Everything you need to know for TODAY’S Planning Commission meeting

By Roger Straw, February 11, 2016
[Editor:  Well, ALMOST everything.  For more details, see EVENTS.  - RS]
UPDATE: 
A FOURTH PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING has been called for TONIGHT, THURSDAY, FEB. 11, 6:30pm.  Public comment is now closed, but it will be just as important to fill the chamber with concerned residents and regional support.  Be there if you can!  Arrive early to get a seat in Council Chambers.

Tonight, the first portion of the meeting will be given over to City staff and consultants.  According to Community Development Director Christina Ratcliffe, City staff will begin by discussing new materials given to Commissioners last night.  City Attorney Heather McLaughlin, notably absent during Commission procedings to date, was observed midway through the evening Wednesday delivering a huge stack of documents, presumably for Commissioners’ review.  It stands to reason that these documents will have further comments and instructions having to do with federal “preemption.”

City staff will also take time in the opening portion of tonight’s meeting to answer questions put to staff previously during the hearings, to which staff had responded that they would need to “look into it.”

Commissioners will no doubt interact with staff with further questions and clarifications, so it is likely Commissioners will not move into their final deliberations until – anybody’s guess – an hour or two (or three or four) go by.  Those deliberations and final statements are likely to take some time as well.  Director Ratcliffe advised Commissioners to bring their calendars to Thursday’s meeting, in case they need to schedule yet another continuation at a “date certain.”

PREVIOUSLY:

Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community has been waging a critical fossil-fuel expansion battle virtually alone. Now it’s crunch time! We MUST stand with them!

On Monday and Tuesday nights, we witnessed history in the making. In an act of citizen heroism, Benicia Planning Commissioners directed pointed question after pointed question to City Staff, contract attorneys, paid consultants and Valero executives.  At critical moments, consultants couldn’t even defend their own report and some in the audience were heard to whisper “shame on you.” The hearing will continue tonight and quite possibly Thursday night.

Valero’s control over the city of Benicia is pervasive and pernicious. This battle has national and global ramifications. We need to turn out in force to encourage the Planning Commission to vote down Valero’s dirty crude proposal.

Sure, attending a meeting at Benicia City Hall at 6pm is inconvenient. But really, is this about us and our comfort level? We’re in a war for the soul of our community, our country and our planet.

Are you in?

Where: Benicia City Council Chambers | 250 East L St. Benicia
When: Arrive by 5:00 if you want a seat in the CC Chambers.
More info: http://safebenicia.org/news-and-events/


EARLIER:
Benicians For a Safe and Healthy Community is calling for a big turnout at the Monday Feb. 8 meeting of Benicia’s Planning Commission.  I join them in a sense of urgency.  See their call to action here.

This IS a critical moment for our city.  We have signed petitions, planted our yard signs, written letters to the city and the local newspapers, shown up at previous hearings … and now it all comes down to next week.

After yet another a final flood of letters by uprail agencies and environmental and legal experts; after we and Valero supporters jam City Hall and make our case on Monday, Tuesday and perhaps Wednesday and Thursday … our hard-working Planning Commissioners will close their massive 3-volume studies, ask some questions, make their own final comments, and vote.

Commissioners will vote first on whether to “certify” the Final Draft Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).  This will determine whether the report is adequate under California law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).   If they decline to certify the report, Valero will have to decide whether to 1) revise the report again and go through another set of hearings, 2) drop the project, or 3) appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the Benicia City Council.

If on the other hand Commissioners vote to certify the report, then they will have a second vote: whether to approve or deny issuing a permit for Valero to proceed with its project.  If they vote to deny the permit, Valero will have to decide whether to start all over with a new proposal, drop the project, or appeal the decision to the City Council.  If our Commission decides to issue a permit for the project, Valero will get out the shovels and hardhats, but some among us might consider further action to stop the project, including an appeal to City Council.

Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community has a News & Events page with all you need to know about Monday’s Planning Commission hearing.  Please come.  Plan to attend on Monday AND Tuesday.  Your presence is powerful.BSHC

Evite_Tell_BeniciaRSVP - Yes, I will attend the Feb. 8 Commission Hearing.  Click here.

Sign here!

Over 1300 have already signed the Safe Benicia petition.  Let’s hit 2000 today! Click the image above, or email us at info@safebenicia.org

WHY VALERO’S EIR FAILS:

HERE’S THE STAFF RECOMMENDATION TO APPROVE:

Please share!