City of Benicia This Week
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In this edition: Cancellation of 4th of July Events, COVID Vaccine Update, Chromebooks & Hotspots Available, Openings on Boards and Commissions, City Employee Spotlight, COVID Assistance
Message from the City Manager
May 17, 2021

Hello Everyone,
The City of Benicia received some good news, second-hand, last week as our tourism advertising consultants, Creative Digital Agency (CDA), was recognized for their work on our “Great Escape by the Bay" campaign. This COVID-19 specific plan was awarded the Platinum Award of the 2021 Hermes Creative Awards in the Communications / Marketing Campaign category. Great credit goes to our Economic Development Team as well as our Council’s leadership in never losing sight of the work it would take to help keep our businesses going during the pandemic. I’ve received a number of emails from local businesses thanking the City team for their work to promote business during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe it will help propel Benicia even stronger than most communities as we come out of the other side of this tragic last year that we have experienced.
While we are very close to the end of this pandemic, it is still too early to let our guard down. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control updated its guidance for wearing masks. We are waiting for direction from California Department of Public Health, then Solano County Public Health Department before those changes take effect in Benicia.

While California finds itself in the enviable position of having one of the lowest COVID-19 occurrence rates, Solano County remains in the Red Tier. We have certainly seen the repercussions of letting ones’ guard down too early both nationally and internationally. And while the Governor has indicated there could be some massive changes in the restrictions come June 15th, we are still short of details as to what that would look like. Certainly, nothing will have likely changed dramatically with our understanding of the disease. It is thus we continue to be forced to make some very difficult decisions about what we can allow, and what we must have a little more patience with. As I have said, nothing is more important to me that the health and safety of this community. Council has been steadfast in their support of that philosophy, and I greatly appreciate their support. I believe, unquestioningly, those decisions have saved lives, and have helped make our community safer. 

The decision, as you will read below, to cancel the 3rd of July parade and 4th of July fireworks show was extremely difficult for all involved. After discussion with Benicia Main Street (who host the events), thoughtful consideration of the current situation, as well as the uncertainty over what will transpire in June, we collaboratively made this difficult decision. In good conscience, we simply cannot bring 20-30,000 people into close contact as close as we are to the finish line. It is our sincere hope that neighborhoods and neighbors will use this opportunity to come together, host small neighborhood events that help bring us closer together and build upon what makes Benicia so special.

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

Erik Upson
City Manager
City News
Cancellation of 4th of July Events
In an abundance of caution, the City will forgo hosting the 3rd of July parade and the fireworks show on the evening of July 4th due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The traditional Torchlight Parade on July 3rd and the Picnic in the Park and Fireworks Display on July 4th are events cosponsored by the City of Benicia and Benicia Main Street.
Unfortunately, Solano County remains one of the few counties still in the more restrictive Red Tier. Governor Newsom has announced plans to relax regulations and remove the tier system on June 15th. However, mass gatherings are currently not allowed, and the State has provided no indication that mass gatherings will be permitted with the forthcoming changes. Mass gatherings are of concern because Benicia’s Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display each draw upwards of 20,000 spectators.
The City and Benicia Main Street have been waiting for guidance from the Governor’s Office to make a final determination but due to the need to have begun planning some time ago and the lack of specific details from the Governor’s Office, the City wants to give families time to prepare for other celebrations.
“Those communities that have announced plans to host 4th of July festivities are able to do so because they have venues, such as amphitheaters or other spaces, where attendance can be limited and controlled. In Benicia, we don’t have the facilities that would allow to limit the size of mass gatherings,” said Erik Upson, City Manager. “The safety of our community remains our top priority. We have the end of this pandemic in sight and can look forward to celebrating again as a community next year.” 

Smaller neighborhood celebrations are encouraged. The City’s Parks and Community Services Department will soon announce exciting details of fun 4th of July activities to bring neighborhoods together.
COVID Vaccine Update
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15-year-old adolescents. Solano County Public Health has expanded vaccine eligibility to Solano County residents 12-15 years of age. Starting last Thursday, families can now schedule an appointment for their 12 to 15-year-old to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Parents must accompany their children to the vaccine clinic as consent is required.

For individuals age 16-17 years old, they can also receive receive the Pfizer vaccine and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to their appointment, or have a parent/guardian that can contact by phone during the appointment.

Public Health has several vaccine clinics scheduled. Click here for details. For scheduling assistance, call the vaccine line at 707.784.8655. Homebound or need transportation to get to a vaccine clinic? Call the vaccine line at 707.784.8655.
Chromebooks & Hotspots Available
Thanks to a grant from the Benicia Library Foundation, the Benicia Public Library has purchased 10 Chromebooks and 10 Wi-Fi hotspots for public checkout.

A hotspot provides a link to the Internet from anyplace you plug it in. Chromebooks are laptops that can connect to the internet through any accessible Wi-Fi network—including the one you create by firing up a hotspot. This is part of the Library’s effort to bridge the digital divide for those without access to the Internet—a necessity of life in many fundamental ways in this era.

The devices can be reserved through the Library’s catalog by typing in the word Hotspot or Chromebook, or you can call the Library at 707.746.4343 to place a hold. These devices can be borrowed for three weeks. Or check out EveryoneOn, an organization who is working with California Emerging Technology Fund and other organizations to help bring low-cost internet service and affordable computers to those who need it. Type in your zip code, answer a question and see what is available.
Openings on Boards and Commissions
The City of Benicia functions in part with the help of community volunteers who serve on the many advisory boards and commissions. If you'd like to give of your time, please take a look at this page, Click the name of any board or commission to learn about their duties, members, when they meet and to apply online. You are encouraged to apply even if there is not a currently vacancy so that you will be considered when one becomes available.

Here are current vacancies waiting for your talent:
  • Arts & Culture Commission
  • 1 Partial Term, Expiring July 31, 2021
  • 1 Full Term, Expiring January 31, 2025
  • Human Services Board
  • 1 Partial Term, Expiring July 31, 2021
  • Library Board of Trustees
  • 2 Full Terms, Expiring January 31, 2024
  • Open Government Commission
  • 1 Full Term, Expiring January 31, 2025
  • Planning Commission
  • 2 Full Terms, Expiring January 31, 2025
  • 1 Partial Term, Expiring January 31, 2024
  • Sky Valley Open Space Committee
  • 1 Full Term, Expiring January 31, 2023
  • 3 Full Terms, Expiring January 31, 2025
  • Senior Coalition of Solano County

To fill vacancies, applications are reviewed and interviews are set with a two-member City Council subcommittee. After interviews, the subcommittee makes recommendations to the Mayor. The Mayor agendizes appointments for an upcoming City Council meeting, where the full Council votes on the appointment.

For questions or assistance, please reach out to Sarah Grebe, Executive Assistant to the City Manager at or 707.746.4228
City Employee Spotlight
Laura began her career with the Benicia Police Department in August 1998 after having served in the United States Army. Laura was assigned to the 82nd Airborne division and at the time was one of the first women paratroopers to ever serve in this capacity. Laura serves as the department’s property and evidence room manager and is responsible for the tracking and management of all evidence and property collected by the department. In addition Laura is a very skilled crime scene investigator and responds to the city’s most critical crimes.

Over the years, Laura has developed the reputation of being one of the most dedicated and talented employees at the police department and a regional expert in crime scene collection and evidence room management - Laura also serves as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.

Recently, the police chief ordered a complete audit of the evidence room as part of the city’s ongoing review of policies, procedures and best practices. The audit was conducted by an outside entity that ensure all evidence is accounted for, stored property and maintained in accordance with the law. It was no surprise to Chief Greene that the evidence room and the processes all scored very high, but auditors comments caught his attention. This particular auditor is known to be one of the very best and most critical in the field with almost 25 years of experience auditing law enforcement property rooms. He described Laura as one the top 5 evidence managers ever reviewed. Laura was praised for her knowledge, organization, attention to detail and adherence to policy and law. And made a point to let the department know how lucky they are to have Laura Williams as an employee. They agree!

Proper management of the evidence room is critically important to the success of the police department. This is a tedious process that requires a high level of technical skills and organization. Just one error could have a disastrous impact on a criminal investigation. Laura is often found working quietly behind the scenes trying to avoid the spotlight. She is the first to volunteer to help out in any capacity and is quick to credit others for good work. The police department is proud of the work Laura does and fortunate to have someone so highly skilled and talented working in her role.
COVID Assistance
Find 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:

Save the Date
  • May 17 - Community Sustainability Commission meeting, 6 p.m. via livestream. See the Full Agenda for more information.
  • May 17 - Art Gallery Subcommittee meeting, 6:30 p.m. via livestream. See the Full Agenda for more information.
  • May 18 - City Council meeting, 7 p.m. via livestream. Watch live at See the Full Agenda for more information.
  • May 20 - Public Art Subcommittee meeting, 6:30 p.m. via livestream. See the Full Agenda for more information.
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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