Category Archives: Seeno

Benicia’s Housing Element has been approved, throwing Seeno’s ‘builders remedy’ threat into question

By BenIndy Contributors, April 12, 2024

The City of Benicia affirmed that it has received notification of its “substantial compliance” with State Housing Element Law as of April 4, 2024, undermining Seeno’s threat to deploy the dreaded “builders remedy” on the town of 28,300.

The proposed Rose Estates project, shared by the City of Benicia in the Facebook post pictured below and on an official City webpage, would transform 527 acres of the former Benicia Business Park into a new community with 1,080 new homes and 250,000 square feet of new commercial space.

First submitted to the City in September 2023, the Rose Estates proposal from Seeno-owned West Coast Home Builders, LLC (hereafter referred to simply as”Seeno”) took an aggressive turn on March 12 when Seeno submitted an updated application under the provisions of the builder’s remedy.

The builder’s remedy is a legal mechanism that allows developers to bypass local planning regulations for housing projects if a city fails to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) targets or pass a state-certified “housing element” that abides by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s allocation requirements.

In its March 12, 2024 application, Seeno claimed that “Per HCD website [sic], the City did not meet its housing allocation […]. Consequently, the City is subject to the most stringent provisions of various housing laws […] [that] greatly limits local control over housing.”

But the April 4 certification letter from the HCD implies that the City of Benicia is now fully compliant with housing laws and has regained full control over its zoning and planning decisions, diminishing any leverage to override local zoning laws that Seeno might have had under the builder’s remedy.

And it’s clear the City wants to be calling the shots moving forward.

Seeno applications still incomplete

Letters issued from Benicia’s Community and Development Department in response to the September 15 and March 12 applications indicated that Seeno failed to complete either application, preventing Benicia from lawfully deeming them submitted.

In particular, the City claimed it was unable to verify who currently owns the Seeno empire and the land in Benicia to be developed due to active litigation stemming from a family dispute over the Seeno construction and development empire.

Click the image to be redirected to the letter on the City’s website.

In his most recent correspondence to Seeno, Benicia Community Development Department Planning Manager Jason Hade affirmed that Seeno’s March application is still deemed incomplete, but provided greater detail regarding additional requirements required to consider it legally complete:

  • Payment of outstanding fees totaling $27,873.40;
  • Amendments to align with Benicia’s General Plan and Zoning requirements;
  • A detailed written statement and supporting maps for the proposed amendments;
  • Clarification of the usage of government funds, which may trigger additional ADA and CBC requirements;
  • Descriptions of previous land use, expected traffic types, delivery schedules, environmental nuisances (e.g., odors, noise), temporary structures, hazardous materials, and all relevant permit requirements;
  • Current and proposed zoning and land use designations;
  • A Master Plan detailing large property developments;
  • Necessary identification and project details like the title block, site address, and legal compliance;
  • Comprehensive plans showing existing conditions, proposed changes, and structural details, including trees, natural features, and utilities;
  • A “more detailed” subdivision map, including legal descriptions, natural features, and existing structures;
  • A detailed topographic survey and grading plans to meet city specifications;
  • Specific plans for grading, including volume estimates and impact analyses;
  • Detailed feasibility studies for water and sewer services, including capacity and compliance with city standards;
  • Utility plans with necessary details for connection points and compliance;
  • A comprehensive environmental impact report (EIR) as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA);
  • A detailed traffic, photometric, and landscaping plan that addresses both aesthetic and functional requirements of the project;
  • Detailed architectural plans including elevations, floor plans, and roof plans;
  • Specific details on landscaping, lighting, parking, and circulation; and
  • A plan for public and safety-related improvements.

Until these items are provided, the City may not process the application as complete.



City of Benicia North Study Area (Seeno property)

For current information from the City of Benicia, check out their North Study Area web page,

Seeno invokes ‘builder’s remedy’ to force Benicia’s hand on major housing project, but the city is pushing back

March 20, 2024

The battle over urban development and housing policy has escalated in Benicia, exposing tensions between developers, local governance, community sentiment, and the state as Sacramento works to increase California’s housing stock.

The proposed Rose Estates project, shared by the City of Benicia in the Facebook post pictured above and an official City webpage, could turn more than 527 acres of the former Benicia Business Park into a new community. With 1,080 new homes, 20 percent of which could be allocated for lower-income families, and 250,000 square feet of new commercial space, the company proposing the development touted it as Benicia’s most “expeditious” path to meeting its housing obligations.

But before the City deemed that application complete, the Seeno-owned West Coast Home Builders, LLC (WCHB; hereafter referred to simply as”Seeno”), raised the stakes on March 12 by submitting an updated application under the provisions of the “builder’s remedy,” drawing scrutiny from Benicia city officials and residents alike.

Seeno in Benicia

The genesis for the proposed development in Benicia’s former business park, also known as the North Study Area, reaches back many years. After City staff and leadership held several “visioning” sessions on the area’s future in 2023, Seeno representatives submitted a preliminary housing application for the space on September 15, 2023.

Since then, talks between Benicia and Seeno appear to have soured, culminating in the developer’s apparent decision to submit its “complete” application on March 12 under the provisions of the builder’s remedy, according to the City of Benicia.

The builder’s remedy is a legal mechanism under state housing law that allows developers to bypass local planning regulations for housing projects if a city fails to meet its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) targets or pass a state-certified “housing element” that abides by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD)’s allocation requirements. In its March 12, application, Seeno claimed that “Per HCD website [sic], the City did not meet its housing allocation […]. Consequently, the City is subject to the most stringent provisions of various housing laws […] [that] greatly limits local control over housing.”

Benicia City Council Member Kari Birdseye addressed Seeno’s assertion that Benicia was vulnerable to the builder’s remedy in the City’s Facebook post’s comments section, writing that “Our Housing Element has been certified and was before [Seeno’s] latest plan was submitted. The City is now evaluating the application and will be keeping our community updated as public hearings and other milestones happen.”

It is unclear why the City is listed as negligent in fulfilling its obligations on the HCD website when City officials state otherwise. (Benicia’s City Attorney did not respond to requests for clarification at publication time; this post will be updated to include comment if/when it is provided.)

But whether or not Benicia is truly vulnerable to the builder’s remedy, opponents of the project insist that Seeno’s invocation of it represents the developer’s cynical intention to abandon its first application, for a project that would have to abide by Benicia’s zoning and planning rules, to advance a nearly identical project, one that could be unencumbered by those rules.

Other issues

The threat of having to face the builder’s remedy wasn’t the only issue the City took with Seeno’s applications. According to letters issued from Benicia’s Community and Development Department , Seeno failed to complete both its September 15 and March 12 applications, preventing Benicia from lawfully deeming them submitted.

Most glaringly, the City claims that it has been unable to verify who currently owns the Seeno empire and the land in Benicia to be developed due to active litigation. A family dispute over the control and leadership of the Seeno construction and development empire is making its way through the court system, and until the matter of who exactly Seeno belongs to is fully resolved, any application submitted by a Seeno company cannot be considered complete. (Albert Jr. and Thomas Seeno asserted principal ownership of the company in Rose Estates applications.)

A list of the application’s other critical omissions included the absence of a site plan with the project’s proposed heights for residences and square footage for commercial buildings, information about “bonus units and any incentives,” and proof that a portion of the property does not qualify as Wetlands, which would be subject to certain environmental protections.

The City’s has so far issued two responses to the September 15 application. The first was a December 13 letter from Jason Hade, Planning Manager for Benicia’s Community Development Department, that noted the omissions but included a a friendly offer for assistance. After a January 9, 2024 meeting where a Seeno representative apparently asserted the application was, despite the noted omissions, actually complete, Hade responded in a February 29 letter that the omissions were a nonstarter.  He also downgraded his offer of support to advise that Seeno could complete its application through the City’s online permit center.

It is currently unclear what additional impacts to the City’s relationship with Seeno may emerge as a result of the developer’s invocation of the builder’s remedy in its March 19 application. Regardless, as the City considers the threat the builder’s remedy poses in terms of allowing Seeno to bypass local zoning, the Rose Estates project has started to appear as less of a miracle solution to Benicia’s housing allocation issues, and more of a threat to the norms, policies and procedures that have, until now, allowed the city to govern development in its own jurisdiction.



City of Benicia North Study Area (Seeno property)

For current information from the City of Benicia, check out their North Study Area web page,

Ashton Lyle: Benicia can balance Big Oil (and our budget)

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: This is a complicated subject for a lot of Benicia residents. If you scroll past Ashton’s editorial, you can see alternative opinions. Reach out to us at if you would like to add your opinion to our growing body of commentary on the topic.]

Opinion: To check Valero’s influence and beat a budget meltdown, Benicia leaders must walk a fine line

Although this is a tremendous oversimplification, Benicia’s fight for its future can feel like a choice between the frying-pan and the fire. | Canva image by N. Christian.

By Ashton Lyle, June 7, 2023

Portrait of Ashton Lyle
Ashton Lyle, BenIndy contributor.

Benicia will not always be a sleepy town on the edge of the Bay. Like Walnut Creek, Vallejo, and other neighboring cities before us, change is on the horizon. Today, I’m considering what would make the town more livable for its current and future residents.

First among the forces impeding a successful future is the city’s long-term budget crisis, as evidenced by a recent debate in the Benicia Herald. The city council approved its last two budgets with a substantial deficit, an obviously unsustainable situation over the long term. Bret Prebula, the Assistant City Manager, believes that the budget can be balanced. However, if the town wants to maintain the standard of services Benicia residents have come to expect, “new tax revenue is a must.” 

Equally concerning to me is the role that Texas-based Valero Energy Corporation continues to play in our politics. Over the past 55 years, the Valero-owned Benicia refinery has been the dominant economic force in the city. Founded in 1968 by Humble Oil before passing to Exxon and Valero, it has grown to become the town’s largest employer. Its revenue is essential to the city’s finances, as property taxes paid by the refinery have allowed Benicia to develop its services that in turn, attract new residents. In 2014, Valero was responsible for 40% of Benicia’s revenue, and while that number has dived to less than 20% today, the economic weight of Valero has inspired support for pro-refinery politicians in city and mayoral elections. In 2022 Valero funded PAC spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on the city council race and printed misleading mailers while its Benicia refinery’s toxic emissions exceeded legal limits for more than 20 years, raising questions about whether vital information was being withheld from residents and regulators. All with relative impunity, a recent $1.2 million fine for recent toxic flares aside (an amount which represented a mere 0.01% of Valero’s profits in 2022.)

Meanwhile, the budget is in need of serious balancing. If Benicia is to throw off the weight of oil town politics, development in either residential or commercial sectors is needed if we wish to maintain our beloved services (such as an independent police force, library, and parks) over the long term. One only has to look at the ongoing rehabilitation of Vallejo’s city finances in the past decade to see the potential of a growing residential tax base. Additionally, if we want to finally free Benicia from reliance on a corporate giant, the town needs a larger slice of the growth from the Bay Area’s professional economy to increase property tax revenue and reduce the city’s dependence on income from Valero. In the age of remote work, accessible housing is essential to competing with local towns and bring knowledge workers to Benicia. If we want to ensure that Benicia’s future is not bound by corporate interests, the long-term answer is embracing new neighbors.

Equitable growth of the town’s housing stock is equally necessary to welcome more of Benicia’s workers to join our community full-time. The employees working in the city’s restaurants, shops, and industrial park have earned the option to settle down in the town they work in, but serious work is needed to ensure this possibility. Even after a recent decline in housing prices, Benicia’s median home is priced at $746,000. This means that, under aggressive calculations, a new resident looking to purchase a home would require no less than $175,000 in annual income. How will the workers who make Benicia and its downtown so special afford to live and work here if we do not build more homes?

These problems, undue industrial influence, a budget crunch, and a lack of affordable housing have a simple, but not easy answer. The housing crisis which extends far beyond Benicia’s borders necessitates new construction in our city. Considering where new housing can be built at scale in Benicia leaves residents with limited options. Due to the restrictions of the democratically decided Urban Growth Boundary, which prevents construction north of Lake Herman Road, there is simply not much remaining developable land within city limits. Unfortunately, the area which provides the greatest opportunity for essential housing will lead the city into a complicated alliance. 

Seeno Developers own a large portion of Benicia’s undeveloped land and is now partnering with the city in a “Community-Led Visioning Process” process which aims to develop a Specific Plan for their land, in effect rezoning the currently undeveloped property from industrial to mixed commercial and residential use. As detailed by former Mayor Elizabeth Patterson this process is a reduced version of the coalition of community and experts who wrote Benicia’s last Master Plan. However, it is worth noting that this is only the first step in a multi-year process that will require approval by the expert-led Planning Commission and publicly elected City Council, with multiple opportunities for public comment which began in November of 2022 and will continue until approval, likely several years from now. This “Community-Led Visioning Process” is the beginning of a public and extremely rigorous process.

The seriousness of the approval process is especially important to note because Seeno is considered by many community members to be a bad actor, both in Benicia and the broader Bay Area. In addition to their record of alleged environmental destruction, associations with organized crime, mortgage fraud, and murder threats, they also have a reputation for taking advantage of communities and local governments. In an ideal world, the city would choose to work with a different developer, and any association with the company necessitates an awareness of the risks they pose.

Unfortunately, Seeno has owned the land that is the subject of the North Study Area for over 35 years, and they do not appear interested in selling. The mortgage is likely paid off meaning Seeno is investing very few resources to maintain ownership, and it’s plausible that the value of the land has grown considerably since its purchase. It’s also worth considering the potential for Seeno to invoke California’s builder’s remedy if the city chooses not to engage in good-faith discussion, as Benicia’s housing element is not yet approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Even if the goal is to remove Seeno from our city, creating a Specific Plan for the land is the most likely path to success, as attaching a Specific Plan to a property can raise its value to potential buyers, especially if it changes the property from industrial to mixed-use. This increase in valuation could drive Seeno to sell portions if not the entirety of the property to other developers, which has occurred in other Bay Area developments.

These conditions place Benicia residents in a particularly difficult position, in effect forcing a choice between desperately needed housing constructed with an undesirable partner, or the continued risk to Benicia’s services and future budget, not to mention the unmitigated economic and political influence of Valero. Given the revelations of recent years, it is clear that Valero has proven to be one of the worst actors in Benicia community life. Proactively implementing a mixed-used Specific Plan for the North Study Area will create the best opportunity for a sustainable and equitable Benicia. By working to develop the North Study Area in a controlled, sustainable manner, we can increase our tax base, make our housing market more accessible to new families, and reduce corporate influence over Benicia’s politics.

This process should be watched carefully by community members and media outlets to ensure City Council and Planning Commission members are held accountable for the results, especially because Seeno is known to be a difficult partner. Equally important is that Seeno needs to be made responsible for covering the cost of expanding the city’s essential services to the area, as they will be rewarded with millions in additional profit due to the zoning change. Benicia residents must take advantage of their ability to participate in the planning process via public comment at community, planning commission, and city council meetings. Any development is an investment in the future of our town, and the process of writing a Specific Plan deserves extensive thought, public debate, and democratic accountability to effectively plan for the growth of Benicia in the next decade. 

Statewide forces, from the affordability crises to the housing element requirement mean that change is coming to Benicia and to some of its undeveloped land. Failing to act proactively puts the city in danger of Valero’s continued influence, fiscal crisis, or a reduction in city services. Let’s make sure our council members come into any Seeno partnership with eyes open, while also allowing for viable growth that will bring new families to Benicia.

Author’s Note: In the spirit of full transparency, I am related to the recently appointed Planning Commissioner for the City of Benicia. That said, the opinions expressed in this piece are fully my own, they were not unduly influenced by our relationship, and should not be taken to represent his or anyone else’s opinion.


City of Benicia North Study Area (Seeno property)

For current information from the City of Benicia, check out their North Study Area web page,

Bad blood: Seeno family feuds over Bay Area real estate empire

[BenIndy contributor Nathalie Christian: Here’s a real gem from the article below: Concord’s negotiations with Seeno were halted not by “term-sheet specifics or the deal point, but rather [by] accusations that were made through editorial comment that were in the local papers.'” There it is, folks – proof that your letters to the editor and other community-facing actions like making a public comment at a city council meeting, public hearing or study can absolutely change outcomes. They sure did in Concord, no? Never underestimate the value of sharing your opinion with your community. Your community is listening. In the next few days I will be sharing other viewpoints on this important topic. Reach out to us at if you would like to share yours. – N.C.]

East Bay kingpin Albert Seeno Jr. and his son have long courted controversy. Now they’re fighting each other for the family business

Albert Seeno Jr. (left) and son Albert III

The Real Deal [Real Estate News], by Pawan Naidu, May 1, 2023

For a family that’s spent the last nine decades building a real estate empire spanning thousands of homes in the East Bay, the Seenos have generally tried to keep their business dealings quiet.

“They don’t take the Donald Trump approach and pat themselves on the back,” said Phil Tagami, CEO of California Capital and Investment Group, which partnered with the Seenos on a failed bid to redevelop a former naval base in the region. “They just go onto the next project.”

But the spotlight they’ve avoided for decades does find them occasionally — and not for the right reasons.

For the past year, 80-year-old patriarch Albert Seeno Jr. has been waging a battle for control of the family business with his son Albert III, who he claims mishandled funds and attempted to muscle him and other relatives out. That is only the latest chapter in the Seenos’ decades-long legal history, which is dotted with allegations ranging from political meddling to threats of outright violence.

The Seenos did not respond to interview requests for this story.

The American dream

The family’s Bay Area story began when Albert Jr.’s grandfather Gaetano Seeno came to the U.S. in the early 1900s, one of thousands of Italian immigrants who became ​​fishermen in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and Suisun Bay.

Gaetano later worked in construction, eventually bringing his son Albert Sr. into the business.

Albert Sr. launched his own construction business in 1938, and at the time of his death in 2000, the company had built more than 30,000 homes, dozens of shopping centers, apartment buildings and offices, mostly in eastern Contra Costa County.

“In [the East Bay’s] Pittsburg, you can drive for miles and everything you see is a Seeno project,” Bob Rossi, a company executive, told SFGate in 2000. “[Albert Sr.] loved Pittsburg and took great pride in what he and his sons accomplished here.”

When Albert Sr. retired in the 1970s, he turned his company over to his sons, Albert Jr. and Thomas, who continue to run it as a family business across five companies: ADSCO, Seecon, West Coast Home Builders, North Village Development and Seecon Built Homes.

In 1997, third-generation exec Albert III followed in his father’s footsteps and started his own branch of the family business: Discovery Builders.

The growth that Albert Jr. led didn’t come without controversy, even though some locals have seen him in a different light.

“He’s almost like the pope with these people in town,” Allen Valentine, former Pittsburg Planning Commissioner, told SF Gate in 2002.

Nevertheless, he has been accused on multiple occasions of having improper relationships with local leaders — including allegations that he helped former Pittsburg Mayor Frank Aiello secure a favorable mortgage to buy a Seeno home, raising questions about whether the loan constituted a prohibited gift to an elected official. In 2004, Aiello agreed to pay $20,000 after failing to disclose gifts he’d received from Albert Jr., including Oakland Raiders tickets and trips to a casino in Reno, according to SFGate.

In 2003, former Pittsburg Councilmember Frank Quesada was sentenced to 300 hours of community service after pleading no contest to conflict-of-interest charges stemming from his votes on Albert Jr.’s projects while he owed the developer $370,000 in personal debt.

At a panel discussion ahead of the 2012 Pittsburg City Council election, voters expressed concern about the family’s outsized influence over the body, noting that the Seenos owned 90 percent of the city’s undeveloped land, according to the Mercury News.

Despite the alleged improprieties, the family has sought to maintain a favorable local reputation — and continue developing new projects. Last month, Discovery Builders scored approval to build 1,500 homes on 341 acres just outside Pittsburg after years of pushback from local officials and environmental groups.

But as Albert III tries to move the business forward, the family’s past keeps coming back to haunt him.

Seeno evil

Other far more serious accusations have been levied against the family. In 2012, the Seenos sued influential Las Vegas lobbyist Harvey Whittemore, accusing him of embezzling millions from a joint real estate venture called Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co.

Whittemore countersued Albert Jr., accusing the father and son of threatening him and his family of failing to repay millions of dollars in alleged debts from a real estate partnership that fell apart in 2011. Whittemore sought $1.8 billion in damages from Albert III and his brother, accusing the Seenos of racketeering, extortion, grand larceny and threats of bodily harm.

No criminal charges were filed, and the lawsuits were settled confidentially in 2013, months before Whittemore was sentenced to two years in prison for illegal campaign contributions to Senator Harry Reid.

“[Whittemore] filed a frivolous, baseless lawsuit that went nowhere and was dropped,” Louis Parsons, president of Seeno-affiliated Discovery Builders, told The Real Deal.

But Whittemore wasn’t the only one to make accusations of intimidation against a member of the Seeno family. In 2017, Ayman Shahid, a high school friend of Albert III and former president of Discovery’s sales arm, alleged that the younger Seeno issued him a “chilling death threat,” according to court documents. The alleged threat had to do with Shahid agreeing to assist the FBI in a probe into alleged mortgage fraud tied to the family business.

“Hey [expletive]. You’re going down! I’m going to kill you!” Shahid accused Seeno III of saying, according to court filings.

The charges were ultimately dismissed due to lack of evidence of a credible threat.

“There is no evidence that Shahid was ever in any actual danger,” federal prosecutor John Hemann wrote to the court. “Though totally and completely inappropriate and potentially retaliatory in nature, it appears that his former boss was venting anger rather than actually threatening death or harm to Shahid.”

The FBI’s investigation into mortgage fraud started in 2010 and ended in 2017, with a federal raid of the Seeno family’s headquarters in Concord. Investigators alleged that Seeno companies misled bank underwriters about the true value of homes, according to an FBI spokesperson. The alleged misconduct took place between 2006 and 2008 when Discovery took steps to avoid losing its position in the market, according to court documents.

The filings revealed that Discovery incentived new homebuyers by funding their down payments and subsidizing their mortgage payments. The company’s employees and others worked to ensure these incentives were not disclosed on mortgage loan applications.

While no member of the Seeno family was charged, Shahid pleaded guilty to bank fraud and Discovery Sales was fined $8 million and ordered to pay $3 million in restitution. Albert III denied any involvement.

“The U.S. attorney’s office confirmed after years of investigation and interviewing hundreds of people that there was no evidence that Albert Seeno III or other leadership knew or participated in the actions by rogue [former] employees,” Parsons told TRD.

Even though Shahid cooperated with the federal investigations, he still received a 46-month prison term in 2017.

“It’s important to me that white collar defendants believe if they act this way they will suffer serious custodial sentences,” Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rodgers said at the sentencing.

Throughout the various accusations, it has always been the Seenos on the same side. But a new lawsuit between father and son has changed that.

Daddy issues

The recent lawsuit filed by Albert Jr. claims that Albert III was terminated as CEO of two of the family companies: Seecon and Seecon Built Homes. It was a role Albert III was elevated to in July of 2020. Albert Jr. claims he attempted to fire his son in February and March of last year, but his son did not comply. Albert III instead argues that there is language in his employment agreement that states he can only be terminated if he commits a felony that affects his father’s businesses.

Albert Jr., however, claims his succession plan was to promote his son without immediately ceding his own control over the companies. The lawsuit also alleges that the younger Seeno, along with Parsons, retained attorneys to draft an employment agreement with language that could force his father and other shareholders out.

Not long after the agreement was drafted, Albert III allegedly began “coercing, intimidating and then bullying” his father into fulfilling the contract, according to the lawsuit.

“Seeno III intimidation tactics included, but were not limited to, attempting to bully and denigrate his father. When these tactics failed, Seeno III resorted to pressuring Seeno by telling him that if he did not sign the employment agreement, Seeno would never see his three grandsons again,” the filing reads.

Albert Jr. has also accused his son of blocking him from accessing company records and using Seeno Companies employees for Discovery Builders projects.

In one example, the lawsuit alleges that Discovery Builders used the Seeno Companies’ name and trademarks on a project to bring 252 single-family homes to Brentwood.

Albert III has denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit, according to Parsons.

“This is reflective of some natural tensions with succession planning that are often typical, unfortunately, and in my opinion, hardly newsworthy,” he said.

Albert III countersued his father in October, disputing claims of roughly $100 million of debt allegedly owed by Albert III and Discovery Builders.

Albert III alleges that funds from a trust his parents set up were used to pay down Albert Jr.’s debts without his permission. Albert III also accused his father of attempting to interrupt operations at Discovery Builders in the lawsuit.

The family feud has not only pitted father against son, but it also sent a warning shot across the Bay and played a role in killing a major project for the firm.

A partnership between Discovery, Lewis Group & Cos. and California Capital and Investment Group was selected to transform a former naval station in Concord into 16,000 new homes and more than six million square feet of commercial space. The partnership known as Concord First Partners was approved by the Concord City Council in a 3-2 vote in August 2021.

But after a two-hour special meeting on Jan. 28 of this year, the council voted to cut ties with the group, citing concerns over the Seeno family feud and why it wasn’t disclosed sooner.

“Where’s the integrity, where’s the information to let us know?” Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister said during the meeting. “We had to read about it in the newspapers, that’s not what I’m looking for in a partnership arrangement.”

The development team believes the city’s decision to halt negotiations was misguided.

“A lot of the questions are personal and aimed at personalizing the issue,” Capital California’s Tagami said. “It didn’t have to do with the term-sheet specifics or the deal point, but rather addressing accusations that were made through editorial comment that were in the local papers.”

It’s another issue the father and son duo will have to sort through as the future of one of the last family-run development firms in the Bay Area hangs in the balance. While the court can settle their business dispute, it’s up to Albert Jr. and Albert III to squash their personal differences. Otherwise, it will be an awkward Thanksgiving for the Seeno family.


City of Benicia North Study Area (Seeno property)

For current information from the City of Benicia, check out their North Study Area web page,