Category Archives: Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson

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.

Clarification: Solano County COVID-19 curve rising? Or flattening?

By Roger Straw, April 9, 2020

I’m confused.

The Solano County Health department reports out daily Mon-Fri with an excellent accounting of COVID-19 updates.  Here’s a screenshot of their most recent report:

In my daily coverage, I’ve highlighted the daily increase in Total Confirmed Cases (112 above).  I’ve also paid a lot of attention to the dramatic rise in the yellow curve shown in the graph at bottom, center, “Cumulative number of cases on the date reported to Solano Public Health”.

My daily observation has been, “Our coronavirus curve is on a steep uphill climb!  Everyone stay home and be safe!

Here’s the problem: Yesterday our Benicia City Manager, Lorie Tinfow, echoed the Solano County Public Health Officer, Dr. Bela Matyas, beginning her otherwise excellent press release with these words: “As we see the curve of new COVID-19 cases begin to flatten,…”

Stop.  What?  The curve is flattening?  I have been critical of our County Health department, but I trust our Benicia City Manager.  What does she know that I don’t know?

I wrote to Ms. Tinfow pointing out the apparent contradiction, and copied my email to Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, another public official whom I trust.  The Mayor was quick to reply, writing, “I think they might be referring to “active” cases.  The number of cases is increasing for the most part because of delayed test results (up to 12 days).  We have 35 active cases and the hospitalization and ICU rates are not increasing rapidly.  Overall, there is a less than 4% increase in active [cases], hospitalization and ICU.  So the message, I think, is sheltering at home is working and don’t blow its by mingling for Easter and Passover.”

This MIGHT make sense.  I wanted to see for myself, so I created the following chart.  You will notice the red columns track the DAILY CHANGES.There are indeed differences in the daily change rates shown in the columns above.  While total confirmed cases and new cases have been increasing, the change in the daily number of active cases has remained relatively stable.  Similarly, the change in hospitalizations doesn’t vary much from day to day.

So… to clarify, I guess…  Solano County is continuing to see daily increases in the disease among us, but it may not be rising as fast as the little yellow line in the graph would suggest.

The data is still pretty young.  That is, the sample in my chart above only covers a period of just over 2 weeks.  If the experts say the curve is flattening here in Solano County, well, ok.

There are two extremely important take-aways, though:

    1. We have a long way to go – social distancing is incredibly important.  Stay at home!
    2. When any community hits the curve’s apex, it’s far from over.  As one tv doctor put it, the day after the apex is still the second worst day of the crisis!  Be prepared for more cases, and possibly more deaths here in Solano County.

Benicia City Council to consider Climate Emergency Resolution Tues, Feb 4, 4pm

Quarterly Study Session to discuss five requests made by Council members

You may want to attend!  Benicia’s City Council will meet with staff and the public on Wednesday, to consider five action items requested previously, in context of overall Council priorities.  See complete list with links more below.

Of particular interest will be item 4, Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution.  Mayor Patterson submitted this request last summer, with a requested Initial Council Meeting date of July 16, 2019.  The “Emergency” request was not brought for Council’s First Step consideration until September 3, 2019.  At that meeting, after hearing support from residents Constance Beutel, Marilyn Bardet, Gretchen Burgess, Steve Goetz, Pat Toth-Smith and Kathy Kerridge, Council discussed the request and recommended that it be brought forward for further study “at a future workshop”.  (see item 14.B in the 9/3/19 minutes).  So that next step is this Tuesday.

(Editor’s note: I am not sure, but my review of the Staff Report and Rules of Procedure seem to suggest that Tuesday’s Study Workshop is NOT to be considered the Second Step in our Two-Step procedure.  A Council member’s request for DISCUSSION and action on a City “policy matter” requires two yes votes at Council.)

For more on Climate Emergency, including background on Benicia’s consideration, see Benicia Independent on climate emergency.   Also see Mayor Patterson’s highly informative E-Alert from September 4, 2019.


From the 1/4/2020 agenda on the City website:

10.A – QUARTERLY POLICY ISSUES STUDY SESSION (City Manager) 

The City Council has agreed to discuss various “Two-Step” requests made by individual members of the City Council at the Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session described in the City Council Rules of Procedure (Attachment 1).

To assist with Council deliberations, staff has included an updated copy of the Council’s priorities for the current fiscal year as summarized in the Work Plan 2019-20 (Attachment 2).

Five topics have been approved by the Council for further discussion and are presented in this report (Attachments 3-7); they follow:

    1. Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use;
    2. Adoption of a Climate Emergency Resolution;
    3. Preparation of an Advisory Measure related to Cannabis Dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot;
    4. Installation of Rainbow Crosswalks; and
    5. A request to Repurpose and Update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee. 

Recommendation: Review the two-step process and the updated Work Plan 2019-20, and then discuss each of the five topics described (Attachments 3-7) and provide direction to staff. 

Staff Report – Quarterly Policy Issues Study Session 

  1. City Council Rules of Procedure 
  2. Updated Council Work Plan 2019-20 
  3. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on Penalties for Excessive Residential Water Use 
  4. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson on adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution 
  5. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell on drafting an advisory measure related to cannabis dispensaries for the November 2020 ballot 
  6. Two-Step Request from Councilmember Campbell to install Rainbow Crosswalks 
  7. Two-Step Request from Mayor Patterson to repurpose and update the Traffic, Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Committee

Benicia City Council workshop on Air Monitoring – Tues. Oct 22, 6pm

An E-Alert from Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, October 20, 2019

The city council is conducting a workshop on air monitors this Tuesday at 6:00 at the Benicia Library, Dona Benicia Room.  The agenda and staff report are on line.

The staff report states:

AIR MONITORING STUDY SESSION (Fire Chief)

Air monitoring in the City of Benicia has greatly improved over the last year. During this study session, Fire Department staff will provide the City Council with an overview of current and future air monitoring programs in the City. Additionally, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) staff will be available to present the City Council with an update on the district’s efforts to improve air monitoring programs in the region, Valero Refinery staff will be available to address concerns with their air monitoring programs, and Benicia Community Air Monitoring Program (BCAMP) members will be available to provide an update on efforts to increase air monitoring in the community. The objective of the study session is to provide a comprehensive overview of air monitoring programs and provide a clear picture of efforts to continue to improve the quality of air monitoring in the community.

There will be opportunity to ask questions.  You may be interested to learn the status of the fence line monitors required by the Air District as well as part of an agreement between the City of Benicia and Valero for measuring many constituents of air pollution including toxic air contaminants such as benzene and H2S.

In the staff report are letters from the Air District extending the compliance date for the monitors for H2S.  The Air District is providing more time to establish these air monitors for H2S because of problems with existing market monitors for open path monitors.  Fixed measurements may be considered.

Here is the power point  presentation for June 25, 2019.  The actual agreement does seem to be posted on the city’s website.  Click here for the agreement from my files.