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As Stockton Enters Bankruptcy, Vallejo Continues Its Recovery

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VALLEJO (CBS13) – What can small business owners and residents in Stockton expect if and when the city declares for bankruptcy?

CBS13′s Ben Sosenko was in Vallejo, the city that declared for bankruptcy back in 2008, on Tuesday to see how that city has responded.

The city is less than half the size of Stockton, but people here know exactly what the citizens of Stockton are going through.

Four years ago, Vallejo was Stockton, the largest California city to ever file for bankruptcy.

“I think it affected the way people thought about Vallejo,” business owner Greg Leopold said. “It certainly made worldwide or at least U.S. news.”

But what made national news hit home for Leopold, a custom framer. One of his clients was the city of Vallejo.

“Their use of my services declined of course when they were going through bankruptcy, and now it’s coming back online again as they pull themselves out,” he said.

Dwight Barnes has lived and worked in Vallejo since 1961. He has advice for the people of Stockton.

“Some of the services that you were taking for granted, you’re suddenly going to be missing them,” he said.

Barnes points specifically to changes in luxury services, like library hours. But he says there is a silver lining. Things in Vallejo are gradually improving.

“Since we are coming out of bankruptcy, the upkeep and maintenance of the parks are a whole lot better,” he said.

On Georgia Street, one of the main drags in town, business owners say they never noticed a change in public safety.

“It’s been fine,” Thomas Wajak said. “I lived in S.F. for a long time. There were a lot more problems there then I ever had in Vallejo.”

But for people here, the question remains: Is Vallejo truly on the mend, or was bankruptcy just a temporary fix?

“You know how it is with a band-aid. But you have to pull off the band-aid eventually and then allow additional healing to take place,” Barnes said.

Vallejo fully emerged from bankruptcy after three years. But one bankruptcy attorney told CBS13 that it could take a good deal longer in Stockton.

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