Housing Element Update
Terry Mollica, Vice-Chair of Benicia’s Planning Commission, shared that the City and Planning Commission has been working on this for the past 6 months. The City is required by State law to periodically update the Housing Element, and to allocate a certain number of houses to help support the development that is needed to help bring the cost of housing down in California. Solano County is required to allocate 10,992 units for residential development. Benicia’s target is 863 units over the next 8 years, 2023-2031. We are examining barriers to development including zoning codes that might need to be addressed. Beyond the simple numbers, we are also looking at inclusionary housing, low and very low-income housing. After months of work, we are now at a critical stage of inviting public participation and support. An updated DRAFT Housing Element has been published, and we need YOU to read it and review it. It’s available on the City’s website at https://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/housingelement. You have until the end of July to comment. There will be a joint Council / Planning Commission meeting on July 26 at 6pm focused only on the Housing Element. There will also be an August 16 Council consideration where public comment is also welcome, written or spoken.
Conversation continued on SB 35 and Jefferson Ridge development and other projects under consideration.
Presentation: Recycling California’s Plastic Trash
The question of whether a plastics initiative will be on the ballot this fall has been decided. A new state law, SB 54 went into effect and the initiative has been pulled. We heard a brief update on this important issue including some suggestions about how you can help with this problem. What does SB 54 do?:
- 25% drop in single-use plastic by 2032
- 30% of plastics recyclable by 2028, 65% by 2032
- Establishes a producer responsibility organization, overseen by the state, to run the recycling program, and to pay $500 million to assess the impacts of plastics.
How to replace one single-use plastic item with a renewable or permanent item: https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
Action: Vote Forward
Don’t agonize, but organize! That was the focus of the second part of our July meeting. The Supreme Court’s decision that week on Roe was not unexpected, but it was a vivid reminder of why we are Democrats and believe that the government should not force women to bear children they do not want or can not support. This decision may only be the start in rolling back rights we have long taken for granted. We must turn this around, and the best way to do it is to make sure we maintain a majority in the House and get at least 2 more Democratic Senators so we don’t have to even think about Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema.
How can we help when we live in a solid blue state? Well, one way is to write to people in swing states. You can write postcards or letters. While it may seem like a chore, it’s actually fun, and is best achieved when we designate a time and a place for it and work collectively. To help get us all started, the second part of our meeting focused on the ins and outs of letter- and postcard-writing.
We gave instructions, but writers had to do a little in advance:
- Make an account at votefwd.org (if you already have an account you can use that one). IMPORTANT: This must be done THREE DAYS before the meeting. Vote Forward has to approve letter writers before creating assignments. If you have gmail look for a response in your promotions folder. But, if you haven’t done it yet you can still try and you may get it in time.
- Within a few days of making the Vote Forward account you will receive an email with instructions to download the letters and addresses. You can pick what state you’ll be writing to using the website. We’ll show you how to write the letters at our meeting.
- Plan to print at least 20 letters. Be sure not to print on both sides of the page. Check the printer settings.
- Be sure to have envelopes and stamps for your letters. We’ll address them together.
- Have a blue pen to address the envelopes and write part of the letter (most is printed)
We offered to print out letters if needed, to provide stamps, envelopes and postcards, and to deliver these materials locally (Benicia only).
- You can order postcards through the Progressive Turnout Project.
- 350 Bay Area Action will be doing postcarding to support California Democrats. More info: click on Send postcards. (Note: the price of a US domestic postcard stamp has increased from 40 cents to 44 cents as of July 10, 2022. First-class stamps, including Forever Stamps, work for postcards now and will continue to work after the change.)
- Jeanie White, president of the Northern Solano Democratic Club, also spoke about postcarding for Wanda Williams. and a fundraiser for Wanda Williams, “Cooking with Alice” on July 24, 4pm.
- Mayor Steve Young reported on City Council actions:
- Last week Council took first steps toward putting a sales tax measure on the November ballot, a general tax but focused almost exclusively on roads. It would be a 3/4 cent increase in the sales tax, taking effect April 2023. Four Council members are required to support adding the ballot measure, and currently all but Councilmember Largaespada support it. Next step, a vote on Tuesday July 19.
- Council will also take the first step on the 19th to add Renewal of Measure K, the Open Space ordinance on the November ballot. It will essentially be just a “word for word” replacement for the current law.
- There will be a joint Council / Planning Commission meeting on August 26 focused only on the Housing Element.
- August 2 is National Night Out, no Council meeting. Neighborhood Groups can invite Council members that night.
- On August 16 Council will consider a rate increase for Republic Services, connected to the new State law that requires more recycling of organic materials, including food waste, that is now supposed to be mixed in with green waste for weekly pickups in the green cans. The City has a consultant negotiating with Republic on what the rate increase ought to be.
- On Saturday, September 10 Council will hold our annual Goal-setting Workshop, an all day affair in the Library’s Dona Benicia room. The event will also be televised.
- Michelle Pellegrin of United Dems of Solano shared an update on HR 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban. As of this date, our Rep. Mike Thompson is the only congressional rep in California who hasn’t said he will support the bill – strange given his long tenure as chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Plan is to have chairs of Northern Solano Dems, United Dems and PDB to send a letter to Thompson urging support of 1808. Michelle shared contacts for members to write in support:
- Adam Durand, Mike Thompson’s Legislative Director, [email protected].
- Phone numbers – DC office: (202) 225-3311; Napa office: (707) 226-9898; Santa Rosa office: (707) 542-7182
- Our Interim Chair welcomed 3 new PDB members:
- Crispin Pierce
- Joyce Kennedy