Benicia Council election: Scott and Birdseye are in

Solano County shows “no outstanding ballots to process” – final result is unofficial, but election is all but complete

By Roger Straw, November 18, 2022

Day by day vote results Nov 8-18
Click chart to enlarge.
All ballots counted, handful of exceptions…
Click image to enlarge.

ALL mail-in ballots and provisional ballots have now been counted. The Registrar of Voters can still receive ballots dropped off at other counties, and signature cure letters can be received until November 28th. The Registrar of Voters expects to certify the final result by November 30.

Previous election updates on the BenIndy:

Former Mayor reflects on Benicia’s North Study Area Open House (Seeno property)

What’s wrong with the process – ignoring Benicia’s fundamental constitutional vision

Open space along Lake Herman Road, in Benicia CA

By Elizabeth Patterson, Former Benicia Mayor, November 17, 2022

Last night the city of Benicia began the North Study Area “visioning” process for the 524 acres owned by Seeno.  The North Gate Church setting was a perfect metaphor for what the challenges are for the near-by project site.  Everyone had to drive to the meeting.  And driving is the problem for any residential use of the Seeno property.  But these notes should start at the beginning.  Let me explain.

Benicia’s General Plan

The Benicia General Plan is our “constitution” of land use planning and management. Its goals and policies  guide and implement the overarching goal or “vision” for Benicia planning.  This plan was created by the General Plan Oversight Committee (GPOC), appointed by the then city council representing all sectors of the community.  It adopted consensus decision making procedures and began by identifying shared values.  Once those shared values were agreed to, GPOC began an exhaustive assessment of the city’s pattern of land use (residential, commercial, civic, cultural, recreation, manufacturing), its topography of hills, how cars, bicycles, pedestrian traffic moved, water supply, public safety, economics, environmental quality (air and water) and conservation including open space, habitat, and wetlands.

The overarching goal of the General Plan is sustainable development.  And there are specific policies addressing future development of the Seeno property and adjacent land uses mindful of sustainability.

The “North Study Area” community meeting on Nov 16, 2022

Nowhere in last night’s presentation on stage or at the “open house” of poster boards was there any mention of the General Plan, our constitution of land use planning and management.  Nowhere.

Also, one poster board depicted the “history” of the Seeno site without mentioning an adopted resolution by city council requiring:

    • a specific plan
    • consistency with General Plan overarching goal, supporting goals and policies, and
    • a development agreement.
2008 study: Green Gateway Business Community

Nor was there mention of the hours of public conversations some of which were recorded, nor mention of the facilitated public gathering to gain community agreement on the highest and best use of the Seeno property.  There was nothing said about the citizen study and 51-page report, Green Gateway Business Community. Nothing.


The current North Area Study process is not a stand alone project, but a project that must be consistent with the General Plan or recommend amendments to the General Plan.  To do so requires that each mandated and optional element in the General Plan is balanced and consistent.  What this means is that there must be measurable criteria for sustainable development, reduced vehicle miles traveled, public safety (meaning air, water, hazardous exposure, fire and police).  What is different in 2022 that requires General Plan amendments for these elements?

Significant questions and concerns…
  • Can the Seeno property be developed consistent with the existing General Plan?
  • Are there adjustments needed for future development that meet sustainable development?
  • How is the public to know what the decision making process is if they are not informed about these basics?

Alas, North Area Study is not a “visioning” process that is separate from the General Plan vision.  It is a project process.  The city and the City’s consultant need to make that clear, and if necessary, highlight what part of the vision of the General Plan should be changed and how those changes will affect sustainability.

Will the city adopt standards and criteria for sustainability?  If not, why not?

…and we could go on: there is Seeno and associates to consider.

Elizabeth Patterson
Former Mayor, City of Benicia

BENINDY NOTICE – Benicia’s “North Study Area” project (Seeno property)
And here’s current information from the City of Benicia website,

North Study Area

The North Study Area visioning project aims to solicit public input on potential future land use options for the North Study Area property. Community input, together with an economic analysis and evaluation of the property conditions, will be used to develop several mixed-use concepts for further public review. Once completed, the landowner may determine whether to move forward with initiating land use applications which must include a “Master Plan” (i.e., Specific Plan) as required by the Benicia General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

The study area is a 527-acre undeveloped property in the northeast corner of the city. The property is within the City’s urban growth boundary and fronts on Lake Herman Road and East Second Street.  Although a number of site development proposals have been considered over the years, most recently in 2016, none have come to fruition. The property is currently zoned Limited Industrial (IL) and General Commercial (CG).

Visioning Process

The City wants to partner with the community to envision the future of this area, which is the last remaining large tract of privately-owned undeveloped land within Benicia.

There will be a variety of opportunities to learn more about this effort and to provide feedback over the coming year. The City will solicit public input through a series of community meetings, public events, and on-line engagement opportunities. To receive the latest updates, you can sign up for project email notifications here.  The City expects to complete the visioning process by late 2023.

The North Study Area Community-Led Visioning Process is divided into the following primary tasks:

  • Existing Conditions Review: Review of background materials and existing conditions information relevant to the visioning process.
  • Economic Analysis: Analysis of real estate market conditions, financial feasibility of land use alternatives, and net annual fiscal impacts of land use alternatives.
  • Issues and Options: Evaluation of key issues and options associated with development options.
  • Mixed-use Concepts: Consideration of alternative land use concepts for the property.
  • Summary Report: Summary of public input received and areas of consensus that emerged from the visioning process.

Advisory Group

The City has formed an advisory group for the North Study Area project to help distribute information about the project, provide feedback on project materials, and to bring together diverse community perspectives. The advisory group consists of one representative selected by each of the following City committee/commissions and community organizations.  Meetings are open to the public.

City Committees/Commissions:

  • City Council Subcommittee for the North Study Area (2 members)
  • Economic Development Board
  • Community Sustainability Commission
  • Committee United for Racial Equity
  • Planning Commission

Community Organizations:

  • Benicia Chamber of Commerce
  • Benicia Industrial Park Association
  • Matthew Turner Elementary Parent Teacher Group
  • Sustainable Solano
  • Benicia Unified School District
  • Housing First Solano

Project Documents

To be added as materials become available.

Advisory Group Meeting 1 (11/9/2022)




Existing Conditions Maps


Background Documents

Adopted City Plans and Policies

Studies and Reports

Moving Solano Forward II – Final Report (2017)

Refinery Air Watch – new website shows missing info on Valero Benicia and across U.S.

New Website Highlights Gaps in Communities’ Access to Air Quality Data

By email, November 16, 2022

“Refineries are being forced to measure toxic chemicals they release. But they still don’t want the people next door to know what they’re breathing,” said Dr. Gwen Ottinger, Associate Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “That’s where Refinery Air Watch comes in.”

Launched this week, is a project of Ottinger’s lab, the Fair Tech Collective, graphic design firm SAYGRID, and a coalition of residents from refinery-adjacent communities in the San Francisco Bay area.

>> The site lets users download air quality data that industry and government-run websites make hard to access. It calls out refineries that take measurements but don’t make them available for download by the public. And it exposes widespread failures by the oil industry to support communities’ right to know. Out of 116 refineries in the United States, only 12 measure chemical concentrations continuously or collect data about more than one pollutant.

“In our community,” Benicia, California resident Constance Beutel said, “We went 15 years with undisclosed toxic emissions from the Valero refinery. There was no monitoring in the community so we didn’t know how dangerous our air had become.”

Click image for Benicia details at

Beutel’s group, the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, eventually established the Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program, which measures hazardous pollutants at 5-minute intervals and has publicly available data. Getting the program going was incredibly significant for the community, Beutel said: “Without actual real-time data, we in the public are unaware of the health risks and dangers we live with daily. Having as a resource for us and other communities is a huge step forward for the public.”

Refinery Air Watch makes data available for download. It also uses standardized measurements of benzene, required by the Environmental Protection Agency to be taken at refineries across the U.S., to show which refineries have the largest impact on neighbors, which states have the worst polluters, and which corporations are responsible. The site’s designer, Andee Mazzocco of SAYGRID, notes “we collected data from a federally mandated data dump and transformed it into meaningful information citizens can easily access and rely on.”

“This is an environmental justice issue,” said Ottinger. “Six million people live within three miles of an oil refinery, and they’re more likely than other Americans to be people of color, low income, or both. We know that toxic emissions from refineries are one more manifestation of structural racism. But we can’t understand the full extent of the problem if we’re not insisting that refineries measure their pollution and make the data readily available for communities, scientists, and investigative journalists to analyze. Refinery Air Watch sends the message that regulatory agencies need to drastically improve their requirements for air monitoring and data access.”


Wednesday Benicia election results: the race is called for sure

All mail-in and election day ballots counted, bulk of provisional ballots counted, only about 300 countywide remain to be counted, only about 30 for Benicia, not enough to affect the outcome.

By Roger Straw, November 16, 2022

Wednesday’s count of provisional ballots at our Solano County Registrar of Voters did not affect the final outcome of Benicia’s City Council race. Frontrunners Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye maintained a solid lead, and are now assured victory.

Today’s Preliminary Results (click image to enlarge)
Click image to enlarge. Source: Solano County Registrar of Voters.
Yesterday, Nov 15 Today, Nov 16
Scott: 5,613 votes, 24.74% Scott: +29 votes = 5,642votes,
Birdseye: 5,391 votes, 23.76% Birdseye: +23 votes = 5,414 votes, 23.77%
Largaespada: 5,243 votes, 23.11% Largaespada: +17 votes = 5,260 votes, 23.09%
Strawbridge: 4,793 votes, 21.13% Strawbridge: +17 votes = 4,810 votes, 21.11%
Innes: 1,645 votes, 7.25% Innes: +10 votes = 1,655 votes,

Scott’s lead over Birdseye increased today by 6 from 222 to 228. Birdseye’s lead over Largaespada increased by 6 from 148 to 154.

Votes outstanding (click image to enlarge)
Click image to enlarge. Source: Solano County Registrar of Voters.

ALL mail-in ballots have now been counted. Another 322 or so provisional ballots – countywide – must be counted. Benicia is typically about 10% of total Solano votes, so there are perhaps 30 or so provisional ballots for Benicia, clearly not enough to change any of the final results. This election race is over for sure!

The Registrar of Voters expects to certify the final result by November 30.

Previous updates on the BenIndy: