City of Los Banos receives input from residents on Downtown Master Plan

On August 25, 2022 by Justin Collins
Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Souza-Elms speaks during the workshop as Bruce Brubaker of Placeworks looks on. Photo by Justin Collins

Two more workshops planned, next one expected end of October

On Tuesday August 23, 2022, the City of Los Banos hosted a Downtown Master Plan Community Workshop in the Community Center. The purpose was to allow the public to communicate to the city what their priorities are regarding revitalization of downtown. The 20 to 30 in attendance learned that the city has partnered with two businesses hired to make the plans a reality.

Placeworks is focused on downtown revitalization in general while the Mark Thomas engineering firm is focused on transportation. The Downtown Strategic Plan was adopted by the city council in 2020, but everything came to a grinding halt once the COVID-19 pandemic began. The area being referred to as “the downtown”, and the area that this plan addresses is located between H, 4th and 7th Streets and Pacheco Blvd. The plan calls for rehabilitation of buildings, providing for new infrastructure and landscaping, as well as an attempt to draw more businesses downtown.

Residents had an opportunity to voice their opinions about the plan at the meeting. Several referenced a plan from 20 years ago created by the Downtown Planning Advisory Committee referred to as DPAC, which developed a plan to join the Rail Trail and downtown area and was adopted by the city council but wondered why the entire plan were never implemented. 

Stacy Souza-Elms, the city’s Community and Economic Development Director explained that the plan created 20 years ago was “grandiose and beautiful”, but they didn’t have the money to execute it, and to this day the plan is far too ambitious and expensive. So, now the city is turning to a new plan that is expected to be more feasible. 

That was when the city had a redevelopment agency, she explained later. But that has since been disbanded by the state.

Following the presentation, residents were given the opportunity to place stickers on categories and improvements to convey to the city what they want prioritized. The two most prevalent comments were that people wanted more dining, including outdoor and shopping in downtown. Plus, they want widening of sidewalks, more lighting and bike lines, as well.

Among those in attendance were Councilmen Brett Jones, Refugio Llamas and Deborah Lewis who listened to the comments from their constituents.

“There will be two more community meetings which are targeted for the end of October,” Souza-Elms shared. “Based on the feedback, we’re going to return with some concepts for more public input.”

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.


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