Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seeno project is the difference

by Norma Fox, Oct. 16, 2008

Wondering what’s the difference between the three leading candidates (Hughes, Schwartzman, and Smith) in the upcoming City Council election? They’re all well-meaning competent citizens with years of service to Benicia, so what’s the big difference?

The Seeno project is the difference!

When the Seeno project is developed (528 acres of open land, zoned industrial/ commercial, in the north corner of Benicia near Lake Herman Rd.) it will forever change the character of Benicia – for good or ill – depending on the degree of environmental and public health standards that our Council members insist upon.

Over that past couple of years, Mr. Seeno brought forward various versions of a mediocre Business Park plan, one that lacked any serious public transportation component for employees, and which would have snarled our traffic and vastly increased the extreme health-damaging effects of ozone in the air we breathe.

Throughout that process – while knowing that Benicia’s ozone levels are already fourth worst in the Bay Area, and knowing that Mr. Seeno’s plan would greatly exceed government established ozone thresholds – the two incumbents (Schwartzman and Hughes) were consistently willing to approve that project, demanding only cosmetic tweaks and non-binding promises from the developer.

Their response to the issue of increased ozone in our air (an invisible gas which instigates and aggravates everything from allergies to asthma and emphysema) was simply that it’s just an inevitable result of large developments and we just have to accept it.

By contrast, candidate and former Council member Dan Smith would attend those Council meetings and warn them not to vote for such a poor project, and urge them to require Seeno to go back to the drawing board and bring forward a fundamentally redesigned project, based on sustainability principles, that would not compromise our public health and our environment.

Early this year Mr. Seeno put the project on hold, but we can be sure he will be back with a new project proposal in the near future. And when that project becomes active again, Dan Smith is the only one in the choice of candidates who can be counted on to refuse to approve any elements of the Seeno project that will sacrifice our public health, our environment, and our quality of life on the alter of economic development.

Dan knows that we do not have to settle for less! Mr. Seeno can still turn a profit on a high quality “green” Business Park, one that conforms to Benicia’s rightful need for clean healthy air and respect for our environment.

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