Category Archives: Benicia Mayor Steve Young

‘We Could Not Wait for the County’: Benicia Passes Its Own Mask Mandate

KQED News: Benicia Breaks with Solano County on Masks

Steve Young, mayor of the City of Benicia, says it was important that the city’s mask mandate was unanimous. (Ericka Cruz Guevarra/KQED)

KQED News, by Ericka Cruz Guevarra. Devin Katayama, and Alan Montecillo, Aug 30, 2021

In early August, eight Bay Area counties reinstated mask mandates in indoor public spaces due to the spread of the Delta variant. Solano County was the only one that didn’t.

Last week, the city of Benicia broke with the county by approving — by a unanimous city council vote — its own indoor mask mandate.

Today, we speak with the city’s mayor about this decision, and what it says about differences within Solano County.

Guest: Steve Young, Mayor of Benicia

TRANSCRIPT…

Ericka Cruz Guevarra: [00:00:00] I’m Erica Cruz Guevarra, and you’re listening to The Bay, local news to keep you rooted.  Mask requirements are pretty common here in the Bay Area, except where I’m at in Solano County, but last week the city of Benicia decided to break away with the rest of the county by passing its own indoor mascot mandate.

Steve Young: [00:00:23] If people had a different attitude about this thing, it would be done. We wouldn’t be having this conversation. We wouldn’t have people continuing to die all across the country. And it’s making it so partisan and political is not in anybody’s interest today.

[…continued…]

ABC7 TV News: Benicia Council passes mask mandate

Benicia passes indoor mask mandate despite Solano Co. health officer’s recommendation

ABC7 News, August 25, 2021

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) — Anyone aged four and up are now required to wear a mask indoors at public buildings in Benicia. That includes grocery stores, commercial office buildings and restaurants.

City council members approved the mandate yesterday.

Benicia is taking a harder stance than the rest of Solano County — the only Bay Area county without a mask mandate.

Earlier this month, ABC7 News spoke with the Solano County Health Officer who explained why they initially chose not to implement indoor masking.

“The data does not support the need for such a mandate. This disease in our county is very clearly spreading during/through social events, people who are going to parties, barbecues, picnics, campouts,” said Dr. Bela Matyas.

The mandate goes into effect immediately and will be reviewed in six weeks.

See also:

KTVU TV News: Benicia breaks with Solano County, adopts mask mandate

Benicia only city in Solano County with mask mandate

KTVU News, By Debora Villalon, August 25, 2021


BENICIA, Calif. – Benicia has decided to become the only city in Solano County with a mask mandate.

The unanimous vote came Tuesday evening, after four hours of council discussion and public comment.

“It represents community consensus on this issue,” Benicia Mayor Steve Young told KTVU after the meeting. “In the end we all agreed that this was a necessary thing to do.”

He estimates more than 100 people wrote and called in, the overwhelming majority supporting the idea.

The city of 28,000 has an 81 percent vaccination rate but is taking the action due to rising concern about COVID caseloads and the delta variant.

“We have a lot of people who come here from other parts of the county where vaccination is closer to 50 percent,” explained Young. “We’re a beautiful waterfront town to visit so we have to protect our business owners, we can’t assume we’re in a bubble.”

Benicia now aligns with eight other Bay Area counties that require facial coverings in public places, regardless of vaccination status.

The mandate takes effect immediately, and applies to everyone age 4 and older.

The city will review the mandate, along with evolving COVID data, every six weeks.

Benicia’s views did not sway Solano County’s top health official, who participated in the meeting and continues to reject a county-wide order.

“Benicia may feel an association with the Bay Area, but I can assure you Dixon does not, and neither does Vacaville,” declared Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas.

Matyas characterized mask orders as confrontational in neighboring communities.

“Places where there is a much stronger political dislike of mask-wearing and altercations are far more common.”

As for the benefits, Matyas insists casual contact in places like stores and restaurants aren’t fueling the spread.

He blames close social contact, primarily among families.

“The next biggest risk is among people who go to a party and share drinks or play beer bong,” said Matyas, “and close friends who transmit because they hug and kiss, so it’s a spectrum”.

On the streets of Benicia, most people say they would rather err on the side of caution than slide backward.

“We’re a small town and we do have a lot of visitors so it’s okay for us to be independent and make that decision,” said resident Bobbie White.

Some merchants already require masks on their own.

“My customers know the deal before they come in,” said Natasha Curtis, owner of Zeppelin Comics.

Curtis wants to protect children who come in to shop, many too young to be vaccinated.

“Being able to mirror more of the Bay Area in our city policies is a benefit to us,” she added.

Several physicians also voiced support during the public comment portion of the meeting.

“Why aren’t we doing everything we can to mitigate the effect of this virus?” demanded Dr. Bonnie Hamilton.

“It’s an easy thing to do, and a lot easier than a ventilator.”

A doctor from a Fairfield hospital also called in.

“It’s under siege, about 33 percent of our patients have COVID, and these are really, really, really sick people, with almost no beds to put them in,” said Dr. James Bronk of the North Bay Medical Center.

Benicia’s mayor said the city felt it had to mandate masks, realizing Solano County was not going to.

“I don’t anticipate problems, I think people are accepting,” said Young, “and even if you go east, look at Yolo County and Sacramento County, they both have mask mandates too.”

See also:

ALERT! Please attend City Council meeting tonight, Tues. Aug. 24, 6PM – Indoors Masking

Attend tonight’s 6PM meeting if you can!

By Roger Straw, August 24, 2021

Your comments and support for reinstating an indoors mask mandate for Benicia is desperately needed as we protect ourselves and others from the surging and highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Our County health department is failing to protect public health and safety, so we have to take action locally.  Thank goodness Mayor Young and Vice-Mayor Campbell have taken this initiative.  The measure MUST pass tonight!

Here’s the agenda item, followed by instructions for attending the virtual meeting.

AGENDA ITEM 16.A – RESOLUTION REQUIRING THE WEARING OF FACE COVERINGS IN BENICIA (City Attorney)

At the August 17, 2021 City Council meeting, the City Council directed City staff to prepare a resolution requiring face coverings be worn in certain circumstances indoors given the rise of COVID-19 cases relating to the Delta variant. If adopted, the resolution would be effective immediately and require face coverings in certain locations as detailed in the resolution.

Recommendation:
Discuss and consider adopting a resolution requiring the mandatory use of face coverings in certain circumstances. Staff has attached two draft resolutions for consideration. The first resolution (Attachment 1) is based on Resolution No. 20-78, adopted by the Council on June 16, 2020. The second resolution is based on the health orders issued by the seven neighboring Bay Area health officers (Attachment 2). A majority vote is required to adopt any resolution.

Staff Report – Mandate Face Coverings

Attachment 1. DRAFT Resolution – Face Covering Mandate Based on Resolution No. 20-78

Attachment 2. DRAFT Resolution – Face Covering Mandate Based on Seven Bay Area Counties Health Orders

3. Two-Step Request – Mayor Young & Vice Mayor Campbell


HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN BENICIA COUNCIL 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 to which item of the agenda the comment relates. Specific information follows:

– Comments received by 2:00 pm on the day of the meeting will be electronically forwarded to the City Council and posted on the City’s website.
– Comments received after 2:00 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, and will not be read into the record.
– 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.

Additionally, the public may view and provide public comment via Zoom (via computer or phone) link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83935851585?pwd=OXFSd1BPeHYxOUxOSXVqM0RFME1hQT09

• If prompted for a password, enter 405755.
• Use participant option to “raise hand” during the public comment period for the item you wish to speak on. Please note, your electronic device must have microphone capability. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.

OR: Dial in with phone:
Before the start of the item you wish to comment on, call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try the next one.
1 669 900 9128
1 346 248 7799
1 253 215 8782
1 646 558 8656
1 301 715 8592
1 312 626 6799

• Enter the meeting ID number: 839 3585 1585 *please note this is an updated ID number*.
• Enter password: 405755
• When prompted for a Participant ID, press #.
• Press *9 on your phone to “raise your hand” when the Mayor calls for public comment during the item you wish to speak on. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.