Category Archives: Benicia City Council

Benicia Climate Emergency Resolution – video, draft and final versions

By Roger Straw, May 26, 2020

Benicia City Councilmembers discussed, amended and passed a Climate Emergency Resolution on May 19, 2020.

Below you will find the 29-minute video of Council deliberations leading to passage of the resolution.  Changes in the proposed resolution include:

    • Mayor Patterson re-inserted a strong paragraph on Benicia’s Climate Action Plan, goals and past efforts: “WHEREAS, as outlined in the Benicia Climate Action Plan it is the goal of the City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create green jobs, and prepare for the impacts of climate change on public health, infrastructure, the economy, ecosystems, and public spaces in our community, and Benicia has repeatedly upheld this mission through resolutions to protect the environment and divest from extractive industries…”
    • Vice Mayor Strawbridge and Councilmember Largaespada added several amendments.  One promotes Benicia business interests and the interests of other Solano County cities,  and two others soften the aspirational language: “actively reduce” rather than “end” Citywide greenhouse gas emissions; and transition to electric vehicles “where economically feasible.”
    • Mayor Patterson and Councilmember Young expressed mild discomfort over some of the amendments, but all suggestions were accepted and the resolution passed unanimously.

Benicia City Council unanimously adopts Climate Emergency Resolution

Benicia Herald, by Galen Kusic, Editor, May 24, 2020 (No link, only available in the print edition.)
Climate Emergency - Greenpeace International
Climate Emergency – Greenpeace International

At the Sept. 3, 2019 Council meeting the City Council agreed to discuss a request from Mayor Elizabeth Patterson considering the adoption of a Climate Emergency Resolution.  The request was discussed again on Feb. 4 at a Special City Council meeting, where a subcommittee was formed consisting of Councilmembers Tom Campbell and Steve Young.

[BENINDY EDITOR’S NOTE: See the proposed resolution here, noting that this does not contain Council’s amendments.  I have requested the amended resolution and will post it when it is released by the City Clerk.  See also the accompanying Staff Report here.]

“The world’s changed since I first brought this forward,” said Patterson.  “Who would have guessed…it is actually very interesting for us to contemplate this kind of situation with a pandemic which has been described as one of the consequences of climate warming.”

Cities are adopting these resolutions to end city-wide greenhouse gas emissions.  The resolution highlights the need to combat climate change, including that Benicia is specifically vulnerable to sea-level rise, storm surge and coastal erosion, which are all enhanced by extreme weather events that cause increased flooding.

The resolution declares that an existential climate emergency threatens Benicia, the region, state, nation, civilization, humanity and the natural world.  The resolution calls for a city-wide mobilization effort to reverse global warming and appropriate financial and regulatory assistance from Solano County, state and federal authorities to end city-wide greenhouse gas emissions while safely drawing down carbon from the atmosphere quickly.

“I think we saw this as more of a global aspirational document,” said Young.  “The only thing we wanted to change in it was to localize it to some degree.”

The subcommittee added a clause at the end for the city to promote a more sustainable future, like eventually moving to an all-electric fleet.

Vice Mayor Christina Strawbridge and Councilmember Lionel Largaespada both asked for small amendments to the resolution, including not making undue burdens on businesses to attain reduction of greenhouse gas, while implementing policies that are economically feasible.

The resolution is designed to protect the community’s health and safety while also protecting and enhancing the environment.

A resident’s public comment stated that the council should not be focusing on climate change during a pandemic, but Patterson shot back that the pandemic is exactly why immediate action needs to be taken toward combating the climate emergency.

“We now from the early science of COVID-19 that one of the principle challenges for recovery and surviving an infection, particularly in older people, is the air quality,” she said.  “We know there’s a direct link to our goal to reduce carbon which contributes to air quality.”

The council unanimously voted for the resolution.

Benicia staff releases dire financial forecast in response to COVID-19 pandemic

By Roger Straw, May 1, 2020

“Stark and immediate”shortfalls expected

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a serious impact on our City’s finances.  The Benicia City Council will discuss a staff report with financial forecasts at its May 5 videoconferencing Council meeting.

From the staff report’s introduction:  “This financial forecast provides an initial update to the General Fund revenues and expenses due to the sudden impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local revenues. At this time, the projected shortfall for the General Fund for 2019-20 is approximately $2.5 million and for 2020-21 the projected shortfall is approximately $8.5 million.”

The staff report and detailed financial forecasts are included in the May 5 agenda packet (see links below).


14.B – GENERAL FUND FINANCIAL FORECAST IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC (Finance Director)

Staff has reviewed the City’s General Fund budget and created an initial financial forecast in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its estimated impacts on the City’s local economy. The forecast focuses primarily on the City’s revenues and incorporates information sourced from economic experts as well as financial trend analysis based on the City’s economic history.

Due to the quick-changing nature of information and action from both the State and City in response to COVID-19, staff prepared this forecast to present a potential scenario based on the best available information available at the time it was prepared. The purpose of the forecast is to review and discuss the potential budgetary impacts, with the intent to adjust the budget when staff returns with a mid-cycle budget update in June 2020.

There is no action or budget adjustment associated with this report.

Recommendation:
Move to accept the General Fund Financial Forecast for Fiscal Years 2019-2021 as shown in Attachment 1.

Staff Report -General Fund Financial Forecast in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

1. General Fund Financial Forecast

Benicia City Council meeting to accommodate public comment via Zoom

City Council Agenda for April 21 offers several ways to make comments

From the April 21 Benicia City Council Agenda:

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Advisory Notice

The Solano County Public Health Department has advised that non-essential gatherings should be canceled, postponed, or done remotely. Additional information is available at solanocounty.com/depts/ph/ncov.asp.

This meeting is necessary so that the City can continue to conduct its business and is considered an essential gathering. Consistent with Executive Orders No. 25-20 and No. 29-20 from the Executive Department of the State of California, the meeting will not be physically open to the public. Members of the City Council and staff will participate in this meeting via videoconferencing as permitted under Executive Orders No. 25-20 and No. 29-20.

As always, the public may submit public comments in advance and may view the meeting from home. Below is information on how to watch the meeting via cable and/or live stream and how to send in public comments that will be part of the public record.

How to Watch the Meeting:
1) Cable T.V. Broadcast on Channel 27
2) Livestream online at www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas.

How to Submit Public Comments for this videoconferencing meeting:

Members of the public may provide public comments to the City Clerk by email at lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us. Any comment submitted to the City Clerk should indicate what item of the agenda the comment relates to. Comments received by 3:00 pm will be electronically forwarded to the City Council and posted on the City’s website. Comments received after 3:00 pm, but before the start time of the meeting will be electronically forwarded to the City Council, but will not be posted on the City’s website. Comments received after the start time of the meeting, but prior to the close of the public comment period for an item will be read into the record, with a maximum allowance of 5 minutes per individual comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion. All comments should be limited to a maximum of 750 words, which corresponds to approximately 5 minutes of speaking time. If a comment is received after the agenda item is heard, but before the close of the meeting, the comment will still be included as a part of the record of the meeting but will not be read into the record.

Additionally, the public may provide live public comment via Zoom on a particular agenda item during the public comment period for that item by calling into the number listed below and entering the Meeting ID number and password. After dialing in, you will automatically be placed on hold until the moderator releases your call to provide public comment. Your comments will be limited to 5 minutes. After you have made your comments the host will mute your audio.

Call in Number to Provide Public Comment via Zoom:
1-669-900-9128
Meeting ID: 931 5291 7520
Password: 347344

Any member of the public who needs accommodations should email City Clerk Lisa Wolfe at lwolfe@ci.benicia.ca.us, who will use her best efforts to provide as much accessibility as possible while also maintaining public safety.