Category Archives: City of Benicia

Important policies that cities can adopt NOW to help fight climate change

[Editor: Here’s a challenge for cities large and small.  Check out the climate change policies proposed by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.  Especially interesting: the link to How Building Performance Standards Are Addressing Climate Change.  – R.S.] 
Traffic during rush hour along I-5 in Seattle. CREDIT: KUOW PHOTO/MEGAN FARMER

Seattle mayor proposes new climate measures to tackle pollution from traffic and buildings

KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, By John Ryan, November 2, 2021

At the global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced policies she says will take a big bite out of Seattle’s climate-harming emissions from buildings and cars.

“We are really working toward urgent action on climate change,” Durkan said.

She proposes requiring large buildings to clean up their carbon acts, starting in five years.

Her executive order seeks to make existing commercial and multifamily buildings convert to clean electric power and eliminate the use of fossil fuels no later than 2050. Initial emission reductions would begin by 2026.

Seattle has mandated climate-friendliness in new construction but to date has done much less to tackle the bigger problem: the impacts of existing buildings.

The proposed policy would cut building-based emissions in the city 39% by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050, according to Durkan.

caption: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks from the global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2021.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks from the global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2021. CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM NOV. 1 CITY OF SEATTLE PRESS CONFERENCE

Monday’s executive order directs city staff to engage with community groups and draft legislation for performance standards for large buildings by next July, six months after Durkan’s term has ended. Then the Seattle City Council would have its say.

Of course, public process is often where proposals go to die in Seattle, like one Durkan touted in 2018 for downtown tolling, which she dropped in 2020.

Other proposals announced by Durkan Monday include:

  • Creation of an urban pedestrian-only zone by summer 2022.
  • A $1 million pilot to replace diesel trucks with electric ones in the heavily polluted Duwamish Valley. City officials say the $1 million pilot is expected to subsidize the purchase of 15-20 electric trucks.
  • A ban on fossil fuel use in city-owned buildings by 2035.
  • A new design of the Burke-Gilman Trail’s 1.4-mile “missing link,” which has been stalled by opposition from some Ballard businesses for decades.
  • Free transit for Seattle middle schoolers. High schoolers got free transit in 2020. “We know that kids, when they ride transit, become transit users for the rest of their life,” Durkan said.

“This provides safe, reliable, and affordable trips for families,” Alex Hudson with the Transportation Choice Coalition said at the mayor’s press conference. “Transportation is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as well as the air pollutants that affect public health and increased rates of asthma and other public health emergencies.”

“The city of Seattle is leading America in all of our efforts,” Durkan said, echoing a claim Seattle mayors have made for nearly 20 years.

Following similar bans in Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and other California cities in 2019 and 2020, Seattle banned most natural gas use in new construction of large buildings in February 2021.

State law prohibits Washington cities from banning fossil fuel use or imposing tighter energy codes on residential buildings less than four stories tall.

“Three cities (Washington D.C., New York, and St. Louis) and Washington state have already passed legislation creating building performance standards,” trade publication FacilitiesNet.com reports.

Seattle’s Green New Deal law requires the city to aim for zero climate pollution by 2030, not 2050, as Durkan’s policies do.

“I thank [the Seattle City] Council for what they passed in terms of some of the targets they want to meet, but targets mean nothing unless we have a cohesive plan,” Durkan said.

“Zero emissions by 2030 is the proper goal, and what the City committed to in 2019,” climate activist Jess Wallach with 350 Seattle said in an email.

“Actually leading the nation would look like doing more than taking four years to make an underwhelming promise with no real targets or accountability,” Wallach said.

Durkan’s proposed 2022 city budget devotes much less money to curbing fossil fuels than activists have called for. It includes $1.7 million to convert 125 low-income households from oil heat to electric heat pumps. The “solidarity budget” pushed by progressive activist groups calls for $85 million annually over three years, enough to convert all oil-heated low-income homes in the city to clean energy.

Both candidates for Seattle mayor, Lorena González and Bruce Harrell, one of whom will replace Durkan in January, have signed a climate pledge to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 58% by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050.

Benicia’s close calls during the historic October 24 flooding

Mayor Young: City Staff worked through the night to save Benicia from even more drastic flood impacts

Nextdoor and Facebook, by Benicia Mayor Steve Young, October 25, 2021
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

The historic storm yesterday saw the City staff make a number of critical decisions that saved the possible failure of an aging lift station in the Industrial Park. Had that station failed, significant amounts of raw sewage would have been released into the Strait and the City would likely have faced very large fines. Besides the quick and decisive action by the Public Works Utility staff, a huge thank you to Ponder Environmental for loaning the City some large tanks to help out when most needed.

In addition, the huge amount of water flowing into Lake Herman threatened to reach the spillway in an uncontrolled release, which could have caused flooding into the Industrial Park and elsewhere. The decision was made to fully open the release valve and divert the water into Sulphur Springs creek. By doing so, we were able to release water as fast as it was coming in.

We all owe our gratitude to the City workers, including Fire and Police, who worked through the night to protect our community.

City of Benicia This Week: COVID Vaccine Clinics offering 1st, 2nd shots & boosters

COVID Mass Vaccine Clinics

Solano County Public Health announces mass vaccination clinics now operating Wednesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Solano County Fairgrounds. Clinics are expected to be operational for a total of 8 weeks, until mid-December, with closures the week of November 3 – 6 and again November 24 – 27 for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

To make an appointment for the vaccination clinic, eligible residents can sign up to for their Pfizer booster or their first/second dose with the Pfizer vaccine online at https://vax.phast-vax-ca.org/en-US/. Details on Moderna booster vaccines will be available soon.

Those requiring registration assistance may call 800.672.0150.

Click the image or HERE for details.

MORE COVID ASSISTANCE: CITY OF BENICIA THIS WEEK NEWSLETTER

City of Benicia now requires vaccination (or weekly tests & masking) of all City staff

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: City of Benicia This Week

Message from the City Manager, Erik Upson
October 11, 2021

Hello Everyone,

City of Benicia Personnel Policy #44 will take effect today. This policy requires vaccination of City staff. Those not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly and wear a mask while indoors at City facilities as well as following all applicable State, County and Local guidelines regarding the wearing of masks.

We did not step into this lightly, but felt it was needed to help protect the safety of our staff and our community. I know some will feel this policy does not go far enough. And some will feel it is a governmental overreach. As always, we are trying to do our very best to balance very real public health concerns with the very real concerns about personal freedoms. Bottom line is we want to do what is best for our community and our staff in this difficult and ever-changing pandemic response.

I want to take a moment to thank our labor groups and their representatives as well as Kim Imboden, our Human Resources Manager, and Fire Chief Josh Chadwick for their work on this. From the very beginning our labor representatives took a positive, thoughtful, and collaborative approach to this very delicate issue.

We continue to look for ways to advance the health of our community. We are currently working with the County in hopes that we will be at the forefront of providing booster shots as those become necessary and more widely available. Additionally, it is our hope when the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, we will be able to partner with the County and the School District to help provide those shots at a local clinic. Finally, the Fire Chief is working with the County in hopes of providing drive-through flu clinics here in Benicia later this year.

On a very positive note, I would like to point out that the Benicia Dog Festival will be happening on Sunday, October 17 at the First Street Green. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. This festival has been a long time in the works, and I want to give thanks to the event’s founder Gaul Culley for her patience, thoughtfulness, and, yes, stubbornness, as she worked to make this event happen. Benicia is a very dog-friendly community, and this event will be a fantastic opportunity to get out and connect. Please see their website for more information (https://beniciadogfestival.com/).

Thank you for your interest in the City of Benicia This Week!

Erik Upson
City Manager
CityofBeniciaThisWeek@ci.benicia.ca.us