Category Archives: Benicia First Street

Benicia Historical Society Seeks Public Input on First St. Height Limits at March 5 City Council Meeting

[Note from BenIndy: The comment the BenIndy received from the person who forwarded this Benicia Historical Society message was, “Our historic protections are unraveling right before our eyes. Are we the next American Canyon?” If you would like to participate in the March 5 Benicia City Council Meeting either to register your opposition or support to increasing the height limit in our Historic Downtown to four stories to allow for hotel development, instructions for accessing that meeting are available at the end of this post. The BenIndy is not affiliated with the Benicia Historical Society and they did not ask us to share their email communication to their supporters; we were forwarded the message by a follower of these developments and we share it to alert our community so they can participate in the public process. Emphases in this message were added by BenIndy.]

The Benicia Planning Commission is considering amending the development standards in the Town Core Zone in the Downtown Mixed Use Master Plan (DMUMP) to allow a height of up to four stories (50 feet) with a use permit. The Planning Commission did not adopt the proposed amendment and recommended that the City Council direct staff to conduct public outreach on this important issue. | message.

Message from Benicia Historical Society:

On February 7, 2024 the Benicia Herald printed an Op-Ed from the Benicia Historical Society on the proposed building height increase in Downtown Benicia. The Benicia Planning Commission on February 8, 2024 considered amending the development standards in the Town Core Zone in the Downtown Mixed Use Master Plan (DMUMP) to allow a height of up to four stories (50 feet) with a use permit. The Planning Commission did not adopt the proposed amendment and recommended that the City Council direct staff to conduct public outreach on this important issue.

We would like to thank the dozens of people who attended the meeting in person and Zoom and spoke passionately on this issue. Your attendance and comments, along with the comments of the Historical Society made a difference in the outcome of the proposed height increase. We would also like to thank the Planning Commissioners for listening to the public and the concerns that were raised, and their thoughtful deliberation of the issue. It was a testament to public participation.

If you attended any of the Q&A meetings on the city’s financial challenges, you would have heard that increasing the height limit in our Historic Downtown to four stories would allow for hotel development.  At the Q&A session on February 27, at the Southampton Fire Station, Mayor Young reiterated that a four story hotel with a roof top bar was proposed for the corner of First and East D St. (the Avant Garden site). He further stated that additional hotels could be built on First Street similar to the hotel boom in American Canyon along Highway 29.

What hasn’t been discussed or presented is that the increase in the height limit to four stories (from 2.5 and 3 for housing opportunity sites) would apply to all buildings and vacant parcels in the Town Core Zone. Once approved, the development standards in the Town Core Zone to allow for four stories (50 feet) with a use permit will cause property values to rise and place economic pressure to redevelop, increasing the potential for demolition of existing buildings including historic buildings. It would also allow for four story buildings adjacent to residential homes on the side streets.

The Historical Society is concerned that the character and historic fabric of our Historic Downtown will unravel as development occurs with higher building heights. Our history is the city’s richest asset; it sets us apart from other Solano County cities, and downtown entices visitors to its small scale and walkability. Visit California, which markets California in partnership with the state’s travel industry, states this about Benicia. “As one of the oldest cities in California—and the third city to have served as the state’s capital, from 1853–54—Benicia is filled with vintage architecture and historic landmarks that date back to the Gold Rush, the Wild West, and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.” Our historic downtown matters and is our best marketing tool. If First Street is lined with multiple four story buildings overwhelming historic structures and disrupting the continuity of our small scale walkable downtown, who will be staying in the hotels?

On Tuesday, March 5, the Benicia City Council will hold a public hearing to adopt the resolution amending the height limit of the Town Core in the DMUMP allowing for four story (50 ft.) buildings on every parcel along First Street south of K Street. The staff report on this item mentions the Planning Commission recommendation to conduct further public outreach, but fails to propose any action on the recommendation.

We are all aware at this point of the financial issues of the city. We are aware that change will occur, as it always has, but what we need is thoughtful consideration of how change is allowed in our downtown which still reflects much of our history left by earlier generations. We are in favor of compatible development that follows existing zoning and complies with the Downtown Historic Conservation Plan. We need to value the historic integrity of downtown and be assured that our ability to market and attract visitors to our stores and restaurants will not be diminished. This can only happen with additional public involvement.


Board of Directors
Benicia Historical Society

Accessing the March 5, 2024 Benicia City Council Meeting

The Benicia City Council Agenda Packet for March 5 is your first and best resource for accessing this meeting because it contains the best and most recent instructions. However, here is a quick guide for participating in person, by Zoom, or through written comment. The following was cribbed from that packet and adjusted slightly to accommodate the format used here.

How to Participate in the Meeting:

1) Attend in person at Council Chambers
2) Cable T.V. Broadcast – Check with your cable provider for your local government broadcast channel.
3) Livestream online at
4) Zoom Meeting (link below)

The public may view and participate with a public comment (via computer or phone) link:

  • If prompted for a password, enter 449303.
  • 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.
  • To dial in with phone, view the Benicia City Council full agenda packet for March 5 here and follow instructions.

How to Submit Written Public Comments for this City Council meeting:

Besides appearing in person or by Zoom and offering public comments, members of the public may provide written public comment to the City Clerk by email at 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.

For inspiration for a written comment, check out what other Benicia residents have sent regarding the controversial DMUMP amendment.

Benicia named to top 5 in contest – YOU CAN VOTE for Benicia to win $500,000 in downtown business fixups


City of Benicia
Click for Benicia PR page
250 East L Street
Benicia, California 94510

Contact:  Teri Davena
City of Benicia, Economic Development Specialist
(707) 746-4202

Benicia Named to Top 5 in Competition for Season 5 of The Small Business Revolution

Benicia, CA (January 14, 2020) — The City of Benicia learned early Tuesday that Benicia has been selected as one of the “Top 5 Towns” in the competition to be the featured town in season 5 of the hit Hulu series The Small Business Revolution, an original series by Deluxe, hosted by Amanda Brinkman and Ty Pennington.

Each season the Deluxe team invests $500,000 to revitalize selected main street small businesses through makeover and marketing assistance while filming the process for the series.

According to Deluxe, thousands of towns are nominated each year. The list is narrowed to the top 20, then to the top 10. The Deluxe team makes site visits to the top 10 towns, assessing their needs and opportunities. They were in Benicia on December 4th and 5th visiting First Street businesses. After site visits, the team narrows the list to the top five for public voting, which will determine the winner.

Public voting opened on Tuesday, January 14th and continues for one week through Tuesday, January 21st online at  Voters may vote one time per day, per device. 

“I am excited for our town and the chance for so many viewers to see what we get to experience each day,” said Mario Giuliani, Economic Development Manager. “Our small business owners have helped create a renaissance for us on First Street, now it is our turn to help them with a “Revolution”! I encourage everyone to vote every day for Benicia.”

Benicia is the only California town in the running. Other towns in the top five are Fredonia, NY; Livingston, MT; Spearfish, SD; and The Dalles, OR.

The series is available for viewing online and on Hulu and Prime.