Keeps ag/rural land for migratory birds and from being rezoned industrial
During their meeting Wednesday, Oct. 19, the Los Banos City Council unanimously adopted the General Plan 2042 update, which has been in the works since 2017, expanded the city’s Planning Area, the associated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and the new Annexation Ordinance. The expanded Planning Area includes enlarging the Proposed Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), Proposed Sphere of Influence (SOI) and Proposed Area of Interest (AOI) for future potential annexations into the city limits. (See Los Banos Draft General Plan 2042)
The council recognized Myriam Flores upon her retirement as a Public Safety Dispatcher after 20 years of service as a City employee who “has contributed tremendously throughout her career to the community of Los Banos with her knowledge and commitment to her job”. Mayor Pro Tem Ken Lambert presented her with a proclamation to, “commend Myriam Flores on her dedication and loyalty to the City of Los Banos.”
In addition, Finance Department IT Technician, Abel Parsad was honored as September Employee of the Month for his “outstanding performance and dedicated service to the City of Los Banos”.
General Plan Update
The General Plan includes Land Use, traffic Circulation, Housing, Parks, Open Space and Conservation, Safety and Noise, as well as Environmental Justice.
The maps and policies in the General Plan are structured around the following seven initiatives: Providing for balanced and sustainable growth; Creating new jobs to develop the local economy; Integrating neighborhoods and neighborhood centers; Creating a network of parks and open space; Creating a safe, efficient, and equitable circulation system for all users; Providing ample retail and shopping opportunities; and Planning for environmental justice.
California law defines “environmental justice” as the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. The law allows cities and counties to address environmental justice either by adopting a stand-alone environmental justice element or by incorporating environmental justice goals, policies, and actions into other elements.
The General Plan 2042 takes the approach of incorporating environmental justice goals, policies, and actions into its other elements. These goals, policies, and actions address procedural inequities and geographic inequities. See pages I-10 & 11 of the Draft General Plan 2042 for more details about environmental justice.
Expanded Planning Area
During the presentation staff gave the council three options to choose from. They could A) Keep as is in the Draft GP with the Industrial designation and UGB extension; B) Revert back to the existing General Plan with Agriculture/Rural designation, outside the UGB and establish the Grassland Resources Overlay Zone (GROZ) to cover the inter-canal corridor north of Hwy 152 (east of the city limits); or C) Maintain the Industrial designation in the 35-acre western area and extend the UGB to the western edge of the SR-152 Bypass designation, and revert the 12-acre eastern area to Agriculture/Rural.
The council chose option B for expanding the city’s Planning Area, which protects the wetlands for migratory birds and to keep good relations with the Central California Irrigation District and Grassland Water District.
The Annexation Ordinance also includes requirements for Specific Plans for significant new areas annexed to the City. The ordinance would not change the specific legal process for annexations, which requires input from residents or property owners and are subject to Merced County LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) review and approval.
Following the council’s 4-0 votes in favor of the items, Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Souza- Elms said, “This is very momentous, tonight, thank you very much.”