City of Benicia This Week
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In this edition: Important Reminder for Utility Bill Payment; Republic Services Experiencing Temporary Delays; Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space; Gray Water System Requirements; Openings on Boards and Commissions; Library News; City Employee Spotlight; FAQ – COVID-19 Vaccines; COVID Assistance
Message from the City Manager
October 11, 2021

Hello Everyone,
City of Benicia Personnel Policy #44 will take effect today. This policy requires vaccination of City staff. Those not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly and wear a mask while indoors at City facilities as well as following all applicable State, County and Local guidelines regarding the wearing of masks.

We did not step into this lightly, but felt it was needed to help protect the safety of our staff and our community. I know some will feel this policy does not go far enough. And some will feel it is a governmental overreach. As always, we are trying to do our very best to balance very real public health concerns with the very real concerns about personal freedoms. Bottom line is we want to do what is best for our community and our staff in this difficult and ever-changing pandemic response.

I want to take a moment to thank our labor groups and their representatives as well as Kim Imboden, our Human Resources Manager, and Fire Chief Josh Chadwick for their work on this. From the very beginning our labor representatives took a positive, thoughtful, and collaborative approach to this very delicate issue.

We continue to look for ways to advance the health of our community. We are currently working with the County in hopes that we will be at the forefront of providing booster shots as those become necessary and more widely available. Additionally, it is our hope when the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, we will be able to partner with the County and the School District to help provide those shots at a local clinic. Finally, the Fire Chief is working with the County in hopes of providing drive-through flu clinics here in Benicia later this year.

On a very positive note, I would like to point out that the Benicia Dog Festival will be happening on Sunday, October 17 at the First Street Green. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. This festival has been a long time in the works, and I want to give thanks to the event’s founder Gaul Culley for her patience, thoughtfulness, and, yes, stubbornness, as she worked to make this event happen. Benicia is a very dog-friendly community, and this event will be a fantastic opportunity to get out and connect. Please see their website for more information (

Thank you for your interest in the City of Benicia This Week!

Erik Upson
City Manager
City News
Important Reminder for Utility Bill Payment
- City to launch new online utility payment system on Monday, October 18.
- NO credit card payments in person or online October 11-17.
- Cash and check payment options available.
- Online payment customers must re-register starting October 18.
- Finance Dept staff available for assistance at 707.746.4225.

Your Autopay Payment Will Not Occur
As a reminder, for customers who use the City's online customer self-service portal to make one-time payments or use autopay for water & wastewater utility bills, the City is upgrading to a more secure online bill paying system. The new system offers enhanced security and a better payment experience for users.

There are some things customers should be aware of while the City converts to the new, more secure system. Please take note:

  • The City of Benicia bills utilities in two cycles, one half of all customers in one month and the other half the next month. If you received your water & wastewater utility bill recently with a due date of Monday, October 18, 2021 and usually pay by autopay, your autopay will not occur even if your statement says, "Autopay Do Not Pay".
  • From October 11 - 17, no online payment will be available. Customers may pay by check or cash in person at City Hall's Finance Department, use the secure drop-box in front of City Hall, or pay by mail.
  • Beginning Monday, October 18, the upgraded online payment system will launch. Payment information in the previous system will no longer be available to the City. Customers must re-register using their same account-customer number but must now use their email address as their username instead of their previous username.

Details on how to re-register will be published in this newsletter on Monday, October 18. Finance Department staff are available to assist customers, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Call 707.746.4225 or email [email protected] for assistance. Please note that City offices are closed on alternating Fridays.
Republic Services Experiencing Temporary Delays
Republic Services shares the following statement about delays Benicia customers are experiencing:

"Republic Services of Contra Costa County has been experiencing some temporary collection delays in Benicia and the surrounding areas. Customers impacted by a delay should receive notification from an automated system.

Many industries are facing staffing and supply chain challenges at this time due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the Environmental Services industry is no different. We are carefully monitoring the needs of our customers and communities with the supply and availability of our talent and adjusting our efforts to attract, engage and retain talent accordingly.

Republic Services of Contra Costa County is always recruiting and hiring great people to join our team, and offers a competitive salary, generous benefits, paid vacation, safety bonuses, and numerous career advancement opportunities. For more information, please visit
We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience during this time."
Master Plan for Parks, Trails and Open Space
The City is continuing work on the Parks, Trails, and Open Space Master Plan update to guide the planning, maintenance, development, and rehabilitation of Benicia’s parks, trails, and open space system. The project team has worked hard to create a range of opportunities for the community to guide the plan. 

A key source of guidance is a statistically-valid survey that was mailed to 3,000 Benicia households in July. Staff were pleased to get a solid response with 448 surveys returned, surpassing the goal of 400. The survey results will help the City to understand the community’s wants and needs, and inform how the Parks & Community Services Department can best meet the community’s needs for parks, trails and open space.  
The survey was administered by the ETC Institute, which has prepared a Findings Report that is now available on the project website, The details of the Findings Report will be presented to the Parks, Recreation & Cemetery Commission at its meeting on Wednesday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m.
The City appreciates the broad interest in this project and the valuable input received thus far. All input received from the community will be used to guide project identification and prioritization in the plan update. Staff anticipates presenting a summary of the full input received over the past several months at the January Parks, Recreation & Cemetery Commission meeting. For additional details, please contact Vic Randall at [email protected] or 707.746.4278.
Gray Water System Requirements
Thinking of installing a gray water system? Here are the steps to follow:

Choose a type of gray water system
  1. Clothes Washing Systems in compliance with California Plumbing Code 2019 Section 1503.1.1 are exempt from a construction permit. There are 13 compliance requirements in order to meet the exemption.
  2. Simple Gray Water Systems serve one and two family dwellings, townhouses, or other occupancies with a discharge of 250 gallons per day or less. Design professional recommended.*
  3. Complex Gray Water Systems discharge over 250 gallons per day. Design professional required.*
*Note: Gray water systems require a permit.
Apply for a Permit
  1. Visit and click to submit for a building permit.
  2. Provide the design, location, and physical characteristics of the project. Show this in plans, specifications, written, graphic, and pictorial documents. Construction documents are required showing compliance with California Plumbing Code 2019 Section 1503.0 Gray Water Systems & 1503.1 General.
  3. Show compliance with Chapter 15 of the California Plumbing Code Alternative water sources for non-potable applications.

Sustainable Solano is working to host a local Laundry to Landscape workshop. Details will be shared in this newsletter and at
Openings on Boards and Commissions
Would you like to volunteer, share your input, and support your local government? The City of Benicia has many current and future openings on it's Boards and Commissions.

Current openings are:
  • Building Code Board of Appeals, 1 full term, expiring July 31, 2025
  • Historic Preservation Review Commission, 2 full terms, expiring July 31, 2025
  • Human Services Board, 1 full term, expiring July 31, 2025
  • Planning Commission, 1 partial term, expiring January 31, 2022
  • Sky Valley Open Space Committee, 1 full term, expiring January 31, 2023

Many terms will expire on January 31, 2022. To keep City Boards and Commissions running smoothly, interviews will begin in November. Click here to see the variety of meeting bodies and when they meet (currently virtually). Click on each one to see what they do and view the member roster, then click here to apply online to have your application on file when interviews begin.
Library News
Benicia Public Library shares the following news:

Home Delivery
Now that the library is back to being open for normal hours and their Curbside Pick Up Service is closing, they are starting a new Home Delivery Service for those who are home-bound or still not getting out due to the pandemic. This service is provided to residents of Benicia who are unable to come to the library to pick up their hold items. More info and application.

Auto Renewal is Here
If your items are available to renew, they will automatically renew twice. Check your account to see the new due date OR check mark Email Receipts in your account to receive the new due dates in your email.

The Art Gallery is Open!
Visit the Marilyn Citron O'Rourke Gallery to view the latest exhibition, EAST - WEST: An Experience of Images and Ideas, on display September 29 - December 23. The artists are Diane Williams, Stephanie Gray, Merry Greg.
City Employee Spotlight
Lauren Greenwald began her career with the City of Benicia as a Recreation Leader back in 2003 and eventually moved on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Lauren returned to the City in 2017 and works as a Human Resources Technician in the HR Department. Lauren works on recruitments, new hire orientations, processes worker’s compensation insurance, schedules and tracks required citywide training, organizes employee appreciation events, and also processes the multitude of administrative duties that happened in an HR Department… the list goes on and on. She is a positive and encouraging employee who doesn’t shy away from any project given to her; always willing to learn something new.
Lauren and her husband, Bret, are lifelong Benicia residents with several generations of family here in town. Lauren has an energetic and inquisitive 2 year old son, Sutter, and they spend a lot of time looking for the train to go by along the water and keeping an eye out for the garbage truck and the street sweeper! As a family they like to camp and travel around California – they love the Central Coast and Sea Ranch/Gualala. Each year they grow a robust garden that provides a variety of fruits and vegetables all spring and summer and they also keep chickens that provides them with LOTS of eggs. Lauren loves cooking, home improvement projects, taking walks, reading, and being crafty.

When asked about her favorite thing about working in Human Resources, she said there were too many to list but said “I feel so blessed to live and work in my community that I love so dearly.”
FAQ – COVID-19 Vaccines
Solano County Health & Social Service, Public Health, shares the following Frequently Asked Questions and answers (as of 10/6/21):

Who is eligible to be vaccinated?
Anyone 12 and over who live, attend school or work in Solano County can get vaccinated.

Are vaccines free?
Yes, vaccines are provided for free to anyone living in the United States, regardless of immigration or health insurance status.

How will I know when and where to go?
Please check the Solano Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information page for more information about vaccination locations within the county. You may also check with your healthcare provider to provide you with additional information about vaccine availability. More clinics can also be found using the state's MyTurn notification and vaccine clinic platform at, where you can find more information about vaccine clinics surrounding Solano County.

How do I know when to come back for the second dose of vaccine?
If you need help scheduling your vaccine appointment for your second shot, contact the location that set up your appointment for assistance. You will be given a CDC vaccine card with additional information including the follow up vaccination. If you received your vaccine through the mass vaccination clinic or popup vaccine clinics hosted by Solano County, please see the list of previous vaccine clinics on the page for more information.

Who is eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster?
  • Anyone who is 65 years and older
  • Anyone who is age 18 – 64 and a resident in a long-term care setting
  • Anyone who is age 18 – 64 and has underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of severe complications. Please see the CDC definition of medical conditions
  • • Anyone who is age 18 – 64 who work in high-risk settings

How long after getting my initial COVID-19 vaccines can I get an additional dose?
COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago.

When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if I am NOT in one of the recommended groups?
Additional populations may be recommended to receive a booster shot as more data become available. The COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized in the United States continue to be effective at reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Experts are looking at all available data to understand how well the vaccines are working for different populations. This includes looking at how new variants, like Delta, affect vaccine effectiveness.

What should people who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) vaccine do?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and CDC’s recommendations are bound by what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization allows. At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine will likely need a booster shot at some point. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots are expected soon. With those data in hand, CDC will keep the public informed with a timely plan for Moderna and J&J/Janssen booster shots.

If we need a booster shot, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?
No. COVID-19 vaccines are working well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. However, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection, especially among certain populations, against mild and moderate disease.

Where can I get a Pfizer vaccine booster?
Please check the Solano Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information page for more information about vaccination locations within the county. You may also check with your healthcare provider to provide you with additional information about vaccine availability. Qualifying individuals can also schedule an appointment at their nearest pharmacy that administers booster doses. These include Walmart pharmacy, Safeway pharmacy, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.

How long after getting my initial COVID-19 vaccines can I get an additional dose?
The CDC recommends the additional dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine be administered at least four weeks after a second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for those people who have severe medical conditions. Please see the CDC definition of medical conditions.

Can you mix and match the vaccines?
For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.

What should immunocompromised people who received the J&J/Janssen vaccine do?
The FDA’s recent EUA amendment only applies to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, as does CDC’s recommendation.

Emerging data have demonstrated that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection following two doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may have an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine. There is not enough data at this time to determine whether immunocompromised people who received the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine also have an improved antibody response following an additional dose of the same vaccine.

What are the benefits of people receiving an additional vaccine dose?
An additional dose may prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 in people who may not have responded to their initial vaccine series because of severe underlying immunocompromising conditions. In ongoing clinical trials, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) have been shown to prevent COVID-19 following the two-dose series. Limited information suggests that immunocompromised people who have low or no protection after two doses of mRNA vaccines may have an improved response after an additional dose of the same vaccine.

What are the risks of vaccinating individuals with an additional dose?
There is limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated. So far, reactions reported after the third mRNA dose were similar to that of the two-dose series: fatigue and pain at injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most symptoms were mild to moderate.
However, as with the two-dose series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Where can I get an additional dose if I am immunocompromised?
Please check the Solano Public Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information page for more information about vaccination locations within the county. You may also check with your healthcare provider to provide you with additional information about vaccine availability. Qualifying individuals can also schedule an appointment at their nearest pharmacy that administers booster doses. These include Walmart pharmacy, Safeway pharmacy, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.

Why should I get vaccinated?
Vaccination is an important tool to help stop the pandemic. It protects you and others by reducing infection and the spread of COVID-19. Together, the vaccine and other public health measures (like wearing a face covering and social distancing) will offer the best protection from COVID-19, reducing further spread so businesses and schools can fully reopen and we can return to a more normal way of life.

Are the vaccines safe and effective?
Yes, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe. It has undergone tens of thousands of clinical trials and has met the FDA's rigorous standards for safety needed to support emergency use. Vaccines have a long history of safety and effectiveness. While infrastructure to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines is being scaled up as quickly as possible, routine processes and procedures are in place to ensure the safety of any vaccine that is authorized or approved for use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an independent group of experts that reviews all the safety data as it comes in and provides regular safety updates. The State of California also conducts its own review of the vaccines’ clinical data to ensure they’re safe to use. The CDC, Food and Drug Administration and healthcare providers will continue safety monitoring as more people are vaccinated to learn about any additional vaccine side effects.

How does the vaccine work?
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are mRNA vaccines, and they do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Therefore, they cannot give someone COVID-19. The vaccines do not contain live viruses that could cause infection, are rapidly broken down by the human body after injection and do not interact with or affect with a person's DNA. The vaccines use messenger RNA to teach the body's own cells to produce antibodies to protect itself from COVID-19. Both vaccines require two doses over a three- to four-week period.

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses a modified version of a different virus to deliver important instructions to our cells.

What are the side effects?
Common side effects include pain and swelling on the injection site and fever, chills, tiredness, and headache throughout the rest of the body. These side effects are normal signs that the body is building protections. These side effects may affect the ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Both Pfizer and Moderna have created fact sheets that include common side effects and other information you should know:

If I am pregnant, can I still receive the vaccine?
If you are pregnant, you may choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Based on how the vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. You may want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider to help you decide whether to get vaccinated with a vaccine that has been authorized for use under Emergency Use Authorization. However, there are currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people.

What happens if I miss or am late for the second dose of the series?
If you miss your second dose appointment, you should reschedule as soon as possible. The CDC recommends following recommended guidelines, but if this is not feasible, the second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be administered up to six weeks after the first one. Both doses are needed for full protection. A single dose conveys a lower degree of protection from the virus than two doses. There is no reason to schedule a third dose if the second is received late. Can I take my dose early if I have a scheduling conflict? The CDC indicates that it is safe to administer vaccines up to four days early. Anything beyond that should be considered an error and reported (to your healthcare provider or directly to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System).

What if I get infected with COVID-19 after the first dose of vaccine but before the second one?
Will I need to wait and retake the first dose or just get the second? There is no need to retake the first dose. Self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset or from the testing date if you are asymptomatic. Schedule your second dose appointment after the self-isolation period is complete.

What can fully vaccinated individuals do after getting vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated once it has been two weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series, or 2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine. Fully vaccinated people can:
  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel (unless required by the destination)
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the U.S. for international travel (unless required by the destination)

How long is the protection from the COVID-19 vaccine?
We are still unsure of the length of the protection for the vaccines. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity to the COVID-19 virus.
COVID Assistance
Find vaccine locations, resources and information for seniors, local food access, basic needs and rental assistance, mental health, stress and coping, and more courtesy of Solano County Public Health. Benicia residents in need of help during these difficult times may find assistance through these local resources:

Press Releases
Recent City of Benicia Press Releases are available on the City of Benicia website under Main/Announcements.
Save the Date
Modified service due to COVID-19
City Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you require entrance to City Hall offices outside of these hours, please make arrangements with staff from the department that you will be visiting.

All visitors shall be required to enter City Hall from East L street through the door located on the left (East) side of the building closest to the Post Office. Please check in with the staff person at the designated Welcome Window.

You will be required to wear a face covering over both your nose and mouth for the duration of your visit to City Hall. Please maintain 6 feet of social distancing between other visitors and staff. Do not visit City Hall if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Appointments can always be rescheduled.
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