Friday, November 30, 2007

Boat parade among highlights of Suisun City Christmas festivities

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic
SUISUN CITY - Their yacht's so big Don and Barbara Sefcik 'only' strung Christmas lights around the deck. They also put wreathes in the windows and festoon the top with six, count 'em six, decorated trees.

Some of the smaller boats at the Suisun City Marina and Solano Yacht Club, Don Sefcik pointed out, will be literally covered in lights stem to stern in preparation for the annual holiday Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday.

The party begins on the boats at 4 p.m. Shortly after 5 p.m., the boats will simultaneously turn on their holiday lights and make two passes through the harbor. A pontoon boat lit to look like a sleigh will deposit Santa Claus at the public dock at 5:30 p.m.

Santa will light the city's Christmas tree at the end of Solano Street, and there will be a fireworks show over the marina.

The Sefciks have been berthing boats in the Suisun City marina and participating in the Boat Parade since before the current harbor was built in 1994. When the marina was under construction, Don Sefcik told the then-harbormaster that he wanted to be on the waiting list for a slip.

Told there was no such list, his response was, 'We ought to start one.' His name was the first on it.

Don and Barbara Sefcik, married 23 years with six grown kids between them, bought their 57-foot yacht two years ago when they sold their Fairfield house in which they lived for 31 years. When they're not on the yacht, they live in an Oakley waterfront condo in which, through those years, they have also spent a lot of time.

Swapping the four-bedroom house for the yacht, a fixer-upper, wasn't a difficult decision, both said. Barbara Sefcik, 63, comes to Fairfield two or three times a week to work in the deli the two still own at the courthouse. Don Sefcik, 70, helps out with maintenance at the yacht club one or two days a week.

When they're here, they live on the yacht. There are three bedrooms, and each has a bathroom.

After the parade Saturday, member boats and others will drop anchor for a potluck spaghetti feed. The parade started 20 years ago and has become a tradition, drawing 15 or more boats. This year, as many as 25 are expected to participate.

Taking a break from boat decorating, Barbara Sefcik gazed out the expansive windows of her spacious on-deck living room. Viewing the acres of open water, blue sky and array of vessels, she remembered the years of hard work that have resulted in this dream life.

'We're lucky,' she said, with a smile of contentment.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at

Suisun City Council to focus on foreclosures

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Carol Bogart

SUISUN CITY - Buying a home in Suisun City may soon be more affordable as a result of the growing tide of foreclosures in the city.

As of Nov. 27, 21 percent of Suisun City properties on the Multiple Listing Service are bank-owned, according to MLS foreclosure statistics, compared with 18 percent in Solano County. Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez said more than 10 percent of the county's foreclosures are in Suisun City.

'It's something we really have to address aggressively,' Sanchez said.

Sanchez believes one solution could come from money the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency has set aside for affordable housing. State law requires that 20 percent of tax money collected for redevelopment be set aside for that purpose. Currently, Sanchez said, there is $8 million in the Housing Set Aside fund.

If the city doesn't use the money for affordable housing, the state could put a hold on money earmarked for redevelopment projects the city wants, Sanchez said.

Sanchez would like to see the city subsidize by $80,000 to $100,000 the purchase price of homes for sale in the $320,000 range. This, he said, would allow private sales to those who might not otherwise be able to afford homes and keep some houses out of foreclosure.

Suisun City's bank-owned properties will be a topic of discussion at the City Council meeting Tuesday. The discussion will focus on how the city can shape policy to stem the foreclosure tide and take steps to help residents deal with possible crime, code enforcement and declining property values when neighbors abandon foreclosed properties.

Already, Sanchez said, the city has had one or two instances in which homeless people have tried to occupy an abandoned foreclosed structure.

If the city can free up money in the Housing Set Aside fund to subsidize the cost of buying some of the homes in danger of foreclosure, 100 homes in Suisun City could immediately come off the foreclosure list and cut the city's foreclosure rate by a third, Sanchez said.

The mayor, who worked for 23 years in the tax assessor's office, said the city has long referred to homeowners who fail to maintain their lawns and cut down tall weeds as 'equity thieves.' The modern version, he said, is banks that fail to accelerate moving foreclosed homes back into private ownership.

'A boarded-up house every 10 to 15 houses negatively impacts the city,' Sanchez said.

According to information published by the city, the foreclosure situation in Suisun City seems to be manageable right now but will likely get worse before it gets better.

In a recent two-week period, the number of foreclosed properties listed increased by 20, according to the city.

Among other things that will be discussed Tuesday are steps other municipalities have taken to try to alleviate foreclosure-related problems. For example, the city information points to the Residential Abandonment Registration Program in Chula Vista. The program requires banks to assume responsibility for maintaining foreclosed properties. Sacramento has a similar program called the Vacant Building Ordinance.

The Suisun City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chamber at the Civic Center. For more information, visit

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at