Category Archives: Benicia City Council

Steve Young: Benicia City Council to consider re-writing cannabis rules on May 7

[Editor: Attend City Council on May 7 if at all possible.  This is an issue of fairness and could affect Benicia’s economic viability and reputation.  If you can’t attend, check out How to write to Council and staff.  – R.S.]

By Steve Young, Benicia City Council member
Steve Young, Benicia City Council

On May 7, the City Council will consider a proposal by Councilman Largaespada to expand the buffer zones around cannabis dispensaries. The proposed changes would, if adopted, add buffer zones around any day care center (or places where kids congregate), park, or any residential zone.  If adopted by the Council, the practical effect would be to eliminate virtually all retail locations in the City.

Cannabis issues have been on the ballot twice recently. In 2016, Benicians voted 63% in favor of Prop. 64 which legalized personal use of cannabis by adults. In 2018, Benicians voted 68% in favor of letting the Council impose excise taxes on cannabis businesses (which we did last December). The current rules, adopted by the previous Council after more than 18 hearings and dozens of hours of testimony, limited cannabis dispensaries to just a few commercial areas in the City. The Council eliminated First Street and all of downtown, as well as all of the Southhampton shopping center. We also limited the number of dispensaries to just two.

When we finally opened up the application process last fall, we had 9 applicants for these two possible permits. Applicants were required to pay the City $20,000 each for processing their application, including for a Public Safety License to be issued by the Police Department after significant vetting of the applicants. In addition, the applicants were required to show some form of site control. This required them to rent or lease, or obtain an option to lease,  commercial space at significant costs while waiting for the City to finally recommend which applicants were recommended to move forward to the Planning Commission to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). (Some applicants have reported absorbing over $100,000 in costs each.)

In my opinion, regardless of how you feel about cannabis, it is fundamentally unfair to treat these businesses in this manner.  They have followed all the rules set forth by the City in August,  paid substantial fees to the City and even more to rent vacant space, and have waited over 9 months for the City to act on their applications.  It is simply not fair or equitable, at this late date,  to have the City change the rules in the middle of the game.

If you are interested in this topic, please attend the Council meeting on May 7 or let the Council know about your opinions.

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    Benicia City Council to consider updated Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) on April 16

    April 10, 2019

    Council receives report and recommendation from staff, will discuss and vote on Tues April 16

    The agenda for the Benicia City Council meeting of Tuesday, April 16 was distributed to the public today.

    A very important issue will be under consideration: the much-needed update to the City’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), complete with an emergency evacuation plan and plans for mass care and shelter.

    The staff report gives a very brief overview and details the process by which the update was developed.  At the end of the report are these very important links to the heart of the EOP:

    1. Resolution [this is just the wheras’s and therefores…]
    2. EOP Volume I – Basic Plan – https://tinyurl.com/y5o85k8b
    3. EOP Volume II – Emergency Operations Center Guidance – https://tinyurl.com/y4fhyk3l
    4. Annexes
    a. Dam Failure – https://tinyurl.com/yyuauq2e
    b. Evacuation – https://tinyurl.com/yxfg3gwv
    c. Mass Care & Shelter – https://tinyurl.com/y69axyqt
    d. Public Information – https://tinyurl.com/yxqyuayd

    All of these documents are searchable.  You might find it interesting, for instance, to search each of them on the word “refinery” or “smoke.”

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      Time to update Benicia’s Climate Action Plan

      By Roger Straw, January 23, 2019

      It’s time to update the City of Benicia’s 10-year-old Climate Action plan.  This is especially important in 2019 in consideration of:

      • hugely consequential recent international and U.S. scientific findings on climate change (see links below), and
      • new California laws and target dates for meeting climate and pollution goals (links below).

      Updating the Climate Action Plan could be initiated by City staff and the Community Sustainability Commission.  The Commission could consider this as part of its work plan for the next year (2019).

      Barriers to this could be budget issues, possible lack of council support and staff capacity.  The way the Commission overcame the lack of staff 10 years ago was through the working groups that provided invaluable insight, work products and so forth.  From 2012-2014, we also had a staff Climate Action Coordinator, who, if restored, could provide invaluable service for this effort.

      RESOURCES

      Benicia’s CAP:

      On the City of Benicia’s Sustainability page you can find the 10-year-old 2009 Climate Action Plan.  (Only sections are available there – no link to the whole document.)  Here is my link for viewing or downloading the entire Benicia Climate Action Plan document from the Institute for Local Government: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sFDmNNEJK-9bX3r0vdH3NvzxPHHP9W8Z  (The ILG link is here.)

      Note in addition, Benicia has a 2016 Climate Change Adaptation Plan.  If I understand correctly, this is one strategy as a subset of our overall Climate Action Plan.

      Links on recent scientific findings:

      Links on California strategies and target dates:

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