Tag Archives: Benicia City Council

Terry Scott Announces Candidacy for Benicia City Council

PEOPLE OVER POLITICS – Facing the Challenge of Change

BENICIA — Terry Scott, a long time Benicia resident, seasoned businessman, futurist and philanthropist has announced he is running for Benicia City Council.   

“I am running because I believe the role of City Council is to make the hard decisions now in order to maintain our quality of life tomorrow,” he said  

“The next four years will be full of important opportunities for our city—as well as present many complex challenges.  I will bring to the Council proven business leadership and the ability to build bridges through transparency, strategy, collaboration, and a commonsense view leading to practical solutions”, he added.  

Mr. Scott has served as Chair of the Arts and Culture Commission, Public Art Committee, a founding member and former Executive Director of the Benicia Community Foundation as well as helped form several philanthropic and local civic groups.

“Benicia is a strong community. It requires strong leadership, one with vision,” he said.  

Mr. Scott added, “My vision for Benicia is to be an economically vibrant community while at the same time preserving its friendly, small-town atmosphere. Benicia is a special place, rich with history. I’m passionate about maintaining a community that embraces all people with all perspectives, supports local art and provides a safe home for its residents with clean air and water.”  

“We must be prepared to face the challenge of change and find ways to thrive. Benicia is a multi generational community. Whether you chose to live here in retirement, to raise your family or start one, we are all hungry to experience the quality of life unique to our amazing town. That change requires us to look at the needs and wants of current and future residents.  

“I am running because I believe the role of City Council is to make hard decisions now to maintain our quality of life for tomorrow.” 

“Through my extensive work and service to our community, I’ve built a reputation for finding solutions, putting in the work and getting things done. The key to all things in our community,” he continued, “is understanding what is our financial and economic condition.”

“Without a thorough understanding of our financial health, how is strategic planning possible? How do we improve our roads? How can we maintain our facilities, control water rates, and maintain the quality of life we expect in Benicia? Without fiscal management, making the hard choices that are ahead of us is impossible,” he noted. 

“We now have a qualified Finance Director to create a path forward based on hard data.  Having access to accurate revenue reports, expenditure forecasts and financial statements will provide Council with the tools needed for successful future planning; an area of my expertise.

Efficiency equals results. We must ask ourselves, is there a better way to do things today without kicking it down the road and facing them tomorrow?”

Terry goes on to add, “During my time as Chair of the Arts & Culture Commission, there has been an expansion of public art alliances including the celebrated Neptune’s Daughter Sculpture, Tula Sister City Mural, signal box art and decorated benches and murals throughout the City. In addition, the ACC formed an alliance with the Benicia Unified School District for student art murals and helped sponsor a number of cultural events. These are things I’m very proud to have been involved with.”

Mr. Scott retired in 2013 from Hasbro, Inc. in Rhode Island, as Senior Vice President, Global Head of Creative Services where he managed a global group of more than 700 employees with a total annual operating budget of $1.7 billion. Prior to Hasbro, he operated Scott Advertising, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio. Scott Advertising was named by Advertising Age as one of the top 100 boutique agencies in the United States. 

Terry has been a business consultant to several national and international clients. He’s written papers for the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Economic Development Administration on such topics as, ‘The Future of Museums’ and ‘The Impact of the Silver Tsunami and the Millennial Migration’. Terry Scott also serves on several national boards including Oakland’s ‘International Toy Museum in Development’. 

“In 2020, I ran for City Council and lost by 126 votes. I believed then, and still believe now, that my message to the community was strong then and even stronger for this run in 2022. As your city council member, I will listen to concerns and examine issues from a fair and pragmatic point of view. Voters can expect practicality and transparency in my decision making process. I’m asking for the most precious item you have in our democracy—your vote.” 

Married for 47 years to wife Randi, a forensic archeologist and member of the Incident Management Team for Solano County Search and Rescue.  They have three sons, one granddaughter.

He earned a B.S. Degree from Kent State University and completed the Executives Studies program at Dartmouth College–Tuck School of Business.

For more information, visit terryscottforbenicia2022.org

Carrie Rehak: On Being More Fully Alive with Kari Birdseye

Heartbreaking times, in need of wholeness and healing

By Carrie Rehak, Benicia resident, June 1, 2022

Carrie Rehak, Benicia CA

Locally and globally, we are living in deeply troubling and heartbreaking times, so in need of wholeness and healing. As the late U.S. Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and educator Toni Morrison reminds us, externalizing what is inside can also be a way to be in service of the world. She writes: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” Among many other values, the arts can help to open us to wonder and awe, to imagine what is not yet, to make us more ourselves, as individuals and as a community. They can help us be more human and more humane. Hence, as a local artist I am deeply grateful for the generous and courageous service of City Council candidate Kari Birdseye. Birdseye is running again for Benicia City Council after the Valero Energy Corp. and their allies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence our city’s election when Birdseye ran in 2018, as chronicled by KQED and other reputable media outlets.

Perhaps you recall the push polls, designed to spread false information about a candidate: “Did you know that Candidate Birdseye wants to shut down the refinery? Did you know that Birdseye is bad for Benicia, bad for business?” Or how IP addresses in the City of Benicia were fed false online advertisements, making the same claim with unflattering pictures of Birdseye. Such ads even ran on the Benicia High School library computers, where Birdseye’s own children first viewed them. In addition to the smear campaign, the Valero PAC spent big money on mailers promoting their endorsed candidates, Largaespada and Strawbridge. We also may recall that, two years later, the PAC unsuccessfully spent $250,000 trying to oppose the election of Mayor Young. Once again, the refinery is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars, over six times what a local candidate is permitted to spend, into its “Working Families for a Strong Benicia” PAC.

Kari Birdseye, candidate for Benicia City Council

Like the prophets and visionaries, who throughout time have realigned us with our moral arc, Birdseye speaks truth to power. She will hold polluting industry in Benicia accountable and not negotiate in a back room at the community’s expense. She will not have to explain why Valero, who just made record profits off the rising price of gasoline, is spending so much money once again to try to buy City Council seats. She will not take corporate money.

What Birdseye will do is fight for the health and safety of every Benician.

Birdseye will run a clean campaign as she envisions a future for Benicia, for us and for generations to come that, in addition to economic growth and the diversification of our tax base, will also help to ensure access to such necessities as clean air and clean water. As a community, we must hold the Valero PAC accountable, which includes reporting to the City and on social media any strange polling calls that make untrue claims about any candidate as well as reading the fine print on any campaign information we receive in the mail or online. If it is paid for by “Working Families for a Strong Benicia,” it is paid for by big oil executives in Texas or the powerful building trade unions in Sacramento.

While many of us are familiar with Birdseye’s contributions to Benicia through her service in such roles as Chair of Benicia Planning Commission (since 2017), I personally resonate with Birdseye’s qualities and qualifications as a patron of the arts. More importantly, she values the role that beauty, creativity, truth-telling, and meaning-making play in our day-to-day lives, including the aesthetic of Benicia’s historic downtown. Music is also one of the arts that Birdseye supports. Not only is she married to a professional musician but she also attends many live music events, often in support of local musicians and music venues. In other words, Birdseye understands that we are not only here to survive but to thrive. So it is in hope that I support Kari Birdeye as a City Council candidate: that as a community we may respond to current challenges constructively and creatively, and that together we may be more connected, more vibrant, more engaged, and more whole — that is, more fully alive.

Carrie Rehak, Benicia Resident

Kari Birdseye For Benicia City Council 2022
https://karibirdseyeforbenicia.com

Seeno in Benicia – here we go again…

Warning and good advice by architect of Benicia’s General Plan, former mayor Elizabeth Patterson

EL PAT’S FORUM

by ELIZABETH PATTERSON
Benicia, California

May 26, 2022

Tail wagging the dog – a Benicia story

Many moons ago – before the red moon and blue moon – city leaders began the planning process for developing Sky Valley (1990s). Imagine suburban development like what is happening on Columbus Parkway along Lake Herman Road. More streets, water lines for more water and more traffic with more carbon emissions.

The first tail wagging.  Sky Valley planning process was the  tail wagging the dog. Why? Because the then General Plan was old and did not anticipate that kind of growth. The city council decision makers balked at paying for a general plan update. A group of organized citizens proposed to the council that the council establish a task force to determine wither the General Plan should be updated. The task force with a consultant was approved, and reported to the city council the need for an update.  Council adopted a resolution establishing a commission which was charged with leading the community discussion. The Council resolution included substantial city funds for the commission and future consultants including an economic assessment.

Take note that there are details to this story which I have provided in earlier postings such as a citizen collecting signatures in opposition to Sky Valley development and a vote by council to not move forward. This was after the respected city manager at the time initiated a specific plan process. The public was treated like most of these processes — being fed information in meetings and not being part of the ownership of the decision. Indeed one of the finest consultants in California known for her public participation process quit because of this flawed process. But I digress.

What a community-led process is. The General Plan update process was led by the General Plan Oversight Committee (GPOC – pronounced gee pock). There were panels of experts on property rights, geologic issues, affordable housing, open space and conservation and economics. By consensus – not brute power – GPOC found common ground in a shared vision for Benicia. And that shared and adopted vision is our current General Plan.

But that dog’s tail is wagging again. And this story follows a red moon. [This has nothing to do with the story but it does add color].

The second tail wagging. Coincidentally at the May 17th council meetings  two tails were on the agenda. Let me explain: as a result of the community led GPOC, the consensus was that in keeping with the vision for Benicia as a small town, smart growth and sustainable development, an urban growth boundary line (UGBL) would be established along Lake Herman Road excluding urban development requiring municipal services. This is another story I’ve written about and to keep this posting shorter I will just say that because of council wavering on the UGBL, citizens ran an initiative in 2003 to establish the UGBL by a vote that cannot be undone by Council. That initiative must be renewed after twenty years. The council voted to place the renewal of that initiative on the ballot this coming November.

Seeno Again. And at this same May 17 council meeting – coincidentally – council approved a planning process for what is called the Seeno property, establishing a “community-led” process to recommend a “vision” for the Seeno property. The property owner goes by another name now WCHB. But it is Seeno. So who is Seeno and where is the property?

Google Seeno and you will find stories of blatant destruction of wetlands and millions of fines paid – the price of doing business. You will find law suits against communities such as Brentwood for denying one of their projects. You will find in the 1980s about how Seeno built a commercial building in Concord that exceeded the Concord Airport safe aviation height. You will find articles about how the federal government and over 20 agencies “raided” the corporate offices in Concord. It had something to do with politics in Nevada and death threats on both sides. Seeno. They even filed a lawsuit against the City of Benicia for its planning efforts for creating walkable and bikable streets in the Industrial Park. They were not successful. And that family-owned business has owned over 530 acres here in Benicia west of East 2nd and along Lake Herman Road for over 35 years.

The current General Plan is the vision for Benicia. To change that vision requires a public process and an amendment . . .  and CEQA. The overarching goal of the General Plan is sustainable development. There are a multitude of goals and policies about land use, walkability, water, traffic and economic goals and policies. All of these are the guiding principles for development. It’s the constitution for land use. It’s the law.

At the May meeting Council adopted resolutions and approved consultants to determine a “vision” for the Seeno property. The “community-led” process is similar to the failed process in the Sky Valley experience. The planning consultant will meet with the council subcommittee of two (Young and Macenski) and then meet with the “community-led” public meeting.

Community-led process. So what is the community-led process? Three or so public meetings where you can show up and listen and comment. No formal commission. No stakeholder process. No ownership. Will this meeting process review the General Plan especially for the overarching goal of sustainability and more specific considerations of topography, view sheds, and other quality of life and city policies?

The scope of work for the two consultants – planner and economist – make no mention that the General Plan is the first step for considering the use of the Seeno property. Opportunities and constraints are fundamental planning approaches. I wrote a white paper on this very topic in anticipation of development of the Seeno site. The General Plan goals and policies are where one starts for “opportunities and constraints”. If the current planning process anticipates changing the land use, start with the existing framework. By the way, in the 1990s the Benicia Industrial Park Association conducted a robust campaign against housing/mixed use for the whole area including Seeno.

Best planning tool is not being used. Secondly and for a technical reason, a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is not going to be done. The technical reason reminds me of the expression of “do what you want and ask for forgiveness later”. Why? Because CEQA is the best planning tool we have in California.  CEQA is intended to inform government decision makers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage. It asks nearly all the questions one would want to ask about development. Think about it. Would we have built an asphalt plant near residential development if CEQA had existed? When will the carbon footprint be assessed? What are the potential off-setting strategies for the carbon footprint?

Water. Water supply. The cost of water treatment. When will these issues be addressed and what will be recommended and how much will it cost?

Not doing a CEQA-like process means that is less likely a proposed development will avoid impacts. What is more commonly done is mitigation for impacts. Meaning instead of avoiding potential water supply issues, CEQA could address with rain water capture, industrial above the ground cisterns. Avoiding storm water pollution and flooding would be designed up front in the potential future project feasibility. But waiting until an impact is formally identified, the typical mitigation would be water supply and storm water treatment. Such mitigation approach is expensive and not sustainable.

Carbon Footprint. How will there be an assessment for avoiding adding to our carbon footprint? Better yet, will there be a benefit of reducing our carbon footprint? Or are we going along in willful ignorance? Without some kind of CEQA assessment the answer is disturbing.

Economics. Speaking of economics, the second consultant is the economist. And the consultant is the same firm that did the 1999 General Plan economic study and EIR assessment. Their scope of work has nothing in it to assess development for consistency with the General Plan goal of sustainability. Nor does it lay out a decision making process for life cycle cost analysis. This means the real cost of maintenance and operations for roads, water lines, water supply, waste water treatment, and other municipal services. For instance, residential development property taxes don’t keep up with the cost of things and therefore some municipal services such as roads are not maintained as good as they should be. Or there may be a need for higher sales tax to cover these. Or… there could be other strategies so the city does not dig its financial hole deeper with added cost of residential development or any development.

What Kind of Retail Matters. The economic scope of work will assess retail. Retail that provides services within commercial and light industrial development (the current general plan designation) is sustainable and should reduce driving because these services are within walking distance. But. Large scale retail – including a movie complex or chain retail – will wreck downtown. Just look around and see: Pleasanton, Fairfield, Vallejo. Where is the analysis for this effect?

We as a city have had the best planning processes in the past as described earlier for GPOC. We had internationally regarded planners conduct meetings, seminars and charrettes. We had a nationally recognized economist detail what cities need to think about when doing development. At one time we were leaders in reducing our carbon footprint. Best of all we have a specific plan for the Seeno site based on the opportunities and constraints of the land and policies and a graphic supporting the specific plan.  This was the product of a citizen-led effort.  Have we learned from our past efforts?

Oh, and did I mention that Seeno is paying for this work?

My recommendations are for the council to

  • Establish a formal task force perhaps along the lines of the Waterfront Park process (done by the same firm that the current planning consultant worked for). This would be a community-led process.
  • Ask how can we add value to what we have and avoid failed business as usual development.
  • Adopt a CEQA approach that is not an actual legal CEQA but uses the tools and approaches for assessment of development choices.
  • Ensure by council resolution that any agreement for potential future specific plan includes a development agreement.
  • Adopt a resolution affirming the General Plan goal for sustainable development and no net increase in our carbon footprint. Climate crises is real. Business as usual is unforgivable. I expect nothing less from our council.

    Elizabeth Patterson, Benicia Mayor 2007 – 2020
    Elizabeth Patterson After three terms as Mayor of Benicia CA, Elizabeth retired from Benicia’s city council in 2020. She is vice-chair of the Delta National Heritage Area Advisory Committee; serves on the North Bay Watershed Association representing Solano County Water Agency; is policy chair for AAUW; is a lecturer for a grant funded semester course at Sonoma State on land use planning and management and water.  She loves to walk and hike with Alex, her 18 month-old puppy.

Kari Birdseye to announce 2022 run for Benicia City Council – Rally this Sunday!

Kari Birdseye Campaign Kickoff Rally
This Sunday May 22, 2 pm, Benicia City Park

Festive Gathering at the Gazebo to Announce Run for Benicia City Council

Benicia Planning Commission chairperson Kari Birdseye will run for City Council in November’s election, and strong support for our friend is already building.

Benicia enthusiasts have organized a Kickoff Rally around the Gazebo in City Park for this Sunday, May 22 starting at 2pm.  The Rally will feature music, banners, a short but impressive lineup of speakers and opportunities to volunteer and donate.  It will be a great time to mingle with like-minded friends.

More information and volunteer possibilities can be found at karibirdseyeforbenicia.com.

Many BenIndy readers will be turning out for Kari and offering to help organize a strong campaign.  You are invited to join in this Sunday, 2-4pm at the Gazebo.  See you there!

Kari Birdseye For Benicia City Council 2022
https://karibirdseyeforbenicia.com