpizio said. "Most ports have revenue from their real estate business to buffer the ups and downs of their maritime business. We always operated close to the bone with our maritime business, but we struggled to get our real estate holdings to produce money."

The Sacramento port has proposals from six entities: the Port of Oakland, Kinder Morgan Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Farmers Rice Cooperative, Yara fertilizer and Marine Terminals Corp. Final proposals are due early next month, Sulpizio said.

The Port of Oakland hopes to use the Sacramento port, which is smaller than Oakland, to handle barges that would carry 40-foot-long containers to Oakland. Under the plan, agricultural companies would deliver their products by truck or train to Sacramento and then barges would carry the products to Oakland. At present, agricultural exports going through the Oakland port often arrive by truck.

"We're looking at this as a strategic alliance," Oakland port spokesman Harold Jones said. "We're looking at ways to increase the efficiency of goods being moved in and out of Oakland."

The barge system between Oakland and Sacramento would be similar to the use of barges traveling on tributaries that feed into major ports along the Gulf Coast.

Oakland is looking at ventures beyond Sacramento to support and expand its maritime business. The Oakland port is studying ways to use port facilities in Humboldt and is in discussions with the Port of Stockton about increased railway access.

Moreover, the Oakland port is also seeking ways to use trains to connect an inland port such as Sacramento with distribution centers and warehouses in the Kern County city of Shafter.

"We are trying to push the envelope in our strategies to find viable alternatives to move goods in and out of Oakland," Jones said.


The Port of Sacramento has been afflicted in recent years with reduced tonnage, slumping revenues and mounting losses.

Year Tonnage Revenue Profit/(Loss)

2000 833,421 $10,942,830 $296,388

2001 922,081 $11,794,530 $598,682

2002 745,052 $8,761,761 $(948,831)

2003 878,803 $9,149,865 $(1,425,942)

2004 778,678 $8,306,887 $(1,685,957)

Source: Port of Sacramento

George Avalos covers the economy, financial markets, and banks. Reach him at 925-977-8477 or


© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Grape growers in Napa Valley are expecting their biggest harvest in four years.

September 20, 2005 : Business E-mail story Print Most E-mailed Change text size
Napa Valley Grape Growers Are Seeing a Bumper Crop
From Bloomberg News

Grape growers in Napa Valley are expecting their biggest harvest in four years.

Napa Valley, the site of wineries including Robert Mondavi Winery and Beringer Vineyards as well as the winemaking estate of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, is in the midst of "the crush," as the annual harvest is known.

Farmers say their cabernet and chardonnay crops are larger than they were in 2004, and prices may exceed last year's because favorable weather has improved the quality.

"Overall, it's looking really good," said Greg Fowler, senior vice president in charge of winery operations at Constellation Brands Inc.'s Icon Estates division, which operates Robert Mondavi Corp. "If you have a good harvest, you're pretty jazzed for the rest of the year."

California's wine grape crop may yield $1.8 billion this year, according to estimates by the state and farmers. That would be the best harvest since 2001, state Food and Agriculture Department records show.

Growers sold $1.58 billion in fruit in 2004. Farmers expect to harvest 2.95 million tons of grapes this year, 6.5% more than last year.

"Mother Nature gave us a big crop," said Jon Ruel, director of viticulture for Trefethen Vineyards.

The valley produces about 4% of the state's wine grapes by weight and about 22% by dollar value. Grapes from Napa Valley cost five times the average in California because they are of higher quality.

California's grape prices may be higher than the average of $571 a ton paid in 2004, Ruel and other growers estimated. Napa Valley grapes sold for $2,936 a ton last year, according to the state. Final harvest prices will be released in February.

"It's going to be probably one of the greatest harvests ever," said George Rose, spokesman for Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, the No. 8 U.S. winemaker last year, with 12,000 acres in the state. "We're looking at a 2% to 4% increase over last year, which was a great year."

Icon Estates is paying about 10% more for its chardonnay grapes than a year ago, Fowler said. It is paying about 3% more a ton for Napa Valley cabernet grapes. Icon buys about 5,000 tons of grapes a year.

Ruel said his 500-acre vineyard would yield about 10% more than it did last year. Trefethen sells about a quarter of its crop to Napa Valley wineries, including Cakebread Cellars and Rombauer Vineyards, and harvests the rest for its own wine.

Statewide, grape prices rose 7.7% last year compared with 2003. With a similar increase this year, state growers may sell as much as $1.81 billion in grapes, the largest amount since $1.82 billion in 2001.

Fairfield Council Approves Villages Project 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres near Clay Bank and Cement Hill roads

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 11:38:09 pm PDT

Fairfield Council Approves Villages Project

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The City Council on Tuesday decided the proposed Villages at Fairfield housing development west of Travis Air Force Base is the type of pedestrian-friendly community it wants.

Councilmembers want a place where people can easily walk or bike to such destinations as a school and shopping center. The Villages offers one of the few remaining chances within city growth boundaries to design such a new community on a large scale.

"This project seems to crystallize the concepts we've been talking about over the years," Mayor Karin MacMillan said.

City Councilman Jack Batson agreed.

"It would be difficult for me to begin to point out the many benefits of the project," Batson said.

Taking all the necessary votes to approve the Villages will stretch over two meetings. The council certified the environmental study and amended the General Plan on Tuesday, but must take one more vote to approve a development agreement and zoning changes.

City Councilwoman Marilyn Farley cast the sole negative vote, and that only on the environmental report. The council had to issue a "statement of overriding considerations" on the air pollution that will be caused by autos in the Villages. Farley wanted more done to cut the smog, given high asthma rates in the area.

The Villages is to have 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres near Clay Bank and Cement Hill roads. The developer, Lewis Planned Communities, has worked with the city to refine its plans for about three years.

Among the features planned for the Villages at Fairfield are:

n Homecoming, a 628-unit apartment complex. It is to include a recreation building with game room, library and exercise room, as well as such outdoor facilities as a swimming pool, putting green and barbecue area.

n Laurel Creek Plaza, 3.4-acre shopping center to be built at Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway.

n A new Linear Park trail segment along an abandon railroad right-of-way. This segment is to someday link with the existing segment in central Fairfield.

n About 120 acres to be dedicated by the developer as permanent open space.

n A 2,400-square-foot neighborhood center to be built by the developer next to the planned school.

Vice Mayor Harry Price last year wanted to make certain Travis Air Force Base personnel could afford housing in the Villages. The final Lewis proposal reserves 130 of the Homecoming units for Travis personnel. Rent will be based on the military's housing allowance rate.

MacMillan and Farley last year expressed concern about having the shopping center at Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway. Farley wanted the Laurel Creek Plaza located toward the middle of the new community, not on the periphery. Then it could create a kind of town center.

But the developers wanted the shopping center on these two major streets. Besides serving the Villages, the center will serve nearby existing neighborhoods, they said. In this case, they didn't make a change.

"I guess I've accepted it," Farley said Tuesday, adding this aspect didn't warrant voting against the project.

MacMillan noted the developer will build the parks and traffic improvements early in the project. All major traffic improvements associated with the Villages must be started by the time the 250th building permit is pulled.

"You listened. You took action. And it's much appreciated," MacMillan said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Local hospitals help fund expansion of Solano Community College nursing program

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 11:37:39 pm PDT

Local hospitals help fund expansion of SCC nursing program

By Jennifer Perez

- Solano Community College is hoping to help with the need for more nurses.

The demand for registered nurses is on the rise and hospitals are frantic to meet the state-mandated nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Nationwide, the shortage is only expected to become more severe.

Beginning this semester, SCC gains much-needed support for the expanding nursing program though a partnership with Solano County hospitals - Sutter Solano Medical Center, NorthBay Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente.

"Almost every aspect of the health-care system has felt the impact of the emerging nursing shortage," said Fran Brown, SCC's dean of health occupations. "There is a significant demand for nurses in California and throughout the nation. We are so pleased to have the support of our local hospitals to expand our program to help more students become RNs."

With the help of Sutter, NorthBay and Kaiser, SCC expanded nursing program enrollment from 44 to 54 students. All three hospitals provided on-site clinical rotations for students to gain practical experience in the hospital setting. Kaiser and NorthBay donated money, while Sutter Solano offered the time of one of its staff nurses to provided clinical instruction to nursing students during their hospital rotations in the spring. This means SCC will not have to hire an additional instructor to teach students.

With such a high demand for RNs, SCC has a waiting list of more than 300 students. The program receives general-fund money, but with an average cost of $10,000 per year to educate an SCC nursing student and only $3,500 per student provided from state funding, additional financial support is vital. This semester's funding came from Oakland and future years funding will come from Kaiser Vallejo and Walnut Creek.

For more information about the nursing program, call 864-7108 or visit

Contact Jennifer Perez at 425-4646, X359 or

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Unemployment down slightly in Solano County

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Sep 20, 2005 - 11:39:14 pm PDT

Unemployment down slightly in Solano

By Christine Cubé

- Unemployment in Solano County fell a bit in August, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department.

The county's August jobless rate was 5.3 percent, down from the 5.5 percent recorded in both June and July. The unemployment rate for the state was 5.2 percent for August.

Solano County boasted a workforce of 215,900, representing 204,400 employed individuals and 11,500 unemployed individuals.

The bump in the workforce breaks a two-month static jobless rate that held for a good part of the summer.

Nonfarm payroll employment in California grew by 17,200 jobs over the month, said the department's Labor Market Information Division. An Employment Development Department survey of employers found a total of 14,808,800 nonfarm employees in the state for August.

A separate survey found the number of Californians holding jobs in August reached a record high for a fifth consecutive month at 16,957,000. This reflects a boost of 75,000 jobs over the previous month.

The number of those unemployed in California was 930,000. A year ago, the state's jobless rate hovered at a little more than 6 percent.

Throughout the Vallejo-Fairfield metropolitan statistical area, there were a total of 129,800 jobs in August. That's up 500 jobs over July.

Solano County's jobless rate is a smidge greater than the national rate. The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the jobless rate was 4.9 percent in August. It's the lowest unemployment rate reported since August 2001.

With the situation in and around New Orleans, labor officials have yet to release a clear picture on national unemployment and how the hurricane plays into it.

In a release, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said the nation is facing the challenge of Hurricane Katrina from a position of economic strength.

"Our economy has seen 27 straight months of job growth," she said. "Net job growth has averaged about 194,000 per month, which has been above forecasts. It is also significant that the unemployment rate fell last month while the labor force participation rate rose, meaning a higher percentage of the population is working."

The month before the hurricane in July, the national number of unemployed individuals was 7.5 million. In July 2004, the number of unemployed across the country was 8.2 million.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

Local employment figures for August 2005

Location Labor Force Employment Unemployment Rate

Solano County 215,900 204,400 11,500 5.3 percent

Benicia 17,400 16,800 600 3.2 percent

Dixon 9,100 8,700 400 4.2 percent

Fairfield 49,300 46,500 2,800 5.7 percent

Rio Vista 2,400 2,300 100 3.8 percent

Suisun City 15,000 14,200 800 5.4 percent

Vacaville 46,400 44,600 1,800 3.8 percent

Vallejo 65,000 61,000 4,300 6.6 percent

Source: State of California Employment Development Department Labor Market Information Division

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

City OKs plan for downtown- Triad says construction may begin next year and would invest about $175 million in the project.

City OKs plan for downtown
Triad says construction may begin next year

After years of waiting, Vallejoans soon may finally see the downtown restored to its former glory.

To applause and cheers, the Vallejo City Council on Tuesday OK'd plans by a developer to revamp the aging district, building high-rises of housing atop stores and offices.

"I think it's outstanding, and I say let's get on with it," Councilmember Gary Cloutier said.

The council gave its unanimous preliminary approval for the project, with Councilmembers Tom Bartee and Gerald Davis abstaining because they own property in downtown.

The council still needs to give final approval but it is considered a formality. The vote was key in setting the project in motion.

More than a dozen speakers told the council how excited they were about the project. Triad Downtown Vallejo LLC hopes to first transform more than a dozen square blocks by bringing more people downtown to live and shop. The company, with roots in Seattle, would invest about $175 million in the project.

"We believe in Vallejo," said Fred Grimm, a founding partner of Triad Downtown Vallejo's parent comany in Seattle.

Grimm's company got its start in Solano County by developing homes in the city's Hiddenbrooke community. Triad has since expanded its reach to Fairfield and Vacaville, where it plans more housing projects.

In Vallejo, city officials hope the project will turn around the downtown, which once was a popular attraction for many Vallejo teens, Councilmember Tony Pearsall said. He said he used to hang out in the area, but it's long since lost its luster. The Triad project should change that, he said.

"What we've seen tonight is an extremely pretty picture," Pearsall said.

Triad isn't taking on the project alone. The city's Redevelopment Agency would invest about $10.7 million to make such improvements as upgrading streets, building a park and marketing the area to businesses. The city too would help, giving Triad a break on about $6.6 million in developer fees.

City officials said the deal is worth it to get Triad to invest in the area.

Triad already is working on revamping Virginia Street's Empress Theatre. The old movie house is being gutted. Triad officials soon hope to resume construction after financing delays.

One after another, Vallejo residents and downtown stakeholders told the council and audience how welcomed the downtown renewal project is. Solano County Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, District 1-Vallejo, even gave Triad an old - and locked - parking meter that once lined a downtown street. The money should benefit the Empress Theatre, she said.

"Triad now has to find a key," she said. "I'm sure there's at least 70 or 80 cents in there."

Some raised concerns about parking. The first part of the downtown project is a new high-rise on a city-owned parking lot on Virginia Street. Once the lot is gone, business owners said there will be less space for visitors to park. The city plans to build parking garages to make up for the lost space.

Business owners said the construction may hurt business. Still, they said they supported the project.

The project initially covers a dozen square blocks bounded by Maine, Santa Clara and Capitol streets and Sonoma Boulevard. Later, plans call for revamping the surrounding area.

- E-mail Chris G. Denina at or call 553-6835.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

PG&E gets OK to discount rates to keep businesses in state

East Bay Business Times

From the September 19, 2005 print edition

PG&E gets OK to discount rates to keep businesses in state
Celia Lamb

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has won state approval to give electric rate discounts of 25 percent to attract or retain large businesses.

The state Public Utilities Commission approved the economic development rate reductions Sept. 8. Only businesses that use at least 200 kilowatts, such as food processors or light manufacturers, can qualify. Business owners must sign affidavits that they would leave the state, expand out of state, or not move here because they can't afford the electricity.

The discounts decline by 5 points each year, zeroing out in five years. Critics said residential customers will have to bear a greater share of PG&E's costs to make up for lost revenue. But the utility claimed the rate reductions could benefit all ratepayers by keeping business customers that might otherwise close or move out of state.

The utility doesn't expect many applications. "It's a very small amount of customers that will benefit," said PG&E spokeswoman Christy Dennis.

California Manufacturers and Technology Association spokesman Gino DiCaro said the affidavit requirement could scare away some firms who don't want to open their books and expose their financial straits.

"It's not a large discount," DiCaro said, "and it's a lot of problem to get the discount."

Companies that misrepresent themselves on the affidavit would have to pay penalties of twice the difference between the regular and the reduced rate.

California's electric costs exceed those of other western states by 127 percent, according to a February 2004 study commissioned by the California Business Roundtable. The overall cost of business is 30 percent higher, and electric rates make up one-sixth of that difference.

Since 1990, PG&E has offered a smaller economic development rate reduction. That offer capped discounts at 15 percent and declined to zero in three years. Only businesses in state-designated "enterprise zones" could apply, a geographic limit dropped in the new program.

PG&E's economic development proposal gained traction last year after natural-foods maker Amy's Kitchen Inc. of Santa Rosa decided to expand with a second site in Oregon instead of growing within California. PG&E asked the Public Utilities Commission for permission to lower the food company's $1.2 million annual power bill, but Amy's Kitchen had already decided on Oregon.

By that time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had taken up the cause, although not at the request of Amy's Kitchen.

"The media played this up to a showdown between the two governors over our electric rates," said Amy's Kitchen Chief Operating Officer Scott Reed. "We winced at the articles."

Reed said his company's rates in Oregon will be one-third of what they would have been with PG&E, but his company put its second plant in Oregon for strategic reasons, including the potential of an earthquake in California.

"We didn't make the decision because we're going to save money in Oregon," he said. "That's just a consequence of the decision. It's a business risk decision. We just didn't want to have all our eggs in one basket."

Details of PG&E's new economic development rate program are still shaky, including who will sift the applications and decide whether businesses truly need rate discounts.

"We certainly don't want to be the ones that have to make that decision," said PG&E spokeswoman Dennis, adding that the responsibility would fall to a state Labor and Workforce Development Agency division.

"That's news to me," said labor agency spokeswoman Jehan Flagg. The agency has no information about the program beyond what the Public Utilities Commission announced in a press release, she added.

Lamb is a reporter for the Sacramento Business Journal.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hurricane's impact on local economy remains to be seen

Article Launched: 09/18/2005 08:02:12 AM

Economic outlook
Hurricane's impact on local economy remains to be seen

By Reporter Staff

News of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina may have some economists worried, but locally, its full impact on the region remains to be seen.

Employers in Solano and Napa counties expect to hire at a strong pace during the fourth quarter of 2005, according to a nationwide employment survey released earlier this week.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which was released Tuesday, showed that from October to December, 23 percent of the companies interviewed said they plan to hire more employees, while none expected to reduce their payrolls. Another 44 percent expected to maintain their current staff levels and 33 percent were not certain of their hiring plans.

Still, the full impact of Hurricane Katrina on the economy has yet to be felt and Manpower officials noted they collected their data prior to the hurricane hitting the Gulf Coast region.

"It is too early to tell (the impact) because they still need to get things together down there in terms of what they will rebuild and when," said Greg Gardner, spokesman for Manpower's Fairfield office. "So I think for the fourt quarter (employment) numbers we won't see an impact but the first quarter (2006) numbers are in flux."

Data prior to the disaster showed that employers in Solano and Napa counties were expecting "slightly more favorable hiring conditions" for the fourth quarter than in the third quarter when 27 percent of the companies interviewed intended to add staff, and 7 percent planned to reduce headcount, said Gardner. "Employers express hiring plans that are identical to those reported a year ago when 23 percent of companies surveyed thought employment increases were likely and none intended to cut back," he said.

For the coming quarter, job prospects appear best in durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, wholesale/retail trade and services, while employers in education, transportation/public utilities and public administration are unsure of their hiring intentions. Hiring in other sectors is expected to remain unchanged.

Michael Ammann, director of the Solano Economic Development Corp., said he doesn't expect the local region to take much of an economic hit at all from the hurricane.

"I don't see a lot of overall impact other than those individuals or companies who have customer relationships with someone there," Ammann said, noting that most manufactures in this area ship regionally or to countries overseas.

Communities around the hurricane zone will, of course, feel significant impact, Ammann said, noting that firms whose facilities were hit by the storm will likely look to relocate somewhere nearby in order to keep their employment base.

Katrina's economic toll continues to mount in the Gulf Coast region with rising energy prices, snarled shipping traffic, lost jobs and wrecked businesses.

Estimates are as high as 400,000 for the number of individuals who have lost jobs there.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez this week urged business leaders to invest in the Gulf Coast region, saying the private sector must play a role in rebuilding the hurricane-devastated area.

"I hope businesses will consider investing and locating enterprises in the rebuilding zone," he said.

And the Labor Department this week set up a new Web site to help people who have lost jobs due to Katrina find new work.

The site - katrinajobs - is designed to help people lookign for new full-time employment either in their home state or in the state where they have relocated and to also provide informaiton on part-time employment in the hurricane cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Milk Farm Development Plan Update

Article Launched: 09/18/2005 08:02:14 AM

Milk Farm vision vies on reality

By David Henson/Staff Writer

A Davis inventor's vision to revitalize the former Milk Farm restaurant site in Dixon may move closer to reality Tuesday night. Transforming the long-vacant landmark back into the city's gateway, however, will take more time and additional environmental studies.

Dixon planning commissioners will consider recommending four separate measures relating to the 62-acre project, which has been in the works, off and on, since 1997.

In addition to two resolutions relating to the zoning for the project, commissioners also will weigh the project's final environmental impact report and a request for the Solano Local Agency Formation Commission for the city to annex the land.

Chief among the issues raised in the environmental impact report are the unavoidable effects the project will have on traffic in the city and along an already congested Interstate 80.

But the ultimate effects the project could have on traffic and other issues is somewhat nebulous, since the developer, Milk Farm Associates, headed by Davis businessman and inventor Paul Moller, has yet to pitch firm development plans - only a visionary, conceptual plan.

"The applicant's intent is to submit development applications at a later date," City Manager Warren Salmons said in a staff report.

Those more detailed plans would be subject to additional review by the city before work on the site could begin.

"This is definitely not the last word," said Steve Peterson, Moller's Milk Farm project point man. He added that there is still plenty of time to collaborate with community members on the project.

Under the project's current conceptual plan, Milk Farm Associates wants to build a two-phase, 30-acre development. The first phase would transform 14 acres into a 200,000-square-foot retail center to include a transportation center, a cafe similar to the historic Milk Farm restaurant, a fine-dining restaurant and shops that support the site's historical, agricultural themes.

The group also could include a four acre campus-style headquarters for Moller International, Paul Moller's vehicle for researching, manufacturing and promoting his flying car called a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.

The project's second phase could include a hotel and conference center.

The plan also calls for 30 acres of agricultural land, including a pond.

By getting the project site rezoned and annexed prior to submitting development plans, the development group could increase the value of the land and give businesses confidence in investing in the project, said Jack Allison, former vice president of Moller International and an investor in the Milk Farm project.

"We want to use this project as a new gateway to Dixon," Allison said. "We will move ahead as rapidly as we can."

It also simplifies the approval process, said Peterson, who works for Environmental Stewardship and Planning in Sacramento.

"Gaining the annexation makes the development process more streamlined," Peterson added. "Actually, we prefer it. There's great logic in taking it in a step-by-step manner."

Planning commissioners will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall on 600 East A St.

David Henson can be reached at

Mills Corp., Sierra Club present separate plans for fairgrounds

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:20:54 pm PDT

Virginia-based Mills Corp. and the Sierra Club have presented two similar plans for Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo. (Christine Baker/Daily Republic file (2000) )

Mills Corp., Sierra Club present separate plans for fairgrounds

By Christine Cubé

VALLEJO - You might call it a fair game.

The players: Environmental group Sierra Club and Virginia-based retail developer Mills Corp. Each submitted development proposals to redo the Solano County Fairgrounds. Each proposed a significant amount of green space combined with other structures for a variety of uses, including a new spot to serve the Solano County Fair.

Mills wants to develop an open-air lifestyle center called The Fair at Solano. The plan calls for retail and entertainment, residential townhomes and apartments, an exposition center, agricultural education center, gardens, bicycle trail and a county welcome center complete with an open-air market to showcase Solano County's produce.

Minus the Hobby Horses and the Nut Tree train, you might think the project mirrors the new Nut Tree development in Vacaville.

But not really.

First District Supervisor Barbara Kondylis likens the Mills proposal to Santana Row in San Jose.

"It's a very complex project," Kondylis said. "There's more retail with housing above in a Main Street kind of plan. If all goes well, it will probably be the most unique development proposal. It's creating a whole village . . . It's kind of exciting."

The Sierra Club proposed an alternate plan to the Mills project. It looks a lot like the Mills project with a huge portion of wetland restoration and an open field to serve the fair and other recreational activities such as sports games.

Refereeing this match is the Solano County Fair Association Board of Directors and the Solano County Board of Supervisors. A decision is to be made by year end regarding the future of the 150-acre fairground property in Vallejo.

Mills Corp. contacted the Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau roughly six months ago to work on the welcome center of the proposed development, said Mike Browne, vice president of marketing for the bureau.

"The proposal that Mills has is something that would be a boost to the economy and tourism," Browne said, adding Vallejo is a "gateway to many things," namely the wine country. The city has 25 hotels, representing about 1,000 hotel rooms.

"That project and projects like it that are going to enhance retail and bring visitors, we support," Browne said. "We're all for that."

Mills Corp. is not new to this type of development. In fact, it's not even new to the state of California. The company has seven major retail destinations in the state including the Great Mall in Milpitas, Hilltop Mall in Richmond, the Piers 27-31 in San Francisco, Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton and Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance.

In the last couple of years, Mills Corp. acquired dozens of properties nationwide including regional malls and open-air shopping centers. The company owns 42 properties in the United States, Canada and Europe, totaling 51 million square feet. Its real estate portfolio generated more than $8.7 billion in sales last year.

"The Mills product line has evolved," said Brian Clark, development director for the Mills Corporation project in Solano County. "We're such innovators in retail, there is nothing 'normal.' Every one of our projects is different."

Environmentalists and other groups opposing the Mills plan said the project will draw unwanted traffic to Vallejo and that the retail developer is not eco-friendly.

Clark says otherwise. He recalled several years ago when Mills Corp. partnered with the Sierra Club to protect a critical habitat near one of its developments in Texas. This fall, the company will begin stream enhancements and the construction of replacement wetlands for a project in suburban Pittsburgh.

But in California, a group opposing the overall Mills plan - the Fairgrounds Coalition for Responsible Development - released a recent traffic study that was put together by Fresno-based VRPA Technologies Inc. The study found the Mills plan would significantly impact traffic exceeding a five-mile radius, causing area intersections to fail at peak hours of the day and impeding access to downtown Vallejo and the waterfront areas. The study found the Mills development would generate 44,180 car trips each day.

Representatives with the fairgrounds coalition and the Sierra Club didn't return calls seeking comment.

In a statement, coalition member Paula Culbertson said having the public pay for any of the road improvements needed for the Mills mega mall is equivalent to a taxpayer-financed sports stadium.

"Any public costs for traffic improvements, road maintenance and other municipal services must be factored into any proported community benefits in terms of tax revenue from the Mills mega-mall," she said.

Mills Corp. responded to the county's request for qualifications on the fairgrounds redevelopment several years ago. The group was selected as the master developer in September 2003.

Last week, the group submitted a preliminary proposal to county fair officials, complete with a detailed traffic study, habitat study and construction phasing plan.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Handling of proposed Dixon Downs racetrack is exemplary

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:21:53 pm PDT

Handling of racetrack is exemplary

By Daily Republic Staff

No one should fault the city of Dixon for doing everything it can to inform its citizens about the controversial Dixon Downs racetrack project proposed in the city.

The racetrack, planned for 260 acres outside the city's downtown core, undoubtedly will have a major influence on the city's future. That is why environmental impact reports are required for major development projects in communities.

Those reports for Dixon Downs are due out next week, some 1,800 pages that will address most of the concerns raised during the last few years since Magna Entertainment Corp. first hinted it would like to build the track and its entertainment components in Dixon.

What's unique is the length the city is going to make sure its citizens are knowledgeable about the Magna proposal. That is, if citizens take the time to peruse the documents.

Not only will there be an environmental impact study, but also a safety impact report, an assessment of social impacts, fiscal impacts and a revised plan for the city's northeast part of town. Dixon intends to provide copies of the document at City Hall and the library, and also will post them on the city's Web site and even burn some CDs so residents can learn more about the project.

And one more step. Normally, the review period for EIRs is 45 days. The City Council has asked that that period be extended to 60 days so the public has additional time to review the lengthy reports.

Magna plans to build the racetrack complex in two phases. The first phase would include a horse-racing and training facility, 1,400 horse stalls and 200,000 square-foot pavilion with simulcast technology and room for 5,000 race visitors. The second would involve a 1.2-million square-foot retail development with stores, restaurants, a theater, office space, a hotel and conference area.

While there is a strong opposition to the plan, there also are proponents who believe the complex will generate millions to Dixon's city coffers in years to come, and that would be a good thing.

Council members are expected to vote on the racetrack sometime this fall.

The city has done an admirable job providing information so citizens can influence the decision by the council using facts rather than pure emotion.

Fairfield could soon have $1 million to start designing the final phase of its transportation center - a 600-space parking garage

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:18:26 pm PDT

MTC to vote on parking-garage funds

By Barry Eberling

- Fairfield could soon have $1 million to start designing the final phase of its transportation center - a 600-space parking garage.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission will vote on allocating the money Sept. 21. The money is to come from tolls collected on regional bridges.

Fairfield's transportation center is located on six acres at West Texas Street and Beck Avenue. People can park there and catch buses and carpools for their commute to work.

The center has a 400-space parking garage that opened in 2001 and a 240-space parking lot that opened in January. Building a final, 600-space parking garage could cost more than $12 million.

Fairfield Transportation Manager Kevin Daughton believes the demand for the extra space will be there in the long-term. He pointed to the popularity of the transportation center.

"I'd say that on any given day, you have approximately 50 spaces available," Daughton said.

The new parking lot is full by 7:30 a.m. About the only spaces available at the center are on the top floor of the existing parking garage, he said.

Doing the environmental and design work for the proposed, additional parking garage could take a year to 18 months, Daughton said. Building it could take another year to 18 months, he said.

Fairfield already has $7 million to $8 million available for the garage from toll money, he said. That leaves another $4 million or so it needs to find.

Suisun City Mayor Jim Spering is Solano County's representative on MTC. He said in a press release the transportation center needs more spaces.

Fairfield-Suisun Transit and Vallejo Transit have express buses linking the center to BART stations and the Vallejo ferry terminal. Both bus operators are reluctant to increase service to the center because there's too little parking, Spering said.

"This project will accommodate the new commuters, and allow transit operators to expand service," Spering said.

Planned features at the new garage include more bike lockers, electronic displays with the latest bus arrival and departure information and shop space for small retailers, the MTC press release said.

The target for the new garage is 600 spaces. Daughton said the exact number won't be known until the design work is completed. Neither will the garage's precise location at the transportation center site.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Fairfield City Council to discuss proposed sports complex

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 11:17:48 pm PDT

Fairfield City Council to discuss proposed sports complex

By Matthew Bunk

- When the city unveiled a plan last year to build homes and offices on Allan Witt Park, city officials promised to replace all of the lost park acreage and recreational facilities by building a sports complex on the outskirts of town.

They said a new complex on Cordelia Road would have more recreational amenities than Allan Witt Park and its 43 acres of baseball diamonds and ball fields would satisfy the desires of local athletic clubs. They said it would be new and improved, and they said it would increase the amount of park space in the city.

They failed to mention at the time they might allow a private company to oversee the sports complex, might charge an admission fee and might actually raise city revenue by charging teams to play pick-up games and tournaments there. There were no such fees at Allan Witt Park, unless someone or some team wanted to rent the area and keep others off.

But the city doesn't want anyone to become upset over the idea of charging fees at the new complex, especially because no decisions have been made yet.

"There have been no decisions on what fees, if any, will be charged," city project manager David White said Friday.

Still, a report to the City Council suggested the city hire a consultant, at a cost of almost $50,000, to "perform a market, financial and economic impact analysis" of the proposed complex and to assist "in the selection of a facility operator." The consultant would be paid up to $140 an hour.

One option under consideration is whether to allow the city to run the facility or to hire a private operator. The city has discussed and the report mentions athletic complex developer Big League Dreams as a possible firm to operate the sports complex.

Big League Dreams builds and operates recreational facilities recognized as some of the best complexes in the nation. The profitable company has won several awards and was even named "Business of the Year" by a Southern California city.

The company's reputation for quality might not be in question, but the amount of money one has to pay to get into one of those facilities might be. For instance, a Big League Dreams complex in Redding charges a $2 admission fee for adults and $1 for children, and that doesn't include costs for using equipment such as batting cages.

These pay-to-play facilities would be considered parkland, according to the city, that would count toward its obligation to create more park acreage under the Revised Parks Capital Projects Plan adopted by the City Council in 2002.

In other business, the City Council will discuss:

n A development agreement with Garaventa Properties to build commercial and residential buildings on 79 acres north of Interstate 80 and east of Suisun Valley Road.

n Renewing its partnership with Solano Economic Development Corp. at a yearly cost of $45,000. Solano EDC works to attract business to Fairfield and other Solano County cities.

n An agreement to expand and modernize the Waterman Water Treatment Plant.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

At a Glance

Who: Fairfield City Council

What: Meeting to discuss: a proposed sports complex on Cordelia Road, a commercial and residential development by Garaventa Properties, among other topics.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Council Chamber at City Hall, 1000 Webster St.


Solano Country's New Agricultural Commissioner Jerry Howard

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Sep 17, 2005 - 12:28:05 am PDT

Solano's ag commissioner is happy in new job

By Jeff Mitchell

- It may be a bit of an agricultural metaphor, but Jerry Howard is definitely a man in the tall clover.

New Agricultural Commissioner Jerry Howard works at his desk. Howard has been on the job two months. (Jeff Mitchell)

Howard, 58, is Solano County's new agriculture commissioner and sealer of the county's weights and measures.

On the job now just shy of two months, Howard finds himself newly invigorated after spending some 25 years as Calaveras County's agriculture commissioner.

"I haven't been this happy in years. It's great to be focusing on agriculture again," Howard said.

Howard started his career as a agricultural biologist in Calaveras County in 1968 and became that county's agriculture commissioner in 1980. He appreciated his former job but over time, the post became too engrossed with other, non-agriculture-related responsibilities.

In Solano County, Howard happily keeps an eye on a growing $205 million agricultural economy that features more than 50 different kinds of crops and commodities. He also directs the county's regulatory oversight of some 6,000 commercial weight and measurement devices, such as gas pumps and produce scales in supermarkets, all with a budget of about $2.8 million.

In the few weeks he's been on the job, Howard has found his staff of 30 both professionally competent and eager to work. He succeeds Susan Cohen, who served as agricultural commissioner for almost 16 years.

One goal Howard has already laid down will be the eradication of non-native invasive species such as the glassy-wing sharpshooter, which poses a serious threat to the county's wine industry. The sharpshooter is a inch-long flying insect that transmits a virus that shuts down a grape plant's ability to take in water from the soil. Howard also worries about the spread of sudden oak death across the county.

The department will also help broker the often tense debate between development and the loss of farmland as well as the controversies that surround the development of large-scale confined animal facilities (poultry and dairy processing) that are located near human population centers.

Howard believes the county should do all it can to help promote agriculture, especially as a tourism device. He is specifically thinking about helping promote Solano County as a wine region not unlike Napa or Sonoma counties that produce premium quality wines.

In general, Howard thinks the farmer or rancher is an underappreciated creature and he hopes his department will be viewed by the industry as balanced regulators and strong advocates for those who grow or raise a good chunk of the state's food production.

"Our job is to enforce the rules and regulations equally so that no one gets an unfair business advantage," Howard said. "That said, I do we have a duty to advocate for and defend the industry when appropriate."

Another pleasant discovery for Howard is the county's focus on farmland preservation - a thing he believes isn't only critical for the agriculture industry but also for the quality of life and well-being of Solano County residents.

"I can say with certainty that we will never pave over our county farmlands like the way they have in other nearby places," Howard said.

Reach Jeff Mitchell at 427-6977 or

Jearl (Jerry) D. Howard biography:

Age: 58

Term: Four years

Took office: July 25

Salary: $111,437 a year

Previous post: Agriculture Commissioner, Calaveras County

Place of birth: Stockton

Raised: Mountain Ranch

City of residence: Vacaville

Married: 37 years to wife Betty; they have two adult children

Hobbies: Hunting, coin collecting

New affordable senior apartment complex under construction in Dixon

Article Launched: 09/17/2005 08:01:49 AM

Second Street starts
New affordable senior apartment complex under construction in Dixon

By Reporter Staff

Construction crews work on the new Second Street Senior Apartments project in Dixon. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

Construction has begun on a new affordable senior apartment project in Dixon.

With completion and pre-leasing expected for early next year the Second Street Senior Apartments will include 81 units, according to builder Simpson Housing Solutions LLC.

The project was developed by Long Beach-based Simpson and the nonprofit Foundation for Affordable Housing II, Inc. It will offer one- and two-bedroom units with one bath, ranging from 535 to 705 square feet. All units will be set aside for seniors age 55 and older earning from 50 percent to 60 percent of the area median income for Solano County, as established by HUD. Rents will range from $692 to $981 per month, depending on household income.

From its location in the 200 block of North Second Street in Dixon, the apartment complex will offer its future residents "convenient access to shopping, restaurants, recreation, the Dixon Seniors Multi-Use Center, local parks and the public library," according to a press release issued this week by Simpson Housing.

Amenities at the complex will include a community room, computer center, pool and spa, barbecue areas, laundry rooms and professional landscaping.

Individual apartments will feature built-in appliances, central heating and air conditioning, mini-blinds, smoke alarms and patios or balconies.

But physical amenities aren't the only thing this development will offer. Once the community opens up, the developers plan to offer a variety of on-site social programs including computer training classes and recreational activities.

Second Street Senior Apartments is being financed through a combination of low-income housing tax credit equity and a loan from the city of Dixon's Redevelopment Agency. Total development cost of the project is about $12 million.

The apartment complex is comprised of six two-story buildings in California contemporary style surrounding the recreation/office building. They will feature stucco exteriors, wood trim and accents and clay tile roofs. The goal, say developers, is to create an affordable community while also offering style and amenities like those found in market-rate housing. The project was designed by KTGY Group Inc.

"As Americans continue living longer, the need continues growing in communities all across the nation for high-quality affordable housing designed to provide more choices for seniors on limited incomes," said Michael Costa, president of Simpson Homes. "Thanks to tax credit financing, our company has developed and/or invested in more than 26,000 units of both family and senior housing nationwide."

He added that the firm is proud to add Dixon to its growing list of communities.

Those interested in being placed on a list or learning more about income eligibility for the new complex should call 1-800-290-0277, Ext. 4.

Second Street Senior Apartments
Location: 211 Second St. Dixon
No. of Units: 81
Size: One- and two-bedroom
Square feet: 535 to 705
Rents: $692 to $981 per month, depending on household income.
Contact: 1-800-290-0277, Ext. 4.

Solano County freeways best-flowing traffic in the Bay Area.

Solano highways see increase in congestion

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Solano County freeways saw congestion rise by 9 percent in 2004, but still had the best-flowing traffic in the Bay Area.

Those are among the findings in a newly released freeway congestion report by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and state Department of Transportation.

Caltrans each year drives vehicles on regional freeways to see how fast traffic is moving. It defines a delay as speeds falling below 35 mph for 15 minutes or more. It then figures out the total hours drivers waste fighting traffic on an average weekday.

The report estimates drivers lost 2,830 hours daily to traffic on Solano County freeways in 2004. That's up from the 2,600 hours in 2003, but down from the 3,700 hours in 2002.

And it's nowhere near the congestion experienced in other Bay Area counties. Drivers on Alameda County freeways experienced 50,540 hours of traffic delays daily. Drivers on Contra Costa County freeways experienced 18,520.

Across the region, the number of hours drivers lost to congestion rose by 4 percent in 2004. Transportation leaders think they know why.

"A brighter employment picture put more workers onto Bay Area freeways last year," MTC chairman Jon Rubin said, in a press release.

That same trend may be continuing this year, he said. Congestion statistics for 2005 will be available early next year.

Caltrans needs to respond to the traffic increase by managing the freeway system more efficiently, Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi said. He mentioned such things as ramp metering, changeable message signs with accurate travel times and the FasTrak toll collection system.

MTC and Caltrans also listed the top 10 traffic "hot spots" in the Bay Area. No Solano County location made the list.

The most-congested Bay Area location is the morning approach to the Bay Bridge on Interstate 80. Drivers last year experienced 10,080 hours of traffic delays daily there.

Solano County's "hot spot" is at the interstates 80 and 680 interchange at Cordelia in the evening, according to the report.

This is where Highway 12 and Interstate 680 merge into I-80. People driving the stretch of I-80 from the interchange to the California Highway Patrol truck scales faced a total of 840 hours of traffic delays daily in 2004.

The second-worst spot was along northbound I-680 in the evening just before the interchange. Drivers here faced 620 hours of delays daily.

But conditions have changed since much of that data got collected. Caltrans in fall 2004 opened new lanes along a 2.5-mile stretch of I-80 near the Cordelia truck scales. The goal was to make traffic here flow better.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Daily Vehicle Hours of Delay on Bay Area Freeways

Alameda County - 138 miles of freeway, 50,540 hours.

Santa Clara County - 137 miles of freeway, 22,910 hours.

Contra Costa County - 87 miles, 18,520 hours.

San Mateo County - 73 miles, 9,550 hours.

San Francisco County - 19 miles, 9,490 hours.

Marin County - 28 miles, 7,410 hours.

Sonoma County - 55 miles, 5,320 hours.

Solano County - 79 miles, 2,830 hours

California’s economy added 17,200 jobs in August, accounting for 10.1 percent of the 169,000 jobs created nationwide

California adds 17,200 jobs in August
The Associated Press
Published: September 16, 2005 17:42

THE HEADLINE—California’s economy added 17,200 jobs in August, accounting for 10.1 percent of the 169,000 jobs created nationwide, the state Employment Development Department said Friday.

More than 14.8 million people in the state held payroll jobs during the month (not including farm workers and the self-employed).

SHORT-TERM TREND—The state continues to closely mirror national job trends. While the number of jobs created in August was less than the revised 38,100 jobs created in July, overall this year California has kept pace with national job growth.

“We need about 20,000 to 25,000 jobs a month to keep pace with labor force growth, and we’ve been there recently,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

HOSPITALITY, TRADE JOBS GAIN—The trade, transportation and utilities sectors showed the strongest gains in August, gaining 7,400 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. Hotel, food and similar jobs also increased and are up for the year due to a resurgence of tourism in the state.

“This is a very strong year for tourism, even in the (San Francisco) Bay area,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach showed increases in both import and export activity in August, Kyser said.

Job declines were seen in manufacturing, information and other services during the month.

From August 2004 to August 2005, the state has added a total of 223,900 jobs, led by gains in construction with 60,900 jobs.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE—The state’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in August, unchanged from a revised rate of 5.2 percent in July. A year ago, it was 6.1 percent.

FEWER JOB HUNTERS—930,000 Californians were looking for work last month, up 12,000 from July but down 137,000 compared to August of last year.

THE OUTLOOK—The August jobs report reflects the situation before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and a spike in gasoline prices. Nationally, economists are expecting an economic slowdown for the next few fiscal quarters because of Katrina.

“The impact on jobs may come in the holiday season if consumers have less to spend because more of their budget is being taken up by gasoline and energy related items,” Levy said.


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Rural housing gets OK for a 32-home gated community in the rural hills north of Vacaville

Article Last Updated: 9/17/2005 08:01 AM

Rural housing gets OK

By Jason Massad/Staff Writer

A controversial proposal for a 32-home gated community in the rural hills north of Vacaville was approved this week by the Solano County Planning Commission.
The 4-1 vote, with new commissioner Stephanie Gomes dissenting, forwards the plan for the 80-acre Dove Creek Ranch subdivision to the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

The board is scheduled to review the proposal at its regular meeting Nov. 1.

Sure to greet the board at that meeting is a group of residents who live near the development, proposed to be built on old cattle-grazing land between Peaceful Glen and Cantelow roads.

Residents nearby are concerned that the gated development, with landscaped lawns and a fence around it, might detract from the rural beauty of the area and foster even more development.

Sandy DeGeorge, who lives on nearby Dry Creek Trail, said she is still hopeful that a compromise on some of the more divisive elements of the development could still be agreed to.

"We left the meeting last (Thursday) night and it was a bit depressing," she said. "But there's no reason to be upset. We want to see it proceed in an intelligent fashion that's not harmful to the surrounding property owners. It's not a win-lose situation."

The main bone of contention among residents is a development plan that seemingly skirts 2.5-acre minimum parcel sizes established in the rural hills.

The development would average out to 2.5 acres per house, but it would cluster top-of-the-line custom homes on lots ranging from 1.3 to 3.8 acres.

County officials and Dove Creek developers say the arrangement is made possible under a rarely invoked "policy plan overlay" district, aimed at fostering smart development in the unincorporated areas.

Possible environmental impacts on the property, including a stock pond favored by wildlife and seasonal Sweeney Creek, can be avoided by the arrangement.

But Planning Commissioner John Moore, at the meeting to discuss the proposal, said he was skeptical about the use of the planning device, proposed only for the never-built White Wing development in Fairfield.

"If the code says the zoning will allow 2 1/2 acres, the average person would think that means 2 1/2 acres," he said. "If I understand correctly, you just said that was a guideline."

Opponents of the proposal argued this week that 2.5-acre minimum lot sizes are necessary for septic systems that will be needed for each of the new homes.

Clustering the subdivision could create problems about the sewage properly draining or could possibly contaminate nearby wells, they argued.

Residents also worry what the "policy plan overlay" district might mean for the future.

As part of the Dove Creek Ranch Development, a road will link Peaceful Glen and Cantelow roads. To the south of the Dove Creek Ranch proposal, is another parcel of about 100 acres that could now be accessed for more development.

"This sets a precedent for everything that they are going to do later on," said Barbara Havlin, who lives near the development. "

Jason Massad can be reached at

East Bay job market stays strong

Posted on Fri, Sep. 16, 2005

East Bay job market stays strong

By George Avalos

The East Bay job market charted a robust course during in August and is looking much stronger than it did a year ago, according to a state report released Friday.

Other parts of the Bay Area turned in more of a mixed performance, a Times analysis of the Employment Development Department monthly report shows.

It looks as if the East Bay has completely recovered from the economic doldrums of a few years ago. Over the 12 months that ended in August, the East Bay added more than 15,000 payroll jobs.

The East Bay job base grew 1.5 percent over the year. That was double the pace of Bay Area job growth of 0.7 percent over the same period and equal to the 1.5 percent pace for all of California.

The performance of the East Bay job market in August also was stronger compared to recent trends. Because of seasonal employment patterns, the East Bay lost 900 jobs during the month of August. But in August 2004, the East Bay lost 1,200 jobs.

Over the last year, the Bay Area added 1,100 jobs. Among the Bay Area's primary metro centers, the East Bay, Solano County and the San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin region added jobs. Santa Clara County, Sonoma County and Napa County lost jobs during the year.

Statewide, California added 17,200 jobs during August. The state's jobless rate was 5.2 percent, unchanged from July.


© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Rockville Trails Estates new proposal puts 370 homes on 1,580 acres in hills north of Rockville Hills Park including 810 acres of open space

Article Last Updated: Sunday, Sep 18, 2005 - 11:18:54 pm PDT

Water issues cloud proposed Rockville Hills community

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Figuring out how to provide water for the proposed Rockville Trails Estates community is among the issues that will delay the release of the project's environmental study.

Solano County expected the study to be done by now, but finishing the document will take at least a few weeks longer.

Rockville Trails Estates is a new version of the controversial White Wing Estates proposal from the 1990s. The county turned down White Wing as inappropriate for rural land.

The new proposal puts 370 homes on 1,580 acres in hills north of Rockville Hills Park. The project includes 810 acres of open space that is to have a public trail system.

Homes would get water from wells drawing on the Suisun Valley aquifer, but figuring out how to do this has proven a sticking point.

The Solano Irrigation District is working with the developer on the issue.

"The tricky thing about it is it's an area where we're not quite sure how much water there is," said Jim Daniels, engineering and planning manager for SID. "We have to verify the amount of water available."

That means doing test pumping and watching the effects on adjacent wells, Daniels said. SID will oversee the pumping and the developer will pay for it, he said. He was uncertain how long this will take.

Rockville Trails Estates developers also considered having SID run the proposed community's sewage treatment system. But the agency at this point isn't interested.

"We're asking them to take that option out of their report," Daniels said.

The SID board will discuss Rockville Trails Estates when it meets at 7 p.m. today at its headquarters at 508 Elmira Road in Vacaville.

Residents and agencies earlier this year had the chance to write in what issues they wanted the Rockville Trails Estates environmental study to cover.

The Green Valley Landowners Association fought the White Wing Estates project. It submitted a number of concerns over the new project, such as increased traffic in Green Valley.

"The pace of development should never overwhelm our existing community resources or adversely impact the environment of this unique area and regional resource," the association wrote.

Other letters made more general comments. The Cordelia Fire District wants to make certain the environmental study addresses issues involving firefighting.

It's possible Rockville Trails Estates could go before the county Planning Commission in November and the Board of Supervisors in December, county planning manager Mike Yankovich said, but that will depend on how long it takes the consultant to finish the environmental study.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

At a glance

Who: Solano Irrigation District Board

What: Discussion on water issues relating to the proposed Rockville Trails Estates development.

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: SID offices, 508 Elmira Road, Vacaville

Info: 448-6847

The Villages at Fairfield building 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres by Lewis Planned Communities before Fairfield City Council on Tuesday

Article Last Updated: Sunday, Sep 18, 2005 - 11:19:29 pm PDT

Council to consider large development near Cement Hill

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - City councilmembers on Tuesday will pass judgment on a massive, proposed community near Cement Hill Road in northeast Fairfield.

The Villages at Fairfield is one of the council's last chances within existing city growth boundaries to shape a large development from scratch. The council advocates pedestrian-friendly communities.

But building 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres at this particular site poses challenges. The developer must work around such constraints as wetlands and a stand of rare Contra Costa goldfield flowers.

Council members meet at 7 p.m. in their chamber at 1000 Webster St.

Vice Mayor Harry Price on Friday said the plan by Lewis Planned Communities addresses most of his major concerns. The developer has worked with the city for months on the proposal, including appearing at City Council study sessions.

Residents in the new development will be able to walk to school, a planned shopping center and the planned Fairfield-Vacaville train station, Price said. The trail and path system in the development will take vehicle traffic off nearby roads, he said.

"That was a major one for me," Price said.

He also praised such things as the 130 units in the Homecomings apartment complex to be set aside for Travis Air Force Base personnel and a community center Lewis is to build near the planned elementary school.

"I know there are folks in town that are looking at this project as the next place they'd like to live," Price said.

But, Price said, even if Lewis gets council approval, it must still get environmental permits from various regulatory agencies.

"That I'm sure is going to be a challenge," Price said. "Any time you're dealing with wetlands issues or endangered species, there is always that big question."

The Planning Commission on Aug. 17 recommended approval of the Villages.

Commissioners had been particularly concerned about traffic problems the new development could cause.

Lewis proposes to make improvements to various roads in the area, such as Manuel Campos Parkway. Some of these improvements are beyond those called for in the environmental study.

"Pretty much all the traffic has been taken care of," Commissioner Thomas Mattis said at the Aug. 17 hearing.

To approve the project, the council must also approve a "statement of overriding considerations." This statement acknowledges there are environmental effects from the project that cannot be overcome.

The Villages environmental study finds one such case: Air pollution. Building the development means more cars and more smog. The City Council can rule the benefits of the development outweigh this negative.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

At a glance

Who: Fairfield City Council

What: The Villages at Fairfield development

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: City Council chamber, 1000 Webster St.

Info: 428-7461

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