Sunday, October 5, 2008

Final Vote on Seeno Project, Oct. 7, City Hall

Please come to City Hall on Oct. 7 for the public hearing on the traffic study and the final vote on the Seeno/Benicia Business Park project.

[To refresh you memory about the reason for the traffic study please view some of the previous posts on this blog, particularly this one on June 4. This timeline of the project approval process is also quite revealing. ]

The Benicia Business Park public hearing is at the end of the City Council agenda, and is not likely to begin until around 8:00 pm. It may last until quite late, and many people will not be able to stay, but a good citizen turnout at the beginning would be very helpful.

In a nutshell, in order for the Council to approve the proposed project on Oct. 7, they must agree to sign a "Statement of Overriding Considerations." That statement admits that the proposed project will generate traffic emissions which will cause significant air pollution impacts that exceed State thresholds for ozone precursors.

(Ozone is a serious public health hazard, and Benicia already has higher levels of ozone than most Bay Area communities. The toxic effects of the localized traffic emissions will be particularly severe for the school children and residents around Robert Semple school near E. 2nd Street and I-780. But the increased ozone level and its increased ozone-related health hazards will be experienced by everyone city-wide. )

The Statement of Overriding Considerations goes on to make the very dubious claim that there are no other mitigation measures that can be employed to reduce the traffic impact to a less than significant level. Finally, it makes the unproven claim that the economic benefit to the city's tax base is so great that it creates an "overriding consideration," thus allowing them to approve the project and override the clean air requirements of CEQA law and accept the ozone air pollution burdens and adverse public health effects that will accrue from the project.

If you don't feel that is an acceptable trade off, now is the time to let the City Council know! (Click here to send them emails)

And by the way, project denial would not be the end of the project. Instead, it would finally open the door and allow a fresh start for the developer to work with the City and the community on a new vision for the project, clearly outlined in a detailed Specific Plan. Many details of the community’s vision have already been thoroughly described throughout the approval process by many individuals and groups (most recently in a detailed document posted by the Green Gateway Group at ), so the developer would not have to start over with no ideas and a blank slate.

If you have time, in preparation for the Council meeting you will find it useful to read the Staff Report and the Public Comments pertaining to the Seeno hearing on Oct. 7. To read them click on this link to the Oct.7 City Council agenda and scroll down to item VIII. Public Hearings, B. Benicia Business Park. Then click the links to Staff Report and Public Comments. (They are both very large files and may take several minutes to download.)

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