Design Guidelines Update for Downtown Historic District Coming in 2018

This month, the City of Benicia will start updating the Downtown Historic District design guidelines, which was last updated in 1990. The update is expected to reinforce the character of the historic district, bring Benicia into alignment with historic preservation “best practices,” and streamline design review procedures. 

Benicia’s Downtown Historic District encompasses First Street and the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the former Tannery Building, Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, State Historic Capitol Building and numerous national and state landmarks. 

The City has selected the consulting firm of Winter and Company to complete the project, which is funded in part by a Certified Local Government grant from the California Office of Historic Preservation. 

Suzanne Thorsen, Benicia’s Principal Planner who is managing the project, said, “This will be a fun, fast-paced project that will benefit our community for years to come! The guidelines will advance Benicia’s efforts to preserve its small-town character, and will complement the existing downtown plan.” 

The project will kick off this month with the following public meetings: 

  • Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. is a special meeting for the Historic Preservation Review Commission in the Commission Room, Benicia City Hall (250 East L Street)
  • Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. is a Community Workshop in the Doña Benicia Room, Benicia Public Library (150 East L Street)
  • Friday, January 19, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. is an Ad Hoc Advisory Group Meeting on in the Commission Room, Benicia City Hall (250 East L Street).

For more information please see the project webpage at

Police Department's New Alarm Registration Program

Police Department Implements New Security Alarm Registration Program to Improve Community Safety

Effective December 4, 2017, the Benicia Police Department will begin implementing a new security alarm registration program designed to improve the allocation of scarce public safety resources. 

Each year, Benicia Police Officers respond to approximately 1,500 false alarm calls, making this the Department’s most frequent call for service. The Police Department dispatches two officers per call, for safety reasons, which takes officers away from addressing important community safety issues. 

The goal of the new security alarm registration program is to significantly reduce false alarm calls in the City and encourage responsible security alarm ownership. 

The City has contracted with CryWolf, a company specializing in city security alarm programs, to manage the Benicia Police Department Security Alarm Program. Alarm owners who subscribe to alarm monitoring companies will be receiving letters directly notifying them about the program. 

The annual registration fee is $25 and there is a $100 fine for unregistered alarms. Once registered, the first false alarm is free; subsequent false alarms have the following fines: $100 fine for the first false alarm, $200 for the second, and $300 for the third and subsequent ones. 

In the past, residents and businesses were given three free false alarm calls each year. With the new fine schedule, everyone with an alarm system is required to register and will be allowed one free false alarm call per year. The increased penalties are designed to reduce the need for police officers to respond to false alarms. 

The program fees and fines are explained in more detail below: 

Alarm Fees Alarm - Registration           $25.00             NON REGISTERED

1st False Alarm (calendar year)              $0                    $100.00 

2nd False Alarm (calendar year)            $100.00            $200.00 

3rd False Alarm (calendar year)             $200.00           $300.00  

4th False Alarm + (calendar year)          $300.00           $300.00

Response to Non-Registered Alarms (Plus the false alarm fine)   $100.00 per Alarm 

Late fee for over 30 days:                      10% invoice     10% invoice 


Residents and business owners can visit for more information and register their alarms. Residents can call the Police Department Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (707) 746-4242 if they have questions regarding the program.

Flavor Insights Receives State Tax Credit Approval

Benicia, CA (April 14, 2017) - Yesterday in Sacramento, new Benicia business, Flavor Insights, received CalCompetes approval and State tax credits over 5 years. Flavor Insights is the first Benicia business to receive such an award after a three-month, three-part competitive process. The City of Benicia assisted in the application. "Benicia's economic development program is dedicated to assisting our existing businesses; accessing resources is one of the many services we provide. The success of our business ensures a thriving Benicia" said Mayor, Elizabeth Patterson. "We are pleased to see the California Competes committee approve Flavor Insights' application. This powerful economic development tool will assist them to grow and create prosperity in our community. We are so glad we could be part of their team."

The California Competes Tax Credit was created by Governor Brown to focus on helping businesses grow and stay in California. This application period, January 2017, the committee approved over $91 million in tax credits to 114 California businesses. Flavor Insights is a start-up for serial entrepreneur, Greg Pickett, and family. Recently featured in the SF Chronicle, Flavor Insights is the Bay Area's sole flavor factory and one of the few using a new spray-dry technology. 

Flavor Insights works as a critical partner with its customers to create product ideas, formulate organic, natural and artificial flavors that produce healthier and superior tasting products. The U.S. flavor and fragrance industry is estimated at $7 billion annually and with major companies like General Mills swearing off artificial ingredients, the demand for natural flavoring is higher than ever.  "We greatly appreciate the City of Benicia taking the initiative to introduce us to this resource and then work closely with us to submit the application. What City does that?" said Brenda Quast, VP Finance. "As an up-and-coming startup company, Flavor Insights is very excited to have been approved for this tax credit which helps us to grow and invest in new product development. We greatly appreciate these efforts to support California small businesses."

About California Competes

The California Competes tax credit is part of the Governor's Economic Development Initiative (GEDI) which Governor Brown signed legislation to enact in 2013 (AB 93 and SB 90). GO-Biz evaluates the most competitive applications based on the factors required by statute, including total jobs created, total investment, average wage, economic impact, strategic importance and more. Companies are exempted from paying state income tax in the amount awarded.

New Free Service For Small Businesses

The Solano Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has partnered with NorCal Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to help you sell your product or service to federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies at no cost to your business.

The mission of the NorCall PTAC is to help small businesses to more effectively compete in the government contracting marketplace. They provide counseling services, workshops, and training to help businesses and assist with research of government agencies who are buying your products and/or service and help develop marketing strategies and everything else you need to sell to federal, state and local government agencies. This and more, all for free!

Businesses located in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano or Trinity counties, are eligible to apply. More information is available on the Solano SBDC website.