All posts by BenIndy

How Will Solano’s Rules for Developing Near Travis AFB Impact CA Forever?

[Note from BenIndy: The Daily Republic reported this morning that the minor updates to the Travis Air Force Base’s Land Use Compatibility Plan, which will be on the agenda at Thursday’s commission meeting, may not impact the CA Forever development. That said, this conversation has brought to our attention how land use around TAFB is regulated, which in turn raised some serious questions about how much of the proposed new community will be in built in restricted zones where schools, hospitals, nursing homes, care centers, and more are prohibited. Read more below.]

Commission to review land-use plan changes for Travis, Rio Vista

Daily Republic, by Todd R. Hansen, July 9, 2024

FAIRFIELD — The Solano Airport Land Use Commission on Thursday will review proposed mapping changes to the Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan that opponents of the East Solano Plan had hoped could impact the development.

But that does not appear to be the case.

“We don’t know for sure if there are any impacts on the East Solano Plan since all we have is what is in their initiative and these proposed amendments did not study the East Solano Plan. The analysis of the ad hoc committee was focused on current FAA guidance and updates received from TAFB on their Assault Landing Training Overlay Zone and Rio Vista Airport,” James Besek, director of the county Department of Resource Management said in an email response to the Daily Republic.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chamber on the first floor of the administration building, 675 Texas St., in Fairfield.

“For Thursday’s meeting, staff is providing a presentation of the proposed amendments developed by the (Airport Land Use Commission) ad hoc committee for both the Travis Air Force Base and Rio Vista (metropolitan Airport) land use and compatibility plans to ensure that they reflect the most current information related to operations at TAFB and Rio Vista airport and FAA guidance. The amendments are only a proposal by the ad hoc committee and nothing will change in this meeting,” Besek stated.

He added, “There is no recommendation to change or expand the boundaries of any Travis land-use zone, including Zone C, in this report or in the recommendations of the ad hoc committee.”

Members of Solano Together, opponents of the East Solano Plan, thought the new map showed Zone C expanding into the development area with its lower housing density allowances.

“The proposed amendments to the (Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan) include the addition of the Low Altitude Maneuvering Zone; guidance regarding wildlife hazards; clarification regarding the inclusion of second or accessory dwelling units when calculating residential densities; and other minor amendments,” the commission document states.

The compatibility plan changes were put together by a committee of three commissioners – Vice Chairman Stephen Vancil, Don Ryan and Jeanine McAnaney, all former Air Force pilots who were stationed at Travis Air Force Base. McAnaney is still a commercial airline pilot.

The compatibility plan is designed to protect Travis missions, and changes to that plan occur when the needs of mission specifics or training change.

This is an information meeting with the proposed amendments going to the full commission for the first time. No action is anticipated.


Questions and Comments from BenIndy:

As the Daily Republic reports above, the updates proposed in the draft TAFB land-use compatibility plan, do not place any additional restrictions on CA Forever’s proposed development.

However,  the adopted LUCP map from 2015 (Fig. 1, page 13) and the 2024 draft map (Fig. 1, page 8) may show significant pre-existing and continuing restrictions on part of the land California Forever intends to develop for its new city.

Specifically – albeit speculatively, as disclaimed below – an earnest attempt at overlaying the LUCP map and a map of Flannery Associates’ current holdings, with a dashed outline of the projected new community’s boundaries, may be showing us that about half of the new community could be in an area designated  by the 2015 and 2024 LUCP maps as Zone C.

Zone C is shown to have have more frequent and foreseeable air traffic.

Schools, nursing homes, day care centers, libraries, and hospitals are prohibited in Zone C.

Additionally, it stands to reason that if schools and nursing homes are prohibited in Zone C, presumably due to noise and air pollution, perhaps parks and similar services for children and residents over 55 shouldn’t be built in Zone C either.

So, will schools and hospitals, and perhaps parks as well, only be built in the eastern half of CA Forever’s planned community?

If so, what are the implications for equitable access, emergency support and services, and more?

Will wealthier residents pay more to live closer to essential services and nonessential amenities in this walkable city?

OK, now let’s talk about this messy map.

The graphic below is a gif that shows two publicly available maps overlaid: the big map with the purple in the middle is the draft 2024 LUCP map (which is substantively the same as the 2014 adopted map; see links above if you’d like to check). The small map was produced by Solano County to show Flannery’s current holdings, with purchased parcels shown as yellow squares.

The dashed-line shape in the center of the yellow-squared parcel map shows the location of California Forever’s projected new city.

Now let’s adjust the transparency to see if we can get a sense of the overlap.

Disclaimer: This gif was cobbled together using publicly available maps and data available in the 2024 and 2015 LUCPs, and maps of the Flannery holdings developed by Solano County. Please be aware the nice folks at BenIndy are amateurs when it comes to graphical design. We used Canva to overlay the maps, doing our best to align key landmarks, and adjusted the transparency of one map to give an impression of the impacted areas. This image is for exploratory and speculative purposes only, is possibly inaccurate, and should not be shared without also sharing this disclaimer. via GIPHY.

It sure looks like the western half the city will be in Zone C, doesn’t it? And if Zone C can’t have schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., etc. … we have questions.

To be very candid, though, the above and below represent speculations. And let’s be honest: if these speculations about inequitable access are actually realized, CA Forever’s community will not be substantively worse than any other city already out there (in this regard, anyway). It would be unfair to claim otherwise.

However, it’s important to consider the above when voters are being served the glossy marketing CA Forever has made in support of its East Solano Plan. Most especially, any claims regarding high-density neighborhoods and equitable access to essential resources should be viewed with all of this in mind.

All this shared, please pay attention to the many disclaimers and caveats listed in this meandering, exploratory, and speculative commentary. This post contains questions and comments, not reportable facts. These maps may be inaccurate. Until a sanctioned map overlay is produced by the county, the map BenIndy created is purely speculative, and must not be reproduced or shared without also sharing that fact.

If we are provided with a sanctioned map, or information that contradicts the above, we will of course share it. You can write us at benindy @ mngl.ca. Just, please be nice about it. We know this is a heated discussion, but we did our best to disclaim and disclose all the various ifs-ums-and-maybes.

The Commission meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7pm., in the Solano County Administration Center, Board Chambers, First Floor, 675 Texas Street, Fairfield, CA 94533. The Thursday, July 11 meeting appears to be open to the public, with an open public comment period.

If you have questions about how the East Solano Plan will impact TAFB, or how the LUCP as drafted will impact California Forever’s ambitions for the area, consider attending this meeting to learn more.
As the commissioners stated, no action will be taken at this meeting. But they may be able to answer questions if you have them.

MORE . . .

>> Get involved… Solano Together is another local organization opposing California Forever. Between now and November, you can get a yard sign from Solano Together and send Solano Together a much needed donation.

>> Read more… BenIndy coverage of the billionaire land grab, California Forever / East Solano Plan.

Mayor Steve Young Announces for Re-Election, Promises Four More Years of Proven Leadership

Click the image to visit www.reelectyoungforbenicia.com.

From the Campaign to Re-Elect Mayor Steve Young, received July 10, 2024

Benicia, CA – Mayor Steve Young today announced his campaign for re-election with a pledge to continue the work he started in his first term. “This is a critical election,” Young said. “We are not just deciding on a city leader for the next four years; we are at a crucial juncture that will define the future of Benicia.”

Young, who was elected to his first term as mayor in 2020, has led the City through some of its toughest times. He led the City Council and City government staff in crafting a strong and responsible response to the global pandemic. He has worked to build a solid financial foundation for Benicia, overseeing the rezoning of land to encourage more housing while promoting the City’s vibrant downtown, art community and business park. He also championed the simplification of City processes to make it easier for residents and business to access City services, including by limiting the scope of the Housing Preservation Review Commission.

“I have made transparency and communication the core mission of my service to Benicia residents,” Mayor Young said. “I am the first Mayor to regularly monitor, engage and communicate with constituents on social media, and I consistently respond to direct and public questions.”

“But the job is not done,” Young continued. “More challenges remain as we continue to shape the vision of Benicia’s identity, aspiring to create a community that embodies resilience, prosperity and a balance between smart progress, historic preservation and continued sustainability.”

 

Young was raised in Burbank, California, where he graduated from Burbank High School in 1969. He earned a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley in 1973 and went on to earn his MA in Urban Policy and Administration from San Francisco State University in 1975.

He spent his entire career focusing on the challenges cities face. For 28 years, he worked with cities in California and Virginia, overseeing various projects in the fields of community development, re-development, affordable housing, neighborhood preservation and economic development. In 1999, he was named Community Development Director of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA).

 After retiring from SHRA, Young and his wife Marty moved to Costa Rico for four years to allow their daughter to have the experience of attending high school internationally. Following her graduation, the family returned to the US and moved to Benicia in 2012 where he quickly put his career experience to use.

Click the image to be redirected to the 2022 LA Times column featuring Mayor Steve Young.

He was appointed to Benicia’s Planning Commission in 2013, just as the Crude by Rail proposal began working its way through the City approval process. With his expertise, he was able to guide the Commission through the complicated process that helped lead to the Planning Commission’s unanimous rejection of a project that could have put Benicia residents’ safety and health at risk. The Planning Commission decision was ultimately upheld by the City Council.

Young was elected to the Benicia City Council in November 2016 in his first attempt at elected office. He was elected Mayor in November of 2020.

 “I love our City, its beauty, strong culture of arts and history, its friendly small town sense of community,” he said. “But to continue to survive, we must grow, and to grow successfully while keeping what makes Benicia special is the challenge before us all. I am asking Benicians to re-elect me so I can continue the work that we’ve started in shaping Benicia’s future.”

To learn more about Mayor Young’s re-election campaign, donate, or volunteer, visit his website at www.reelectyoungforbenicia.com.

Vice Mayor Scott on Restructuring Benicia’s Boards and Commissions: ‘The Arts and Economic Development Can Thrive Together’

Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott

By Benicia Vice Mayor Terry Scott, received July 8, 2024

Note: A number of these points have been made on the record, noted during the 6/25 City Council discussion on this subject.

I am opposed to the proposed consolidation of the Arts and Culture Commission (ACC), Human Services Board (HSB), and the Parks, Recreation, and Cemetery Commissions into a single entity.

This plan, while well-intentioned in its aim to reduce monthly staff support, fails to recognize the unique and vital contributions each commission makes to our community.

The HSB’s mission as a granting organization is to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us. Its specialized focus on social services cannot be overstated, as it ensures that those in need and receive the targeted support they require.

The ACC, with its dual mission of creating and supporting public art initiatives and creating and supporting cultural events, enriches our community’s cultural landscape.

From Shakespeare in the Park to supporting local arts organizations like the Benicia Ballet and the Old Town Theatre, the ACC’s role is multifaceted and requires dedicated oversight.

The Voena choir rehearsing at First Baptist church in Benicia, Calif., in 2012.| Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle.

In addition, ACC also manages on-going grantor programs for Arts Benicia, VOENA,  Benicia Performing Arts Foundation, Makers Space and Benicia Literary Arts .

Combining these groups, along with Parks, Rec and Cemeteries  into one large committee dilutes their individual effectiveness and undermines their ability to serve the distinct needs of our community.

A newly comprised seven-member committee cannot possibly manage the diverse needs, budgets, and intricacies of the grantor process that these individual commissions oversee.

Furthermore, the suggestion does not directly address the needs of our aging population. As we have seen in the Parks Master plan and witnessed on our streets, Benicia is aging.

To meet the challenges this demographic shift presents, we need a dedicated City Commission on Aging, not a mere mention in a consolidated group’s mission.

If staff reduction is the goal, let us find ways to support and enhance the work of these commissions, which play an irreplaceable role in the fabric of our community. 

But if we cannot continue to maintain independent stand alone commissions due to the need to reduce staff involvement, we must look at new opportunities for staff time reduction.

 I offer the following thoughts on how to potentially accomplish the task by matching Benicia commissions to need based on similar visions.

“Terry Scott Supports the Arts.” | Uncredited image.

Combining the Arts and Culture Commission with Economic Development Board  can create a more cohesive strategy for driving both cultural and economic growth. This approach aligns with the concept of creative placemaking where arts and culture are integrated into community development to enhance the quality or and economic prosperity. 

For example, as ACC Chair Neema Hekmat has noted, the National Endowment for the Arts has highlighted how  arts can be a powerful tool for community transformation and economic development. 

Similarly, merging the Human Services Board with the Family Resource Center could streamline services and provide a more robust support system for disadvantaged groups.  Our Family Resource Center serves as a hub for various support services that is a  match with HSB’s mission of addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.

This integration can lead to more efficient use of resources and better outcomes for the community and possibly avoid redundant staffing needs. 

Combining HSB with FRC, and then ACC with EDB, could help  keep these functions separate but integrated into two existing commissions, which seems practical and focused on leveraging the strengths of each area. It ensures that arts and economic development can thrive together, while human services and family resources support can provide a comprehensive safety net.

How do you envision the implementation of these changes? Are there specific steps or strategies you think would be crucial for a smooth transition? 

Merging the Arts and Culture Commission with the Economic Development Board could potentially offer several benefits:

  1. Streamlined Processes: Combining the commissions could lead to more efficient operations by reducing redundancy and improving coordination between the financial impact of arts, culture, and city long term initiatives and economic development.
  2. Enhanced Grant Opportunities: A unified commission might have a stronger position when applying for grants, as it could present a more comprehensive approach to community development that includes both economic and cultural growth.
  3. Business Orientation: The merger could foster a closer relationship between the arts community and local businesses, potentially leading to more opportunities for economic partnerships and sponsorships. The ACC has shown its financial impact on Benicia.
  4. Integration: Combining of two economic focused commission engines could  support more effective marketing and calendar tools and all designed to create a destination for visitors

Similar to merging the ACC and EDB, there are many benefits to merging the Human Services Board with the Family Resource Center:

  1. Integrated Services: A merger could lead to a more holistic approach to service delivery ensuring that individuals and families receive coordinated support tailored to their comprehensive needs.
  2. Efficiency: By pooling resources and expertise, the combined entity could operate more efficiently, reducing duplication of efforts and streamlining administrative processes.
  3. Enhanced Support: The merger could strengthen the support network for marginalized groupps by providing a single point of access to a wider range of services.
  4. Community Outreach: A unified organization might have a greater capacity for outreach and advocacy, raising awareness of available services and potentially reaching a broader segment of the community need.
  5. Big Vision: Could CAC, HSB and FRC be combined into one unit? It’s important to note that the unique staffing, overall needs and contributions of creating a safety net for our most needy and disadvantaged residents might be possible by combining the Human Services Board, Family Resource Center, and Benicia Housing Authority.

There is still time to get involved:

Attend a special commission meeting tonight, on Monday, July 8, 2024, at 5:30pm, where the commission will be ideating concepts for a new structure. More information can be found here: https://benicia.granicus.com/AgendaViewer.php?view_id=1&event_id=2106

Reminder! Show Up at 5:30pm to Help Our Arts & Culture Commission

Vice Mayor Terry Scott served as the Chair of the Benicia Arts and Culture Commission before his election to office in 2022. Thanks to Scott and the commission’s Public Art Committee, traffic light boxes, benches, and more got colorful makeovers in service to street beautification and boosting Benicia’s identity as a cultural arts center. | Adrienne Rockwell / Benicia Magazine.

Message from Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission Chair Neema Hekmat, received July 7, 2024:

I would like to invite Benicia residents to attend a special Arts & Culture meeting this Monday, July 8, where we will be ideating on a new structure to more efficiently and effectively support arts and culture in Benicia.

You are all aware that ACC is at risk of being dissolved with the budget pressures.  There is a new structure on the table that would consolidate three commissions into one; however, there have been significant concerns raised around loss of focus on arts and culture in this new structure and less interest to invest resources into it.  (For more on this, click here.)
The Benicia Arts and Culture Commission, in partnership with Vallejo Shakespeare, presented  William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Benicia Marina Pavilion in 2022. The performance was free and open to the public. | Benicia Magazine.
We want to put something on the table that addresses the budget needs without creating more issues.  If anything, I am hoping that we can find a structure that negates existing challenges and barriers and allows us to serve the community more effectively than before.  So this challenge may be an opportunity for a true WIN-WIN.
The commission can’t do this alone and we need everyone who cares about arts and culture to step up and be actively involved.  City council may make a decision soon and we need your support to prevent a decision with major repercussions.
This is the time to be LOUD.
Participating in this session is one key forum where you can make a difference.   Please forward this message to anyone you think would like to be involved.  More info on the session is available at this link.
Hope to see you tonight!

There are two ways that you can get involved:

  1. Attend a special commission meeting this Monday, July 8th, 2024, at 5:30pm, where we will be ideating concepts for a new structure. More information can be found here: https://benicia.granicus.com/AgendaViewer.php?view_id=1&event_id=2106
  2. If you cannot attend this meeting but want to express your idea/opinion/thoughts, please submit a public comment in writing by emailing it to Helaine Bowles at hbowles@ci.benicia.ca.us.

If you want your comment to be considered during the session, please submit your comment by noon PST on July 8.

Artist Josie Grant’s ‘Jungle’ piano features a rainforest lush with plants and vibrantly populated by colorful animals. This and other pieces of public art were sponsored by Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission, which faces a reduction in financial support from the City. | Photo by Will Stockton.