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Why Solano County Is The Worst County In The Bay Area

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Photo of the Carquinez Bridge leading into Solano County. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

If you don’t live in Solano County, it’s easy to forget that it exists. It’s a sprawling mess of suburbia that stretches from the northeastern edge of the Bay to the inland interior of the Sacramento Valley. If any part of Northern California could be considered fly-over country, Solano County would be it. 

That’s not to say Solano County doesn’t have any redeeming qualities, it does. Vallejo, Solano County’s biggest and most famous city, is also America’s most diverse city. That’s correct. Vallejo is more diverse than Oakland. Vallejo’s diversity was even the subject of an article by the New York Times. And for those who hate gentrification, Vallejo is BY FAR the least gentrified city in the Bay Area. It’s also the hometown of like half of the Bay’s rap scene. 

Solano County’s other relatively large city and county seat, Fairfield, is America’s 6th most diverse city, with neighboring Suisun City not far behind. 

Solano County is also pretty well-located. It borders Napa, Sonoma, (wine country) Contra Costa (the East Bay), Sacramento (the fucking capital) and Yolo County (because you only live once). The southwestern end of Solano County is 30 miles from San Francisco and the northeastern end is like 14 miles from Downtown Sacramento. Pretty cool, right? 

Solano County is a gigantic fucking mess. And it probably won’t get better.

Shockingly, the answer is no.

Solano County is a gigantic fucking mess. And it probably won’t get better.

Remember Vallejo? The diverse, ungentrified utopia of the Bay? Well, the Vallejo Police Department has taken it upon themselves to make living there fucking awful. Vallejo is home to every walk of life and VPD works hard to make sure many of them will never walk again. I wrote an article about it. So did everyone else. Vice did a documentary on them. After it aired, VPOA, which is VPD’s union, rehired the guy that they fired because he publicly threatened a journalist from the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Vallejo is a PR nightmare and a journalist’s wet dream. Vallejo also went bankrupt. It’s also home to the Zodiac Killer. It’s an overachiever when it comes to underachieving. I lived there for five years. Great times. 

But this article isn’t only about Vallejo, it’s about the entire fucking county. 

Remember when COVID was in full swing? Solano County was the least vaccinated of the Bay Area’s nine counties and fucking no one wore masks. Like literally no one. I used to work in Vacaville at the beginning of the pandemic, and I remember reading signs on lawns equating covid restrictions to the Holocaust. Also Papa Roach is from Vacaville, which really puts the song “Last Resort” into context. 

Then there’s Dixon, which is full-blown Trump country. The Vice-Mayor of Dixon called for a straight pride month. Yes, that’s right. An elected official from a city with a name pronounced DICKS IN needed a month to prove to the world that he loves pussy. Which is honestly the most closeted thing I’ve ever heard.  

Fairfield and Suisun are just kind of there. They’re similar to Antioch in the sense that they’re aggressively suburban but people still get shot. That’s pretty much all I have to say. Oh, and there’s the Jelly Belly factory. Which certainly is a thing. 

Then there’s fucking Benicia, which is like Solano County’s crown jewel. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s next to world class cities like… Martinez and Vallejo. How could they not be snooty? Benicia is the city people go to when they want to act better than other people, but can’t really afford to. It is Solano County’s most functional city. But considering who their peers are, that’s not really an accomplishment. It’s also in close proximity to four of the five Bay Area oil refineries, so even if Benicia is nice for Solano, the air quality is a reminder that you’re still in Solano. 

Solano County is also home to several right wing militia groups, but that’s an entirely different article.

The truth is, I shit on these places because I care. I left Oakland when I was twelve years old, and spent a lot of time in the less than glamorous parts of the Bay Area. Many of the forgotten communities in Contra Costa and Solano County need help and no one listens. I hope my humor spreads awareness. While Solano County may feel a world away from the Bay Area’s urban core, it’s not, and events like the death of Sean Monterrosa prove that people outside of these areas can easily be affected by bad policies and the culture that enables them in other parts of the Bay Area. 







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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is an Oakland-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground is available now!