Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dixon Downs Support Group Organizes

Dixon Downs Support Group Organizes
McNaughton Newspapers

DIXON - Supporters of Dixon Downs who represent businesses and trade unions formed a group called Off and Running for Dixon Downs.

The group believes the proposed racetrack and retail complex would boost the local economy and deserves Dixon residents' support.

"We've had enough of all this negativism and 'gloom and doom' from the group called Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth," spokesperson Del Holly said in a news release, speaking of the project's opposition group. "We are confident that Dixon Downs will be of the highest quality and we can hardly wait for the official ground-breaking to take place.

"It will add to the local economy in a meaningful way," Holly said. "It will provide the community with benefits. And we don't want it to go by the wayside because of a few short-sighted naysayers."

Off and Running for Dixon Downs is made up of members of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Dixon Business Association and several Solano County trade unions that Off and Running for Dixon Downs said represent working families in Dixon.

The group, which grew significantly in November following a vendor and jobs fair sponsored by Magna Entertainment Corp., the would-be builder of Dixon Downs, plans to meet with community members one on one and in groups, mail information to them and advertise.

If approved this year by the Dixon City Council, Magna Entertainment Corp. would build a 260-acre racetrack and entertainment complex on Dixon's north side next to Interstate 80. The council last week began fine-tuning a list of topics for negotiation of a development agreement with Magna, if the project gets that far.

Transportation Leaders Polish Tax-Spending List

Transportation Leaders Polish Tax-Spending List
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD -Transportation leaders on Wednesday will decide if they have a projects list that could sell a county transportation sales tax to the public.

A half-cent transportation sales tax measure could appear on the June 6 ballot. It could raise an estimated $1.5 billion over 30 years for local roads and mass transit.

The proposed list has six major categories, such as highway improvements and commuter mass transit. Within those broad categories are such projects as improving the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange, widening Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon to four lanes and improving train service for commuters.

"That plan can be tweaked a little bit," Solano Transportation Improvement Authority chairman Jim Spering said. "I'm sure we'll get some suggestions at the meeting."

But Spering, also the Suisun City mayor, doesn't foresee dramatic changes. The list reflects what people said in public hearings and a transportation tax telephone poll, he said.

The STIA Board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Once the STIA board approves a proposed list and tax, it will send the proposals to the county Board of Supervisors and the seven city councils in the county. The Board of Supervisors and at least four cities representing a majority of the city populations must approve the plan for it to go forward.

If that happens, the STIA board will take a final vote on Feb. 22. Then the proposed tax measure would go back to the county Board of Supervisors, which has the power to place it on the ballot.

Meanwhile, efforts continue to try to head off a transportation tax/growth debate that might stop the measure from getting the two-thirds vote it needs to pass.

County Supervisors Duane Kromm and Barbara Kondylis, then-Fairfield Mayor Karin MacMillan and the Greenbelt Alliance were among those opposing a 2004 transportation sales tax measure. They said the freeway and road improvements envisioned would spur sprawl growth, which in turn would make the freeways congested all over again. An answer, they said, was to include growth control incentives in the tax measure.

The 2004 measure got almost 64 percent of the vote, short of the 67 percent it needed.

It's unlikely the planned June 6 transportation tax measure will include growth controls. Spering has said such a measure couldn't pass and has cited a phone survey. The survey of 600 voters said 72 percent of the public thinks growth controls should be addressed in a separate measure.

Sales tax supporters met twice in recent weeks with representatives from the Solano Orderly Growth Committee and Greenbelt Alliance, Kromm said. He described what he thinks can be done to protect open space and farmlands, even as roads and highways improve.

One key issue is building support for an early renewal of Solano County's orderly growth law, which expires in 2010, Kromm said. That law, approved by voters in 1984, keeps most development out of the unincorporated county and directs it to the existing cities.

He would like the orderly growth law renewed before county supervisors vote on a new General Plan, which dictates land uses in the rural county.

The other key issue is starting a regional parks district, Kromm said. Such a district could be a local version of the East Bay Regional Park District in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, running a string of parks where people could hike and do other outdoor activities.

But the two sides would need to build a level of trust if there was no direct link between the transportation sales tax measure and growth issues.

"I'm alternately optimistic and pessimistic," Kromm said.

Spering said that transportation tax supporters want to listen and see if various concerns can be addressed. He agreed that growth is an important issue and added cities are already doing such things as building to higher densities.

"I'm not sure how you give them the assurance that stuff will continue to be pursued by the cities," Spering said. "That's where it breaks down, the level of trust."

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

At a glance

Who: Solano Transportation Improvement Authority

What: Proposed transportation sales tax spending list

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Where: Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Info: 424-6075

Proposed county transportation sales tax spending list

- 40 percent to highway improvements. Includes improving the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange and widening Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon.

- 20 percent to local street maintenance.

- 12 percent to commuter mass transit. Includes new commuter rail service and expanding Vallejo ferry service.

- 10 percent to safety projects.

- 10 percent to the county and its seven cities for their own transportation projects

- 7 percent to senior and disabled transit.

- 1 percent to administration.

The tax would raise an estimated $1.5 billion over 30 years.

Suisun Lighthouse Still on Schedule

Suisun Lighthouse Still on Schedule
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The 45-foot-long pilings are in and the rest of the foundation is expected to be put down in the near future as Suisun City's Old Town lighthouse moves closer to reality.

"We are still on schedule to have it completed by the Fourth of July," said Dan Kasperson, the city's chief building inspector and the lighthouse project's manager.

Workers from Blackshear Construction were on the lighthouse site near Mike Day Park earlier this month, pounding the pilings into the ground.

Suisun City leaders have lauded the 52-foot-tall lighthouse as a distinctive symbol of the downtown area's continuing transformation into a destination spot for shoppers.

The idea for the lighthouse came out of a series of community forums held in late 2004 as a landmark that could be easily visible from Highway 12.

The council awarded Blackshear a $623,000 contract in early December to put up the structure, which was designed by ROMA Design Group.

The lighthouse's steel structure is now being fabricated by Delta Steel in its Benicia facility and will be transported to Suisun City on a large truck and put into place by cranes some time in March, according to Kasperson.

"The lighthouse's dedication ceremony will be coordinated with the Fourth of July celebration," Kasperson said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Travis Personnel Training, Preparing for Arrival of C-17s

Travis Personnel Training, Preparing for Arrival of C-17s
By Ian Thompson

TRAVIS AFB - The pending arrival of the new C-17 Globemaster jet transport at Travis Air Force Base is already having a deep effect on the Air Force Reserve squadron that will fly them.

Members of the 301st Airlift Squadron are training to start flying missions as soon as the C-17 arrives, squadron commander Col. Dave Pavey said.

By the time Travis' C-17s start arriving, "we will have a pretty good stable of horses to run," Pavey said.

Travis is preparing to receive a squadron of 13 C-17 Globemaster III jet transports, which should start arriving later this year. The work on the buildings and services needed to support the aircraft is already under way.

Like the C-5s and the KC-10s already stationed at Travis, the C-17s will be shared between the active-duty 60th Air Mobility Wing and the Air Force Reserve 349th Air Mobility Wing.

The C-17s will replace the C-5s in two Travis squadrons, one active-duty and one Reserve, in the case of the 349th AMW, the 301st Airlift Wing.

Unlike the active-duty side of the base, the Reservists of the 349th can't send its C-5s aircrew to other C-5 squadrons elsewhere and ship in new airlifters to take on flying the C-17. Instead, because the 349th is so closely connected to the surrounding communities that supply its members, it is sending members of the 301st Airlift Squadron to retrain to fly the C-17.

The 301st, which has roots that extend back to carrying 101st Airborne paratroopers to launch the Normandy Invasion in 1944, will become the 349th's C-17 squadron.

Training for the new task

The members of the squadron, who now fly the venerable C-5 Galaxy jet transport, started retraining a cadre of members to fly the C-17 early last year.

"We sent 17 people to Altus Air Force Base (in Oklahoma) to train last January, 10 pilots and seven loadmasters," Pavey said.

With this group wrapping up most of its C-17 training and flying missions with C-17s from other bases, the majority of the squadron is now also starting to train.

Tech. Sgt. John Willoughby, a loadmaster with the 301st, signed on for C-17 training because he wanted to stay with the squadron and was impressed with the C-17's capabilities.

With a smaller crew, the C-17s loadmasters will become more involved with the flying aspect of the mission as well as overseeing the cargo.

"It has been a challenging experience learning the airplane," Willoughby said, noting he'd spent 13 weeks at Altus and has 200 hours already logged on the C-17 "and that doesn't count personal time studying the books."

"I was intrigued by the airplane for some time," Maj. Dennis Wolf said. "It has more of a tactical capability than the C-5."

Wolf has already gone through the C-17's co-pilot schooling and flown some missions on the aircraft.

Both he and Pavey consider getting the C-17s an opportunity to look back on the squadron's history, because the C-17 could be considered a return to the 301st's tactical roots. Pavey has worked to strengthen this by collecting photos of the 301st's duty in World War II and has contacted those fliers from then who are still alive.

In need of fewer personnel

Because the C-17 requires a smaller aircrew than the C-5, the 301st will downsize as well with some of its airlifters, particularly engineers, going to the wings other squadrons.

Wolf is melancholy about seeing some of the 301st members move to other units or retire but is also excited at being a part of bringing this new mission to Travis.

"It is an opportunity to take part in the missions that have helped shape our world," Wolf said.

Much of the training is done in Altus' C-17 simulators, which feel just like a real C-17, followed by joining up with C-17 squadrons at bases such as McChord Air Force Base, Wash., to fly missions with those aircrews.

The 301st fliers are impressed with the aircraft they are learning to fly.

Senior Master Sgt. Charles Speir had been anticipating the C-17's arrival for some time, describing the C-17 as an aircraft that requires a much different mindset from its crew.

"The crew is smaller and has to be a much better team," Speir said, adding the C-17's capabilities require a sea change "in the way you think, the way you do business."

It is packed with technology that includes a heads-up display for the pilot to replace much of the instrumentation he had to look down for in a C-5. The C-17 requires the reservists to shed routines they learned while flying the C-5s.

"It is so much more friendly to those computer-oriented younger people," Pavey said. "It is just amazing how that plane works."

Pavey called the change to the C-17 "the high point of my time in the Air Force" and a return to missions the more tactically oriented C-17 will allow them to carry out.

Not only can the aircraft fly the long-range missions the C-5 is capable of, but it can land in more austere environments on runways too small for the larger C-5.

Overall, the C-17's coming arrival is making for a better squadron that is looking forward to being on the cutting edge of air mobility.

"It is gratifying to see the squadron working together," Pavey said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.


What they are: The C-17 is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft that can move troops and cargo to major bases or to forward bases. It is also capable of performing tactical airlift missions and airdrop missions.

Who will fly them: The 60th Air Mobility Wing's 21st Airlift Squadron and the 349th AMW's 301st Airlift Squadron

What training have they had: While active-duty C-17 aircrews and maintainers will be transferred to Travis Air Force Base from other bases, the Air Force Reservists of the 301st are going to Altus Air Force Base, Okla., to train to fly and care for the C-17.

How the C-17 differs from the C-5 Galaxy: While the larger C-5 Galaxy can carry twice as much cargo farther than a C-17, the Globemaster is a much more flexible aircraft capable of more diversified missions that will carry it closer to the fighting.

Source: U.S. Air Force

Monday, January 30, 2006

Community Spawns First Wave of Growth in Rio Vista

Community Spawns First Wave of Growth in Rio Vista
By Brad Stanhope

RIO VISTA - The Trilogy housing development changed everything in Rio Vista, longtime resident Eddie Woodruff said.

"Anytime you take a town with 3,000 population for most of its history and double it in 10 years, it's going to have an impact," said Woodruff, Rio Vista's mayor. "Some is good, some is not all good."

But most of the change, at least from Woodruff's perspective, is positive. He said Trilogy - a planned community for people 55 and older - "renewed the vitality" of Rio Vista, spurring growth and new development.

Along with that, the community brought a huge influx of new residents to town. It was the first wave of a growth tsunami that is expected to drive the population to about 24,000 residents by 2020 - an eightfold increase in 25 years.

Trilogy changed Rio Vista.

"It is of incredible significance," Rio Vista City Manager Brad Baxter said. "It's the wave of the future as the baby boomers retire. You're going to see more and more active-adult communities."

The impact of such development is widespread, he added.

"Not only do we get the tax base from the houses, but there's an increased demand for services," Baxter said. "It spurred 27 community projects that are on the drawing board. There's a big need for medical and other services."

First wave of growth

Leaders in Rio Vista - the Sacramento River town that was home to a few thousand people for most of its history - made the decision to embrace growth in the early 1990s and the first major development was what became Trilogy.

Blackhawk Corp. built the first 350 homes, then sold the 1,100-acre development to Shea Homes in 1999. Since then, Trilogy grew to 1,500 homes, with another 1,500 planned over the next five years.

Construction continues year-round - with about one home a day being finished and new residents moving in as homes are completed. And most residents at the gated community - which features two large clubhouses, an 18-hole golf course and plenty of other amenities - love the combination of retirement living and the small-town feel.

"Somebody said that if you like it quiet and rural, go to Rio Vista," said Donna Chambers, who moved to Trilogy seven years ago after she and her husband, Jim Chambers, finished their careers as investment bankers in New York. "A friend told us about (Rio Vista) and the next thing, we were here and bought the house."

Jim Chambers was born and raised in the Bay Area and wanted to return to his roots - particularly because his family owns a historic cabin near Pinecrest. Donna Chambers just liked the area of living in Rio Vista.

"I was born in a small town," she said. "Coming here and meeting people, they were friendly. There's just a nice feeling about Rio Vista."

Delia Phillips, 55, moved from Danville with her husband, Bob Phillips, eight years ago. She wanted to come to Trilogy because of the huge clubhouse - which was still five years from completion when they moved - and because the proximity of cities and relatives made Rio Vista a logical place to live.

Phillips works in the homeowners association office and said she gets a lot of feedback from people who like the feel of the community.

"They love the privacy of the gated community, they love the limited number of people," she said. "And there aren't too many kids wandering the streets. We love them dearly, but this is for us."

Who the residents are

Trilogy calls itself an "active adult community," but don't make the mistake of calling it a retirement resort - nearly half the residents still work.

"People who retire often think of coming to Trilogy for the lifestyle and amenities," said Gary Spear, Shea's marketing director. "All the things it has appeals to people who are going to retire or who are retired. We also find that people who reach 55 and are still busy and well tend to focus on how they want to spend their time."

The people who move to Trilogy fit a profile, said Steve Hextell, an area vice president for Shea.

"They're about age 60 and lived in their previous home 15 to 20 years," he said. "They're from the outer Bay Area and their family is still close. They're ready to move on, their kids are raised, but they want to stay close and active."

Because of the booming California housing market in the past 10 years, many Trilogy residents were able to turn equity in their homes into a residence for their retirement. Prices range from about $348,000 to $528,000 for the 11 different models, which range from 1,100 to 2,500 square feet.

Homeowners are part of an association and must abide by covenant, conditions and restrictions - the same type of CC&Rs that are usually enforced at other housing groups. The small plots - averaging about 5,500 square feet, according to Spear - sometimes include small gardens or lawns, but they must be maintained by the homeowners.

Although the golf course is the most obvious attraction, fewer than half of the residents are regular golfers. Two large clubhouses - the Vista Club and the Delta Club - are more likely gathering places for residents.

The Vista Club, particularly, is a popular attraction - a 27,000-square-foot building that operates as the community center for the estimated 3,000 residents. It features a fitness center, swimming pool, indoor track, ballroom, billiard room, cybercafe and numerous meeting rooms for the 60-plus clubs that serve the residents as well as ongoing education.

The Delta club features a library, offices, meeting rooms and other opportunities. Outside, there is a croquet course, golf driving range and tennis and bocce courts.

'They're fabulous residents'

While Trilogy is physically removed from downtown Rio Vista by a few miles - the city has approved other developments that will fill in the gap during the next few decades - the residents consider themselves a part of the little river town.

"They have a market in town. It's not Super Safeway, it's not open 24 hours a day, but it's a nice market," Spear said. "There's a great pharmacy and a couple of great places to eat. And if I want to go to Target, Nordstrom's or the mall, I go to Lodi, Fairfield or Antioch."

The Chambers - who lived in Middletown, N.J., before moving to Rio Vista - regularly visit downtown Rio Vista and participate in events.

"We're active downtown," Jim Chambers said. "We support the schools, police department, charitable organizations."

That's the biggest impact of Trilogy, according to city manager Baxter.

"They're fabulous residents - educated, very involved, active," he said. "There's a real spirit of volunteerism. They love to recreate and be involved in the community. What they've brought is volunteerism, participation. What they bring to the table is a working group of professionals."

Donna Chambers agreed, saying she and her husband changed their involvement when they retired.

"When we first came here from the East Coast, we came to somebody's town," she said. "We wondered how do you get involved. People volunteer at the library, schools, helping needy people."

A recent example is a group of Trilogy residents who raised money to buy instruments and uniforms for the Rio Vista High School band.

But a big concern - that the arrival of thousands of 55-and-older residents to the community would totally change the social fabric of Rio Vista - doesn't worry Woodruff.

"If it was the only development to happen here, it would be a big concern," he said. "But there are four other developments - two already with agreements, two that are near - so there will be another 6,000 homes to be built. That's 6,000 general, family homes."

And it will bring an additional 10,000 to 17,000 people, completing the surge of growth that started with the wave of Trilogy.

Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6925 or bstanhope@dailyrepublic.net.


Location: A 1,100-acre development on the west side of Rio Vista

Homes: 1,500 built, another 1,500 planned in next five years

Residents: Must be 55 or older, or one person in a marriage must be at least 55

Cost of homes: $348,000 to $528,000

Monthly homeowner fee: About $100

Amenities: 18-hole golf course, two large clubhouses, tennis courts, walking and bike paths, fitness center, bocce courts

Info: www.trilogylife.com/riovista or call (800) 685-6494

(Source: Shea Homes)

Suisun Looks to Speed Up Commercial Development

Suisun Looks to Speed Up Commercial Development
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The City Council is taking a hard look at the city's undeveloped commercial lands to see if the city can speed up development and get as much money as possible out of the property.

Councilmembers are expected to approve a study Tuesday that will give the city the baseline information it needs, especially if the developers want to put any of the commercial land to other uses.

The idea was born in October 2005 when the council told City Manager Suzanne Bragdon to examine the city's commercial lands and what the city should require from developers who may want to use the land for something else.

Bragdon now wants the council to hire Applied Development Economics of Sacramento to spend the next three months putting together the study.

"They will identify the revenue-generating potential of our land," Bragdon said.

The city can't afford to have commercial land lie idle, councilmembers said. Laying out clearly what they expect from property owners and developers will help promote development.

Suisun City's budget has suffered from lackluster sales tax revenue, which the council has vowed to raise to bring in more money for city services.

This information will help the city get as much revenue from other uses as it would if the land were developed as a commercial business.

A lot of developers want to create residential developments, Bragdon said. While houses do give the city a lot in developers fees up front, they don't generate a continuing stream of sales or transient occupancy taxes.

But if these developers can show their homes or mixed use projects can bring in as much tax revenue as a commercial business, so be it, Bragdon said.

"This is to clarify where the council is coming from," Bragdon said of the study. "We are interested in revenue generation."

The Suisun City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Who: Suisun City Council

What: Approving a study of Suisun City's undeveloped commercial land

Where: Suisun City Council chamber, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Info: 421-7300
Cherishing Its Roots
Nut Tree Embraces Past, Moves Forward
By Tom Hall/Staff Writer

Work continues on the retail center for the Nut Tree Family Park which will feature a restored Harbison House as its centerpiece. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

The foundation is in place. The landscape is changing. Electric power is almost there. Money, hopefully, won't be long in coming.

Its been a long time since the Harbison House has been at the center of this much action.

As the walls of the new Nut Tree

Village project continue to go up around the near century-old colonial revival home, work to transform the historic landmark into a living museum is getting closer.

Shawn Lum, the director of the Vacaville Museum, said a preservation architect to lead the project will be hired

Monday. Lum interviewed candidates Friday, and said getting an architect in place has been a priority.

"We're putting one foot in front of the other, and we're finally stepping out," Lum said.

The Harbison House, built in 1907 by renowned homebuilder George Sharpe for Luther and Hester Harbison, is owned by the Vacaville Museum. It was donated by members of the Power family, the clan who ran the Nut Tree for 80 years.

The house will be restored to its original grandeur and converted into a museum, showcasing the history of the Nut Tree and Vacaville.

The original Nut Tree closed in 1996. Work on the new Nut Tree project, which will include some 300,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space along with a 3.7-acre family park, began late last summer.

The park is expected to open in July, with Harbison House as its focal point.

"I'm really happy that the house is the centerpiece now," Lum said. "I think there's some dignity around it."

The white-painted home originally sat just north of where Interstate 80 runs now. It was there, in front of the house and under a massive oak tree, that Helen Power first set up a fruit stand in 1921 for travellers on the old Lincoln Highway.

The fruit stand eventually grew into the world-famous Nut Tree, with its restaurant, miniature railroad, hobby horses and, eventually, airport and post office.

The restaurant closed in 1996 amid financial troubles. The post office was moved to a storefront in an Orange Drive shopping center, and all the familiar buildings were torn down ...

Except the Harbison House.

Last October, movers jacked up the 99-year-old house, put wheels under-neath, and hauled it to a location several hundred feet north of the freeway.

Lum said it was set into its new foundation two weeks ago, and temporary power will be patched to the house sometime this week.

With electricity, and an architect nearly in place, financing for the massive renovation project ahead is next on the list.

Lum said she's in the process of completing a state grant application, which she said is the project's best funding opportunity.

"It's really a big opportunity for some matching funds from the state," Lum said of the 80-page California Cultural and Historical Endowment application. "But right now, I look like I'm writing a thesis."

The museum applied for the grant last year, as well. The Western Railway Museum east of Suisun City was the only group in Solano County awarded money a year ago through the grant program, which is funded through Proposition 40 park bonds.

Lum said she thinks Harbison House has a better chance this time around, thanks to a full business plan and cooperation from Snell & Co., the family park developer, and the city

"We're much more prepared this year," she said.

Meanwhile, permit applications for the Nut Tree Family Park are in the city's hands. Matt Sharkey, Nut Tree's director of marketing, said the design of the park will lean heavily on the site's past.

"We're definitely not abandoning what it was," he said. "We're moving forward with something new while embracing the Nut Tree's place in history."

Sharkey said the park plans to use images of the old Nut Tree and the old Vacaville in all its marketing efforts and within the design of the park itself.

He added that the presence of the Harbison House will be a great tool in working with schools to provide a fun educational experience for students around the region.

Lum said everything she's seen about the park shows it and Harbison House will complement each other well.

"I think the history will be well-represented in the family," she said. "The house will always be there, as a reminder."

Tom Hall can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

Aiming for Improvement

Aiming for Improvement
New Board Shares Ideas for Revamped Downtown Area
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Making downtown Vacaville the heart of the community is the mission of the Downtown Vacaville Improvement District, or DVBID, according to the group's executive director, Bob Vollmer.

The DVBID is comprised of more than 450 members, and works to enhance, promote and preserve the downtown.

The Reporter spoke with Vollmer, along with six newly elected members to the DVBID's board of directors, about what issues are priorities for the group, and what they hope to accomplish in the coming year.

Betty Lucke, of The Otter Nature Store, characterized downtown as an ideal environment for small business owners, because people know one another and work together.

Lucke explained that her primary concern with DVBID relates to her role as chairwoman of the Middle Earth Festival.

"But," she said, "I'm also hoping that this year we get more of our committees functional - some have been already, but that's not across the board."

One committee Lucke hopes will increase its efforts is marketing.

"I would like to see the retailers cooperate more, too. Not that they haven't been cooperating, but continue to work together to bring people downtown," she explained. " A lot of people don't know there is a downtown."

The DVBID intends to change that, Vollmer said.

"One of the big things we're looking to do is to market downtown," he explained. "We're re-dedicating our committees to focus more on marketing and economic restructuring, getting more businesses involved, and design."

Those are also the committees that Lynda Hinds, of the Attic Gallery, particularly hopes will become more effective.

Hinds, who opened her eclectic furniture shop downtown last May, said, "I love being a part of downtown." Though she would like what she characterized as "prime real estate" to have a greater density of retail stores.

"Personally, I would like to see more shops and boutiques, and things that bring people down here, walking," she remarked, and referenced events including concerts, farmers markets and festivals.

"DVBID is working toward sponsoring more events," Hinds noted.

Vollmer confirmed that the group will organize 60-plus Town Square performances and events in the coming year, ranging from Shakespeare to music and art.

"I'm for anything that makes downtown a more desirable place to come," said Wendy Jackson, of Jackson Medical Supply.

Jackson explained that she feels it's important for business owners to be involved with the DVBID.

"We're trying to get more business owners involved, even the ones on the outskirts of downtown - their voices need to be heard," she said.

For example, Jackson noted, "One of the issues I have is parking - in my case for customers who tend to have mobility problems."

Parking is also the primary issue that concerns Joe Lopez Jr., the third-generation owner of Barber Joe's.

"Our parking is a problem and the DVBID is the only voice we have with the city to alleviate the problem," he said.

Lopez also admitted he'd like to see "the marketing of the downtown as a destination place in itself, rather than each individual business as the destination."

He believes that's best accomplished by procuring a balanced mix of uses and businesses downtown.

As does Bonnie Rodda, board president of the non-profit organization that runs Yellow Brick Road.

"I'd really like to see all businesses marketed," she said, which is one of the main reasons she decided to get involved with the board.

Rodda added, "We'd like to see other things coming into downtown - more retail, gift stores."

Cindy Anderson, of United Glass, concurs.

"I'd like to see more retail shops downtown - a lot more," she said, and noted that the area has improved in recent years, in part due to improvements the city's made, such as the creation of the Town Square and the new library.

"It's nice to see it come back, with all the revamping," she said. "I remember when I was a kid, you'd get your allowance and go spend it downtown. It was fun - you'd spend all day downtown."

Amanda Janis can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

Affordable Housing Plans Go Before Commission

Affordable Housing Plans Go Before Commission
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Plans for two housing developments along Railroad Avenue, one of which will give Suisun City more affordable housing, are going before a combined meeting of the Suisun City Council and Planning Commission.

One of the projects proposes building 69 single-family homes on a triangular piece of property between Railroad Avenue and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

This project, called The Courtyards at Sunset, is being put up by Bancor Properties of Livermore.

The other is an affordable housing development that proposes building 94 apartments on land sandwiched between the Bancor development to the west and Sunset Avenue to the east.

Suisun City planners have been talking with Bridge Property Management of San Francisco for about a year about putting up an affordable housing project to help the city meets its state affordable housing requirements.

The city is pushing both proposals through the concurrent special meeting of the two groups because the affordable housing project has to apply for state funding by a March 10 deadline. The Bancor project has no such deadline worries.

The Suisun City Council and the Suisun Planning Commission meet jointly at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Who: Suisun City Council and Suisun City Planning Commission joint meeting

What: Approving two residential developments proposed for Railroad Avenue

Where: Suisun City Council chambers, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Info: 421-7300

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Public Safety and Money Spending City's Top Priorities

Public Safety and Money Spending City's Top Priorities
By Stephanie Jucar

FAIRFIELD - Reducing crime and making long-term decisions on budget and economic growth were the top three of eight priorities Fairfield city officials agreed to focus on this year.

The City Council and city administrators met Saturday in the Fairfield Transportation Center to set goals and priorities for 2006.

Public safety, or what the City Council called "street safe/safe community," is the main concern for all city administrators.

Though Fairfield's crime rate dropped by 6 percent, according to recent statistics released by the Fairfield Police Department, the city will continue to work on dealing with crime rates by adding more resources to its police and fire departments.

City officials plan to create stronger community development in the city's high risk and high crime areas. Building teen centers, such as a Boys and Girls Club, and other after-school programs is under the planning process.

Having better communication and relations with nonprofit organizations, the police athletic league, domestic violence organizations and other violence or crime education programs will also be considered.

The city will conduct a crime survey in two years to monitor its progress.

City spending and economic development will also be closely examined. To expand economic growth and employment, the city will explore a workforce initiative with regional schools, such as University of California, Davis, Solano Community College and local K-12 public schools.

Further comments on the city's priorities will be finalized and put up for final vote today between noon and 5 p.m. at the Fairfield Transportation Center, 2000 Cadenasso Dr., Fairfield.

Reach Stephanie Jucar at 427-6955 or sjucar@dailyrepublic.net.

The top 8 Fairfield priorities:

1. Public safety

2. Budget

3. Business and economic development

4. Infill strategies

5. Travis Community Consortium

6. Transportation and transit issues

7. Affordable housing

8. Funding infrastructure

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Amberwood, a new 28 home Suisun City development by Edenbridge Homes

Real Estate Row - Week of January 28

Development debuts models

Amberwood, a new Suisun City development by Edenbridge Homes, will preview two of its models this weekend: Residence Two and Residence Three.

The models are 2,240 square feet, and 2,381 square feet, respectively, and feature flex space options for additional bedrooms and square footage.

Amberwood is a limited collection of 28 homes, with prices starting at $557,950. To reach the sales center from Highway 12, exit on Sunset Drive, turn right on Railroad, and right again on Blossom.

For more information, call 425-5065.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Solano's Solutions?

Solano's Solutions?
Speaker Gives State of County
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Ian Stuart, of Colliers International, delivers the keynote address Thursday on the future of Solano County during the 23rd annual luncheon meeting of the Solano EDC. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

Eyebrow-raising statistics concerning Solano County were presented by guest speaker Ian Stuart at the 23rd annual meeting Thursday of the Solano Economic Development Corp.

Stuart, a partner in the Advisory Group of Colliers International, gleaned data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, finding that 27 percent of households in Solano speak a foreign language compared to a national average of 19 percent.

He told more than 300 at the meeting in Fairfield that in terms of percentage of household income spent on housing, Solano ranks 14th among 236 counties in the survey, and that Solano ranks 18th among the worst commutes in the nation.

"These are just the facts," Stuart said. "What really matters is what you do from here on out."

Stuart explained, "If Solano County remains a suburban dormitory, then I predict in two decades you will have gridlock." He next offered a three-point remedy:

• He encouraged support for Solano Community College. "It's the best, most cost-effective way to give the majority of your population the language skills and the life skills to succeed."

• He discussed merits of multi-use, multi-story, high-density development schemes.

"Land here is too valuable and too costly for single-use zoning. If you want to bring down housing costs, and have the added benefit of reducing traffic, then mixed-use is the solution."

• He touted rail use to assuage traffic issues.

Reaction among those present was mixed.

Kay Draisin, of NorthBay Health Advantage and EDC board secretary, said, "I don't think there was anything new. It seemed to me to be sort of a reinforcement of what's being discussed in the county now."

County Supervisor Mike Reagan, however, remarked, "All these principles of European-style development don't really work," in ameliorating the commute for many residents, "because they still have to get in their cars and drive out of the county to go to work."

Reagan felt that the EDC's attraction and retention of employers will be the largest commute-altering factor.

Daryl Halls, executive director of the Solano County Transportation Authority, agreed with Stuart about the local college, but felt "his commute solution is pretty simple; trains by themselves are not going to solve the problems."

Halls advocated a multi-mode approach, explaining the STA's priorities are to fix the highways in terms of safety and capacity, expand transit alternatives and address local concerns.

Sean Quinn, director of Fairfield's planning and development department, agreed with Stuart on education, but faulted his rail-based transport solution.

"I think that long-term that's probably a good idea," Quinn said, but emphasized a need to improve infrastructure.

As for Stuart's call for increased mixed land use, Quinn pointed out that "mixed-use developments and livable communities are definitely being embraced in this county."

Overall, Quinn said of Stuart, "I think he offered an alternative and I think it's always interesting to get people from the outside to offer perspective."

Also at the meeting, Steve Huddleston, publisher of The Reporter, passed the torch as chairman to Collier's International's managing partner in Fairfield, Brooks Pedder. The 2006 board of directors also was installed.

Amanda Janis can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

Solano EDC Speaker Stresses Progressive Thinking

Solano EDC Speaker Stresses Progressive Thinking
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - As the keynote speaker at Solano Economic Development Corp.'s annual meeting, Ian Stuart didn't pull any punches when summing up Solano County: The average daily commute here is worse than in San Francisco and housing is the 14th most expensive in the country.

Speaking to a banquet hall of about 275 business leaders, politicians and regional planners, Stuart with Colliers International addressed the pitfalls of what he called "sub urban" development.

He urged attendees Thursday to think outside the box.

Stuart said if the county didn't find a solution to its commuting problem, the area would experience the dreaded gridlock of Orange County within two decades.

Part of the problem is Solano County's high percentage of so-called bay divers - who commute west for higher paying jobs in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

More high-paying jobs need to be created in Solano County to reduce the number of commuters. And improvements to transportation such as a commuter rail are needed to relieve those who continue to commute, Stuart said.

Stuart outlined his solutions: Education, development and commute.

A strong education system is needed to attract businesses to the county, he said.

"Employers are aware of the importance of community college," Stuart said, adding Solano Community College needs to be one of the best in the country because it will provide the labor force that will do the leg work for large corporations such as Genentech. The biotech company, which recently was named as Fortune magazine's top company to work for, has a major manufacturing facility in Vacaville.

Under development, Stuart proposed Solano County think progressively.

Traditional suburban growth gobbles up land and leads to more traffic congestion and longer commutes.

Mixed-use projects, which provide retail, office and residential space in one development, offer the advantage that people can walk to work and the grocery store from home.

"Mixed-use is the solution," Stuart said.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price adamantly agreed.

"Mixed-use is a concept Fairfield has been following," said Price, who recently attended a public policy forum at Harvard. "Everything he told us today were things we discussed at Harvard."

Stuart also championed improving rail lines through Solano County, not just for commuters but as an alternative to semi trucks.

"If you build a bigger road you just put more traffic on it," Stuart said.

Stuart, who is English, noted that if France and England could agree to build a very expensive train line connecting the two countries, Solano County could manage to help push through a politically challenging commuter rail project.

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or nhalverson@dailyrepublic.net.

Forecast: Vallejo Income, Employment Tops

Forecast: Vallejo Income, Employment Tops
Expert sees red-hot housing market cooling a bit but prices will rise locally
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

Personal income and employment will continue growing in the Vallejo area in the next couple of years, out-pacing much of the rest of the region, while available housing continues to decrease, according to several agencies' latest economic forecasts.

Sean Snaith, director of the University of the Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business Business Forecasting Center, said his group's most recent study shows the Vallejo/Fairfield region surpassing the rest of the state in employment growth through 2008.

"I think the recent numbers show continued growth in the region, with construction still leading the charge, even as we start to see a transition from a red-hot housing market to something more sustainable," Snaith said.

Snaith predicts a slowing of home price appreciation for lower- and medium-priced homes, while higher-end units are expected to actually decrease slightly in value, he said.

"The $700,00 to $1 million McMansions may see price declines. Nothing major. Not an unraveling," Snaith said.

Deana Vladic of the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), said that organization's latest figures show Solano County's 2005 total housing starts dropped 16 percent over 2004.

The CBIA data shows Marin County with the sharpest drop in housing starts, at more than 53 percent. The average drop statewide and regionally was just under 3 percent, Vladic said. Snaith said severe weather and hurricane-fueled spending fears at year's end may have contributed to the drop in housing starts.

Snaith said that at an average of 6.63 percent per year for the next two years, personal income in the Vallejo region will grow at the third fastest pace of the 11 metro area his group studies.

In its latest forecast, released Thursday, the Association of Bay Area Government's (ABAG) latest study also shows housing affordability and availability decreasing locally. The ABAG study shows that to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Solano County a minimum wage earner must work 112 hours - the fewest in the nine county Bay Area. The agency reports the state has lost more than 29,000 affordable housing units since 1996 as property owners opt-out of federally assisted housing programs.

Land prices, competition for scarce building sites, zoning and regulatory red tape and ever-increasing construction costs also are contributing to higher rents and fewer residential building starts, the agencies agree.

At 21.2 percent, Solano County's taxable sales growth far outpaced the rest of the Bay Area's from 2001 to 2004, according to ABAG's report. Napa's was a distant second, at just over 9 percent.

Solano County homes sales dropped by nearly 16 percent between November 2004 and November 2005, which is among the sharpest drops in the Bay Area, after Napa and San Mateo. However, the county's median home price, still the Bay Area's lowest, rose from $400,000 to $490,000 - a 22.5 percent gain - in the same period. It's the second highest increase after Contra Costa's 24.3 percent rise, ABAG reports. The statewide average increase was just over 15 percent.

ABAG predicts job growth in the Bay Area will be higher than the national average over the next two years.

Paul Fassinger, ABAG's economist and research director, said he expects the region's wage and salary jobs will increase in the next two years and that the relatively higher job growth in the Bay Area would reverse a recent trend in which jobs have grown at a slower pace regionally than nationally.

"We came late to the party," he said.

Fassinger said, "2005 was the year that the economy finally returned to normal" in the Bay Area.

- E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

Significant Solano County economic events, 2005:

- The Vallejo City Council approved plans by Triad Communities to revamp the aging downtown district, building high-rise housing atop stores and offices.

- Rents stay down in Fairfield and Vacaville, according to a survey by Fairfield's Planning and Development Department.

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

- Solano transportation leaders want Interstate 80 carpool lanes and a north connector road in Fairfield within five years. A New Benicia Bridge span with 17 toll booths could open in 2007.

- A proposed "smart growth" project along Interstate 80 in Fairfield was endorsed by Fairfield's City Council. When finished, the complex of offices, apartments and townhouses would have 1,200 residents an provide 3,000 jobs.

- Benicia Business Park expansion is progressing. It's the largest port-oriented industrial park in Northern California, housing 600 businesses with more than 7,000 employees. The proposed added space involves about 40 acres bordering Interstate 680 for commercial use.

- The House of Representatives passed transportation funding for Solano County, including $850,000 for the Vallejo Baylink Ferry for parking, an improved bus transfer facility and bicycle and pedestrian connections between downtown and the waterfront. Funds were also approved for Vacaville's Nut Tree Airport improvements and a Fairfield-Vacaville Intermodal Station.

Source: University of the Pacific's Eberhardt School of Business Business Forecasting Center's California & Metro Forecast 2005-2008

West-Com Nurse Call System Relocates to Fairfield

West-Com Nurse Call System Relocates to Fairfield

FAIRFIELD - West-Com Nurse Call System purchased a 13,594-square-foot building in the Solano Commerce Center located at 2200 Cordelia Road.

West-Com, which currently operates out of Danville in a 6,000-square-foot facility, manufactures nurse-calling systems for hospitals.

The building includes 8,390 square feet that will be used for office space. West-Com currently employs 28 people, but the new site will allow for expansion.

The Solano Commerce Center features more than 365,000 square feet of industrial, distribution and research and development space.

Panattoni Development Co. sold the building to West-Com. It was the developer's third sale within the business park.

Fairfield New Allan Witt plan retains more park land

Printed on: Fri, Jan 27, 2006

New Allan Witt plan retains more park land
By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - Fewer houses and more park land are the cornerstones of the latest version of Fairfield's proposal to redevelop land in and around Allan Witt Park.

Fairfield officials contend the new plan addresses public concerns about seeing large portions of the park plowed under to make way for homes and still meets the city's goals to redevelop the site as part of its campaign to improve the West Texas Street area.

Fairfield planners and Seattle-based developer Triad cut the number of proposed homes from 434 to 398, according to Fairfield Planning and Development Director Sean Quinn.

More of the development is centered on land that is now the Caltrans maintenance yard, the abandoned Ray Venning Water Treatment Plant and where the park's baseball fields are.

"It has been opened up a bit more," said Quinn of the new plan's expanded amount of green space.

This is a considerable drop from the 562 houses, cluster homes and townhouses initially planned to be built on 32 acres. The new plan has the homes being built on 25 acres.

Housing previously proposed for the park's northeast corner near West Texas Street was removed and housing is planned where the skatepark is located.

Under the new plan, the skatepark will be moved to a site east of the Allan Witt Sports Center gymnasium. The new site will be just as big and will have better lighting.

Instead of being moved to the park's southwest corner, the proposed revamped aquatics center will be built on top of the present one near the entrance from West Texas Street. The park will also retain two outdoor basketball courts and four tennis courts.

Brad Smith of Friends of Allan Witt Park had yet to see the new proposal himself, but called the changes in housing an encouraging move in the right direction.

Both Triad and Centex Homes, with whom the city is still in exclusive negotiations, have given their blessings to the new plan, according to City Manager Kevin O'Rourke.

Fairfield approached Triad almost two years ago about developing land in and around Allan Witt Park as part of the city's campaign to clean up the park and revitalize the West Texas Street area.

Both this plan and the previous one will be examined by an environmental impact report, which is expected to be released to the public in April.

Triad will be submitting its development proposal based on the new plan, O'Rourke said. A final version is expected to go to the planning commission and then the city council by early fall, according to O'Rourke.

The city backed off on one of its promises not to destroy any sports facilities at Allan Witt Park before their replacements are ready.

Fairfield Community Services is in talks with the Fairfield-Suisun school district about providing interim facilities with the city agreeing to upgrade the school fields in return for their use.

Fairfield has already approved spending up to $1.1 million for consultants for both the Allan Witt project and the proposed Field of Dreams sports complex on Cordelia Road.

Big League Dreams, which manages sports complexes in Redding, Chino Hills and Cathedral City, will run and maintain half of the Cordelia Road complex.

That half will be a multi-sports complex -Êfour softball fields designed to resemble historic ballparks such as Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, built around a restaurant/concession area.

The other half, which will have two Little League fields, a regulation baseball field and a football/soccer field, will be run and maintained by the city.

Staff say it's likely anyone will be able to use the Field of Dreams ballfields for free before 5 p.m. but will have to pay $2 admission per adult and $1 for youth after 5 p.m.

Community Services Director John DeLorenzo said the city will save money by having Big League Dreams maintain half the sports complex while the city gets a share of the revenue from the events played on Big Leagues' fields.

Smith preferred to see the city leave the baseball fields in the park intact and only build the Big League Dreams portion of the Cordelia Road sports complex.

"That will serve the softball community and we can do whatever improvements we can afford to do at the facilities at Allan Witt," Smith said. "Once the Big League Dreams starts generating revenues, then we can build facilities in addition to Allan Witt."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fairfield's Jelly Belly serves up international flavor with Thailand factory

January 26, 2006

Jelly Belly serves up international flavor with Thailand factory

By Christine Cube

FAIRFIELD - Jelly Belly Candy Co. is about to take on the world.

The sugar icon is expanding overseas, marking the first venture of the privately held company to manufacture its products on international soil.

In Rayong, Thailand, Jelly Belly will build a 50,000-square-foot facility with a capacity to expand to 175,000 square feet. The Fairfield plant is nearly 500,000 square feet.

Construction hasn't begun. The plan is to be on the ground in another quarter with actual candy production under way by early 2007, said Herman Rowland Sr., chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

This is big news for Fairfield's candy cluster, which was dealt a blow earlier this week with the announcement Thompson Brands is packing up its operation and consolidating everything at its headquarters in Meriden, Conn.

Jelly Belly's plant in Thailand won't have any effect on operations in Fairfield or at the company's facility in Illinois. Rowland remains committed to those operations, maintaining he "definitely will continue to grow operations in America."

The Thai plant strictly will serve the international market, specifically targeting Asia, Europe and Australia. So far Jelly Belly has had limited dealings worldwide - just 8 percent of its products are sold for export.

"For several years, we've been trying to improve our position internationally to sell more product throughout the world," Rowland said. "The cost of manufacturing it here in the United States - the sugar, labor, material, regulations - all of those things cost."

Take the price of sugar.

Sugar here costs 35 cents a pound, he said. Internationally, it could be as low as 12 cents.

As a result, many candy companies have left the United States, taking their business to Mexico, Canada and South America. Rowland mentioned Life Savers, which closed its plants across the country and is now doing business around the world.

The Hershey Co. (NYSE: HSY) is another candy icon that has taken its company global.

Hershey Chocolate North America is among the nation's domestic producers of chocolate and confectionery products with brands including Hershey's, Kit Kat, Twizzlers and Jolly Rancher. Hershey's international arm oversees global interests and exports to more than 90 countries.

Today, Hershey reports annual net sales of $4.4 billion and employs 13,000 people worldwide.

Jelly Belly started out as Goelitz Confectionery Co. in 1898.

Each year, the company produces 40 million pounds of candy, including its famous gourmet jelly beans, chocolates, gummies and sour candies. It reports roughly $130 million in sales every year.

Rowland said he likely will have 50 employees to start with in Thailand.

"It's a terrific project," he said. "I feel so relaxed about getting this built and running that I can't believe it. We have such a phenomenal crew."

Jelly Belly's strategy speaks volumes of the company's future, Fairfield officials said.

"It's a very positive sign," said Karl Dumas, economic development project manager for Fairfield. "It also puts our name out there overseas . . . (Herman) is really still committed to this marketplace. You don't find very many companies and very many people like that. He maintains and holds true to his commitments."

Reach Christine Cube at 427-6934 or ccube@dailyrepublic.net.

Solano's economic forecasts of years past, present and future

January 26, 2006

Economic forecasts of years past, present and future

By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - The economy of today looked a bit different 15 years ago.

An economic forecast by the Association of Bay Area Governments in December 1989 predicted manufacturing would be one of the fastest-growing industries in Solano County in 2005.

Instead it is the only employment sector that has shrunk since 2000.

Today, the association will release its two-year forecast at an economic summit in Oakland.

But who holds these forecasts accountable? Actually, the forecasters do.

"We don't have the luxury of the weather guy to correct our mistakes daily, but we try to do it often," said Sean Snaith, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, which just put out its own business forecast. "It's an old adage in forecasting, 'If you have to forecast, forecast often.' "

While the Association of Bay Area Governments forecast got the overall manufacturing sector wrong - outsourcing was far from a buzz word yet - it nailed what it called "high technology manufacturing."

The 1989 forecast estimated its high-tech manufacturing workforce of 690 people would blossom into a sector employing 5,690 workers by 2005. Today, companies such as Genentech, which has a major manufacturing facility in Vacaville, are making that forecast a reality.
The 15-year-old forecast also accurately predicted employment for the construction sector, especially when adjusting for the differences between the predicted population and the actual one.

The science of forecasting comes from the field of econometrics, which uses advanced mathematical equations to take a vast array of variables and forecasts them into the future.

Forecasts are an important tool in selling Solano County to companies looking to locate here, said Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp.

"We use forecasts to make future employers understand that Solano is the place to be," Ammann said. "We use them to show a company that moves here that Solano County can sustain them moving here."

Yet Ammann said forecasts need to be used in perspective. He said they should be used as one view into the future, but other scenarios should be considered. Ammann said he likes to look at what is most likely to happen, what would be the best thing to happen, and what would be the worst thing that could happen.

"It's not a 'I'm right and you're wrong.' It's a matter of how do we predict the future so we most effectively allocate our resources," he said. "That's why we do forecasting."

While forecasts aren't always perfect they give an idea of how to plan for the future, Snaith said.

"Trying to have some knowledge about the future is necessary to make labor or capital decisions," Snaith said.

Snaith's December 2005 forecast looks three years into the future.

"The further out you try to predict, the larger your forecast errors become," he said. "The nuances of the business cycle make it hard to predict a decade into the future."

Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or nhalverson@dailyrepublic.net.

Home values Soar in Solano

Home values Soar in Solano
By The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - One in every eight homes sold in the San Francisco Bay Area last year went for $1 million or more, according to data from a real estate tracking firm.
The rise in high-end home sales was most pronounced in Solano County, typically one of the least expensive locations in the Bay Area.

Million-dollar home sales in the county, which includes the cities of Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield, jumped 154 percent in 2005, compared to a 43.3 percent increase in San Francisco, according to researcher John Karevoll with DataQuick Information Systems.

Across-the-board appreciation in the nine-county area pushed the sale prices for 16,981 houses and condominiums, or 13.5 percent of total homes sold, into what was once considered a luxury price zone, Karevoll said Tuesday.

That's a nearly 50 percent increase from a year earlier, when 11,399 homes, or 8.5 percent of the total, sold for at least $1 million, according to the research firm.

Only a small fraction of the homes sold, 2.6 percent of the total, went for that in 1999, according to the firm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dixon sets a pace for track pact Magna accord off to running start

Article Launched: 01/25/2006 06:26:40 AM

Dixon sets a pace for track pact
Magna accord off to running start

By David Henson/Staff Writer

Lorne Kumer (from left) and Donald Cameron, both representing Dixon Downs, talk with Mayor Gil Vega during a break Tuesday. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)

The Dixon City Council got a running start Tuesday night - and plenty of public input - on a development agreement with a Canadian corporation that wants to build a 260-acre thoroughbred horse racing complex in the northeast part of the city.

Magna Entertainment's Dixon Downs project - a massive racing, entertainment and retail facility proposed for an undeveloped site just west of Pedrick Road near Interstate 80 - is on pace for a final vote sometime this year.

A development agreement, which likely will dovetail with a final vote on an environmental review later this year, would bind contractually the city and Magna to fulfill certain requirements relating to the project.

The agreement could also clear up contentious issues such as whether slot machines could ever be allowed at Dixon Downs and what portion of the needed public infrastructure should Magna be required to fund up front.

Tuesday night, the Dixon City Council and several local residents added to the 36-item list of potential sticking points regarding the track's approval, though city officials warned that the list is not definitive and is subject to future negotiations with Magna.

"This is not the first and probably not the last time you'll hear about this development agreement," Mayor Mary Ann Courville said.

Still, Courville seemed to respond to Magna's initial framing in May of the development agreement.

In two letters addressed to the city, Magna officials said very firmly that they would like the city to reinvest a portion of the revenue generated by the track back into the construction of roads and public utilities infrastructure at the undeveloped site.

Magna also floated the idea of a Mello Roos district to help fund the infrastructure. In addition, it asked the city to help pay the costs of a multi-million dollar upgrade of the Pedrick Road/Interstate 80 interchange.

"They can't tie our hands like that. We have to determine where those funds are going to be spent," Courville said.

The mayor also countered Magna's request that slot machine be allowable, should the state allow them and should the city grant the developer's subsequent request.

"The approval of slot machines should require a vote by the citizens of Dixon in a regularly scheduled election before any action by the city council," Courville said. "This would be a horse-racing facility, not a gaming, gambling facility."

Magna attorney J. Cleve Livingston clarified some of the seemingly firm positions outlined the May letters from Magna, indicating those issues aren't set in stone.

"When we submitted the letters in May, it was to share with you our perspective and provide you with a list of what we'd like to see addressed," Livingston said.

As they have in the past, opponents of the project - organized under the Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth banner - asked the city Tuesday night not to allow the racetrack, or at least to place stringent requirements on it.

Instead of asking the city to help front costs for infrastructure as suggested by Magna, Gail Preston said that only "the project should pay for what it needs."

Supporters of the project, such as Downtown Dixon Business Association President Rob Salaber, asked the council to be fair and reasonable during their negotiations.

"I don't believe a development agreement should be used as a tool to squeeze and extract every last drop of blood from a proponent,"

Salaber said, echoing comments from Magna's letters to the city in May.

For its part, Magna officials on hand said they were pleased to see the first steps toward development agreement negotiations - something the corporation requested around eight months ago.

"We really welcome this opportunity to engage with staff and the public. It's been a long time coming," Livingston said. "At this point, we're really ready to begin these discussions in earnest."

David Henson can be reached at dixon@thereporter.com.

Solano County "is the last affordable place to live

More pricey homes selling
1 in 8 transactions carries price of $1 million or more

Kelly Zito, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A whopping 1 in 8 homes sold in the Bay Area last year went for $1 million or more as robust appreciation helped push more properties into what was once considered a luxury price zone.

In some communities, including Los Altos, Menlo Park and Belvedere/Tiburon, more than three-quarters of all transactions were for seven figures or more in 2005, according to real estate information firm DataQuick.

"That part of the market is pretty stable, it's just that there's been across-the-board appreciation," said DataQuick researcher John Karevoll.

In the nine-county region, 16,981 houses and condos -- or 13.5 percent of total sales -- went for at least $1 million, up from 11,399, or 8.5 percent, in 2004. Only 2.6 percent of homes fetched as much in 1999.

The jump from 2004 to 2005 represented a 49 percent climb in million-dollar home sales, amid a housing boom fed by strong demand and low interest rates. Last year, home prices grew about 18 percent in the region.

As a result, an increasing number of unassuming bungalows and tidy townhomes worth a mere $500,000 six years ago have doubled in price, taking them past the $1 million threshold.

Nowhere was the rise in high-end homes more pronounced than in Solano County, typically one of the least-expensive sections of the Bay Area.

In that county, which includes Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield, million-dollar home sales soared 154 percent in 2005. By comparison, sales rose 43.3 percent in San Francisco.

Solano County "is the last affordable place to live," said Vallejo real estate agent David Thomas. "If you go to Marin, what are you going to buy for $1 million -- maybe an older home with three beds and two baths? Here, you get estate homes with 3,500 to 4,000 square feet. You actually get a million-dollar home."

DataQuick, which analyzes home sale data filed in county recorders' offices, included transactions where it could be determined there was a buyer and a seller, that money changed hands and that there was a legal transfer of ownership. The figure excludes sales involving multiple lots, property swaps, teardowns or large farms.

In the state, 48,666 homes sold for $1 million or more last year, up 47 percent from 33,107 in 2004.

The priciest confirmed sale was a $23.5 million home with six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms on six acres in La Jolla (San Diego County).

Ten percent of buyers statewide paid cash, down from 15 percent the previous year.

Although the Bay Area is home to a bevy of ritzy properties, Southern California dominated the list of cities with the most high-end sales. Of the top 10 priciest towns, only three -- Hillsborough (No. 3), Saratoga (No. 6) and Cupertino (No. 10) -- were in the Bay Area.

La Jolla was first, followed by Manhattan Beach (Los Angeles County).


CHART (1):

E-mail Kelly Zito at kzito@sfchronicle.com.

More Pricey Homes Selling

More Pricey Homes Selling
1 in 8 Transactions Carries Price of $1 Million or More
Kelly Zito, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A whopping 1 in 8 homes sold in the Bay Area last year went for $1 million or more as robust appreciation helped push more properties into what was once considered a luxury price zone.

In some communities, including Los Altos, Menlo Park and Belvedere/Tiburon, more than three-quarters of all transactions were for seven figures or more in 2005, according to real estate information firm DataQuick.

"That part of the market is pretty stable, it's just that there's been across-the-board appreciation," said DataQuick researcher John Karevoll.

In the nine-county region, 16,981 houses and condos -- or 13.5 percent of total sales -- went for at least $1 million, up from 11,399, or 8.5 percent, in 2004. Only 2.6 percent of homes fetched as much in 1999.

The jump from 2004 to 2005 represented a 49 percent climb in million-dollar home sales, amid a housing boom fed by strong demand and low interest rates. Last year, home prices grew about 18 percent in the region.

As a result, an increasing number of unassuming bungalows and tidy townhomes worth a mere $500,000 six years ago have doubled in price, taking them past the $1 million threshold.

Nowhere was the rise in high-end homes more pronounced than in Solano County, typically one of the least-expensive sections of the Bay Area.

In that county, which includes Vacaville, Vallejo and Fairfield, million-dollar home sales soared 154 percent in 2005. By comparison, sales rose 43.3 percent in San Francisco.

Solano County "is the last affordable place to live," said Vallejo real estate agent David Thomas. "If you go to Marin, what are you going to buy for $1 million -- maybe an older home with three beds and two baths? Here, you get estate homes with 3,500 to 4,000 square feet. You actually get a million-dollar home."

DataQuick, which analyzes home sale data filed in county recorders' offices, included transactions where it could be determined there was a buyer and a seller, that money changed hands and that there was a legal transfer of ownership. The figure excludes sales involving multiple lots, property swaps, teardowns or large farms.

In the state, 48,666 homes sold for $1 million or more last year, up 47 percent from 33,107 in 2004.

The priciest confirmed sale was a $23.5 million home with six bedrooms and 12 bathrooms on six acres in La Jolla (San Diego County).

Ten percent of buyers statewide paid cash, down from 15 percent the previous year.

Although the Bay Area is home to a bevy of ritzy properties, Southern California dominated the list of cities with the most high-end sales. Of the top 10 priciest towns, only three -- Hillsborough (No. 3), Saratoga (No. 6) and Cupertino (No. 10) -- were in the Bay Area.

La Jolla was first, followed by Manhattan Beach (Los Angeles County).

Insurance Firm Eyes New Site in Vacaville

Insurance Firm Eyes New Site in Vacaville
By Nathan Halverson

FAIRFIELD - A nonprofit insurance company is negotiating for a new office in Vacaville that could bring as many as 1,000 jobs, according to Vacaville city officials.

The California State Compensation Insurance Fund was established by the state in 1914 as a nonprofit chartered to provide employee compensation insurance protection for businesses.

It will be a big economic boost to the city, said Vacaville Vice Mayor Pauline Clancy.

"We've been trying to get a huge office complex out here," Clancy said.

State Fund is looking at a vacant 32-acre site adjacent to the Vacaville Genentech plant, which is located at 1000 New Horizons Way between interstates 80 and 505.

Jim Zelinski, a spokesman for State Fund, said the company plans to build a new office building and is negotiating with a property owner in Vacaville.

"Nothing has been finalized. The negotiations are ongoing," he said.

State Fund also has a processing center in Fairfield. Zelinski said about 760 people were employed there. Zelinski declined to comment on the future of the Fairfield center.

Sean Quinn, director of planning and development for the city of Fairfield, said the processing center has a lease through 2011.
Quinn said the company will likely consider its options, including consolidating to the Vacaville location, when the lease runs out.

State Fund owns its 16-story headquarters, located in downtown San Francisco.

The company operates solely in California and only provides worker compensation insurance. It provides its insurance at cost - it does not tack on a profit margin - and is intended to be a self-supporting public service that does not use tax dollars.

State Fund provides insurance to 240,000 businesses across California.

Ian Thompson contributed to this story. Reach Nathan Halverson at 425-4646 ext. 267 or nhalverson@dailyrepublic.net.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Positive Road Ahead

Positive Road Ahead
SCC Future Seems Bright Well Down the Road

Despite funding woes of the past several years and the perennial anguish over faculty contract talks, Solano Community College's future has taken a turn for the better, as was evident in the annual "state of the college" address by its president last week.

Superintendent-President Paulette Perfumo took to the stage as a new semester kicked off and extolled a number of new projects that will bring formidable improvements to the Rockville campus and beyond - from the construction of a $13 million extension campus in Vallejo to the doubling of the college's main campus.

Noteworthy is a $6 million state grant that will enable SCC to double the size of its nursing program, which has a 260-student waiting list. A critical nursing shortage in California and across the nation has put great pressure on community colleges to educate as many new nurses as possible, as promptly as possible.

SCC's program is a solid one that will expand and fill the need for more health-care professionals.

It is also good that the college received a $1.3 million federal grant will help the business department create a new insurance certification program at SCC. Such certification programs help students with training for a good first job or the retraining for a new career.

The bond-funded construction projects are moving ahead. SCC, during the next two months, will solicit bids for two major projects - a $13 million extension campus in Vallejo and an $11 million new student services building on its main campus in Fairfield - funded by a $100 million bond.

Once these and other bond construction is completed, students, faculty and staff will have better services and facilities that are bound to improve the overall educational experience and continue to bolster SCC's overall image as an educational institution and a source for a well-trained work force.

In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's initial budget provides a higher cost-of-living adjustment - 5.18 percent - than previous years, as well as sizable equalization money - $130 million statewide.

And along the way, SCC has earned some well-deserved accolades. Noteworthy among them are the garnering of several commendations for innovation, community involvement and internal collaboration from a regional evaluation team during the school's periodic accreditation process.

That's a lot of positives.

It's unfortunate that many of the teachers weren't there to hear it. They engaged in a 90-minute boycott and instead spent the time strategizing about deadlocked contract negotiations.

This has been an ongoing issue, this disconnect between administration and teachers at SCC. It is one that must be addressed by all sides so that it will never overshadow the truly positive aspects ahead for SCC.

Unemployment Drops Locally

Unemployment Drops Locally
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Vacaville's unemployment rate was 3.3 percent for December, down from 3.7 in November and 3.8 in October, according to preliminary data released by the state's Employment Development Department.

Solano County's unemployment rate has also slightly declined, dropping by .6 percent. Preliminary figures show it was 4.6 percent in December, down from a revised 5.2 percent for both November and October.

With regards to the December figures for the number of jobs in Solano County - which have declined .4 percent from November, for a total 130,000 jobs - EDD spokeswoman Cynthia Solorio said there were no real surprises.

"Preliminary numbers indicate most of the losses were due to seasonality," Solorio said. "The farm industry lost 200 jobs, the construction industry lost 400 jobs - probably due to the weather - and local government education lost 200 jobs, probably due to the winter recess.

"The year-over job gains, however, in Solano County were pretty healthy," Solorio said. The number of jobs increased by 1.7 percent from Dec. 2004 to Dec. 2005.

A total of 2,200 job were added, with additions occurring in most of the major industries, she explained. The only industries that showed zero growth from Dec. 2004 to Dec. 2005 were the farm and financial activities sectors.

"One of the areas that lost jobs over the year was the leisure and hospitality section," Solorio said, "and that was primarily in food services." The sector lost 300 jobs.

Amanda Janis can be reached atbusiness@thereporter.com.

Simonton Windows Celebrate 60th Anniversary

Simonton Windows Celebrate 60th Anniversary

FAIRFIELD - Simonton Windows, which has a manufacturing plant in Vacaville, turns 60 in 2006.
To mark the occasion, the West Virginia-based company donated about $600,000 in windows and doors to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The doors have been donated to the North Carolina Baptist Men's Group, which is working in Mississippi to help hurricane victims.

In addition, the company will donate $60,000 to organizations and events in communities where it has operations, including Vacaville.

"Simonton has a long history of supporting the communities, people and organizations associated with our company," said Rick Keup, president of Simonton Windows, in a statement. "Most importantly, this milestone anniversary allows us to focus on our future growth. Right now we're on a strategic path toward increasing our products, customer services and community support.

Fairfield-Suisun Transit Passes on Hybrid Busses

Fairfield-Suisun Transit Passes on Hybrid Busses
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Fairfield-Suisun Transit System is among 11 transit agencies with the option to buy General Motors hybrid-powered buses - an option it isn't ready to exercise just yet.

The city doesn't need any new buses, Transit Manager George Fink said. That gives it time to see how the newer technology works out.

"The key thing we want to do is make sure it's the right purchase for the city of Fairfield," Fink said.

Hybrid buses work on a similar principle as gas-hybrid autos such as the Toyota Prius. They operate on fuel when on highways, then switch to a battery when in slow city traffic, boosting mileage.

There are 380 General Motors diesel-hybrid buses operating in the United States and Canada, a company press release said. Among the benefits are better fuel mileage, quieter buses, less emissions of some air pollutants and reduced maintenance costs, it said.

Fairfield-Suisun and 10 other transit agencies formed a consortium that awarded a contract for up to 157 diesel-electric hybrids to Gillig Corp. These buses will be powered by the General Motors hybrid system.

The San Joaquin Regional Transit District plans on buying 50 buses, a General Motors release said. The other consortium members have options on the remaining 107 buses.

Fairfield-Suisun uses mostly diesel fuel buses. These buses cost about $300,000, compared to about $500,000 for a comparable diesel-electric hybrid, Fink said.

Hybrid buses get 20 percent to 30 percent better gas mileage than the diesel buses for in-town driving, Fink said. The diesel buses get about 5 to 6 miles per gallon, he said.

There are some things about the hybrids that give Fink pause, in addition to the higher price. He wants to know if they will last the 12 years expected of a standard bus. He wants to know how much training city mechanics will need to service the hybrids.

So Fairfield-Suisun might let bigger transit agencies try the hybrid buses first, to see how they like them.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Westamerica Bancorporation reports highest income

Print Article: "
Article Last Updated: 1/20/2006 06:30 AM

Bank reports highest income


Westamerica Bancorporation on Thursday reported record net income of $107.4 million for 2005.
That figure compares to $95.2 million for 2004.
Diluted earnings per share for 2005 were $3.27, an 11 percent increase from $2.93 in 2004. Results for 2005 include available-for-sale securities losses, gains on the sale of real estate, and company owned life insurance proceeds, which combined to increase net income for the firm to $247,000.
Return on shareholders' equity for 2005 was 26 percent and return on assets was 2.12 percent, compared to 28.8 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, in 2004. For the year 2005, shareholder dividends totaled $1.22 per share, an 11 percent increase from $1.10 per share in 2004.
'During the fourth quarter, our focus on reducing high-cost funding sources helped our net interest margin,' said CEO David Payne. 'We are pleased to be generating a 26 percent return on our shareholders' equity.'
Net income for the fourth quarter 2005 totaled $27.6 million.
Westamerica Bancorporation is parent company of Westamerica Bank, which has branches in Vacaville, Fairfield, Suisun, Benicia and Vallejo."

Genentech's new vision drug showing promise

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Article Last Updated: 1/21/2006 08:00 AM

New vision drug showing promise

By Reporter Staff

Genentech announced encouraging results in its clinical trials of the drug Lucentis, being tested on patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, or AMD.

After one year of its second Phase III study, the company found that Lucentis maintained or improved the vision of approximately 95 percent of patients.
'Lucentis is the first investigational therapy that has shown improved vision, not just a slowing of vision loss, in patients with all types of wet AMD,' said Peter K. Kaiser, the director of the Clinical Research Center at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute, who presented the data at a medical symposium in New York last week.

'As a result,' he said, 'physicians may be one step closer to being able to set a new expectation for the future treatment of this condition.

AMD - which occurs in two forms, dry and wet - is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60. The National Eye Institute estimates that there are 1.6 million people with AMD in the United States and that is expected to grow to 2.95 million by the year 2020.

Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes biotherapeutics for significant unmet medical needs. "

A 'driving' force - Golf Etc. taps open market

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Article Last Updated: 1/21/2006 08:00 AM

A 'driving' force
Golf Etc. taps open market
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Golf course greens pepper Solano County scenery, though golf specialty stores independent from courses are not so omnipresent.
Cordelia's Golf Etc., which opened in July as part of a nation-wide franchise, is owned by Napa residents Art and Teresa Morris.
'There are a lot of golf courses around here,' Morris said, 'but no shops to service them.'
Morris, who characterized himself as a 'brand new entrepreneur,' explained that he was recently recalled into active duty with the Air Force, and 'during that time I decided I wanted to have my own business.'
After approximately a year of research, Morris said, he 'ran out of excuses not to open it.'
Golf Etc. carries $350,000 worth of golf products and golf-related gifts, from clubs to male and female apparel and even Tiffany lamps.
The shop also repairs, reshafts and regrips clubs and offers computerized fitting. The computerized fitting system is something that Morris feels is particularly important, especialy with the amount of money people spend on clubs.
With the shop's P-3 Pro-Swing analyzer, Morris said, people are paired with the clubs best suited for them.
'We can help make sure it's a sound investment, that the clubs are going to be right for them.'
Golf Etc. is located at 104-A Commerce Ct., Cordelia.
Amanda Janis can be reached at business@thereporter.com. "

New Year, New Hope in Suisun

New Year, New Hope in Suisun
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - A downtown on the cusp of more commercial development, a police department adding more officers and a council hopeful of seeing a balanced budget this year, if not the next.

The new year is expected to be a big one for Suisun City, according to its leaders.

"This year presents the most potential for a healthy Suisun City," Mayor Jim Spering said. "We are starting to see all that investment in the Old Town and the Sunset area pay off."

"We are the type of city that does move forward, but this year we are really going to be rushing forward," City Councilwoman Jane Day said, adding the progress she sees pleases her.

Spering particularly points to the city's Old Town, where the city is in negotiations with a master developer to jump-start that area's economy.

"You are going to see dramatic changes on the west side of Main Street," Spering said. "The whole face will change dramatically within two years, for sure, with stuff starting to come out of the ground this year."

Main Street West

The success of the city's Main Street West campaign will be "a financial vehicle that accelerates everything else," Spering said.

That includes bringing in several small enterprises such as live-work businesses and a hoped for anchor tenant.

Main Street West is a second phase in the redevelopment of the downtown that started in the early 1990s where development concentrated on the east side of Main Street.

City leaders had hoped private property owners would follow the city's lead and develop their own land on the street's west side, but that failed to happen.

The city already vowed to have its lighthouse up and running by this year's Fourth of July celebration as a symbol of the efforts.

City Councilman Sam Derting described Suisun City in 2006 as having a bright future with several projects in the pipeline to bring more people and businesses into town.

"This is more movement than we have seen in the last 10 years," Derting said.

Part of that reason is that businesses are seeing Suisun City as an opportunity and are meeting a city staff that is more willing to work with them than in the past, Derting said.

Gentry land, housing

Derting specifically pointed out the continued redevelopment of the downtown, the coming annexation of the Gentry land located south of Highway 12 and west of Old Town and plans to put more development along Highway 12 and in and around the Marina Center.

Wal-Mart has expressed interest in establishing itself on the land as an anchor tenant while the city is busy courting other possible businesses.

"We have several housing projects coming, including a couple of affordable housing projects that will allow us to meet our state requirements," Derting said.

"There is quite a bit of work going on," Day added, including the Main Street West project and realignment of Railroad Avenue, which is moving forward quickly.

"We are working with the Bridge Corporation to put in more low- to moderate-income housing. We are in contact with many people, trying to bring businesses into town and we are also working with the old Crystal school site," Day said.

The city's next target for a large commercial development, the Gentry property, could be annexed into the city this year.

"Every possibility for bringing in commercial development is being looked at closely because we are too close to buildout not to," Day said. "We are working toward build-out. We are hitting our stride at this point. Things are going along quite nicely."

The recent agreement to move Travis Air Force Base's Aero Club will free up more land to finally complete the Peterson Ranch subdivision, which means adding up to 140 more homes in that area.

Hiring three new police officers and plans to hire three more is expected to put the Suisun City Police Department up to full strength, spurring the hope to have the department resume around-the-clock coverage of city streets, Spering said.

Balancing the budget

Selling the city's property on Twin Sisters and commercial development along Highway 12 has put more money in city coffers to make this possible.

The recent sale of the Twin Sisters property was the right move, Day said. She considered it a liability to the city which has now been converted into cash that will allow the city to make it over the current fiscal rough spots.

Last year, the city's general fund spent $7.1 million, $125,000 more that it brought in.

The city's budget deficit will decrease but it will be a year before the city's income will equal its spending without transfers from other city funds to bolster the general fund, Spering said.

"The sales tax (revenues) jumped upward last year and I expect the sales tax will see a considerable jump this year," Spering said.

Derting is more optimistic than Spering.

"Financially, we are going to have our budget balanced this year," Derting said, adding the city is conducting a cost and compensation study to see how Suisun City's employees stack up against similar cities.

"They have been lagging for some time and we would like to repay them," Derting said.

The increasing development will bring in badly needed funds to city coffers, some of which will have to be put to streets.

"It will give us the money to deal with badly needed repairs to roads and other infrastructure in the city," Day said.

"The tough parts of the job will be local streets and roads, the infrastructure. We need to start figuring out what we will do," Spering said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

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