Bay Trail and Vallejo: (Never) Mind the Gap

Since 2015, community activists in Vallejo have been fighting a proposal to build a cement factory on the Bay's edge.

The old Sperry Mill on Vallejo’s waterfront is just hundreds of feet from a residential neighborhood. This is the location that is being proposed for the Orcem cement factory and Vallejo Marine Terminal. Photo by Joel Williams


Published: June, 2018


Since 2015, community activists in Vallejo have been fighting a proposal to build a cement factory on the Bay’s edge. Bay Crossings has reported on much of our struggle—and our success—in uncovering the negative impacts of the factory pollution, excessive truck traffic and potential harm to the Bay environment a waterfront cement factory would cause.


Last month, we received a shock when we learned representatives of the Bay Trail are lobbying the cement factory developers for donations.


Public records retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed talks between Bay Trail, the City of Vallejo and the Orcem cement factory consultant for a possible $380,000 donation from Orcem to close gaps in the Bay and Vine Trail in North Vallejo.


North Vallejo? The proposed cement factory would be in South Vallejo, a low-income neighborhood. But, Bay Trail is seeking a donation from the cement factory for a bike path in more affluent North Vallejo, far from the South Vallejo neighborhood that would suffer from a constant cement grinding operation.


Is this really fair compensation? And is the Bay Trail missing the irony that they are partnering with a waterfront cement factory that would directly prevent them from completing the Bay Trail?


It is unlikely that many residents in South Vallejo would share an enthusiasm for biking to the Napa wine country with our more affluent residents while South Vallejo suffers the negative environmental impacts of a cement factory in their neighborhood.


The records show that the authors of the final environmental impact report have struggled over the years to find a way to compensate for Orcem/VMT eliminating public access to the South Vallejo waterfront. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) requires in-lieu mitigation for the loss of public access to the waterfront, and Orcem/VMT has floated a number of ideas that have been shot down by commission staff. A proposed kayak launch ramp at the Vallejo marina proved problematic because the neighborhoods deprived of waterfront access would be geographically separated from the mitigation, and their residents are not likely to be among the users of a kayak launch ramp.


It is our hope that once representatives of the Bay Trail organization become aware of the full range of negative impacts and the extent of public opposition to the cement factory proposal, they will reconsider participating in any effort to help mitigate the irreplaceable loss of public access to the South Vallejo waterfront.


Bay Trail’s involvement in mitigation would predictably become part of a corporate public relations effort to sell the ill-conceived Orcem/VMT cement factory project—in effect financing modest trail improvements at a much more significant cost to the health and quality of life of some of our most vulnerable residents over the next half-century.


We regard this as an environmental justice issue, and believe it’s time for local governments, agencies and organizations to give more than lip service to these principles. We urge readers to contact the Bay Trail and ask them to support the residents of Vallejo and reject the proposed Orcem/VMT mitigation.


The Bay Trail organization must understand that grassroots support is worth far more to the trail project over the long term than a one-time corporate donor that would block contiguous waterfront access and harm local neighborhoods for many decades to come.


Peter Brooks is the president of Fresh Air Vallejo. For more information on this subject and how to get involved, visit