Jones requests appointment of new mayor on Oct. 5th council agenda, downtown archway project moves forward
During their regular meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, the Los Banos City Council approved budget items totaling almost $2.2 million and heard a presentation from Police Chief Gary Brizzee on possible new locations for the homeless encampment. Only four council members were in attendance with Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Lambert leading the meeting, following the resignation of former Mayor Tom Faria the previous Friday, because he was moving out of the city the next day. (See related article)
During City Council Member Reports toward the end of the meeting, District 3 Councilman Brett Jones requested that a discussion, nomination and vote to appoint the next mayor be placed on the October 5th council meeting. As acting mayor, Lambert can place the item on the agenda. (See agenda)
The meeting began with several members of the community being recognized for achievement. The retirements of the city’s Administrative Coordinator Mary Lou Gilardi and Fire Captain Roger Hughes were recognized for their service to the city. Police Officer Josiah Mardirosian was recognized as employee of the month for August. The city’s finance department staff were recognized for receiving the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. This is the eighth year in a row that the finance department has won this award. Dutch Bros. Coffee was also recognized for donating part of its proceeds one day to raise money for local recreational sports.
A local resident who lives in the mobile home park near Home Depot, complained about the homeless encampment near the mobile home park. She stated that the homeless started a fire which produced so much smoke that she could not breath and had to spend 3 hours in the E.R. She wrote a poem entitled “Nazi Reign”, expressing the sentiment that she believes the city only looks out for the interests of those with money and that people like her who live in a mobile home park are often ignored. Another resident sent a written comment also complaining about the homeless near the park, and how they recently destroyed a fence and that residents find used needles and other items around the area.
Homeless Encampment Relocation Options
The encampment in question was the subject of a presentation by Police Chief Gary Brizzee
outlining the problems surrounding the matter and discussion by the council. Several long-term solutions were proposed such as Project Home Key and permanent shelter, but the focus during the meeting was on an immediate, temporary solution. Brizzee said the city needs to move the encampment to a property that the city owns and is zoned for residential use. After eliminating all of the unqualified parcels, the remaining areas were all in the downtown area. Councilman Jones asserted that the solution lies in more personal and better enforcement of the city’s codes.
Approve $2.2 Million for City Projects
On the consent agenda several budget items were approved unanimously totaling over $2.1 million They include $585,731.27 for a contract with McElvany Inc. for the Community Center Parking Lot Improvement Project, $1,454,905 for a contract with Mid Cal Pipeline & Utilities, Inc. for the replacement of the fairgrounds area waterline from a six-inch to an eight-inch line and $19,000 for the purchase of scoreboards at Colorado Ballpark.
District 4 Councilwoman Deborah Lewis tried to eliminate the $64,973 for a contract with AD ART, Inc. for the construction of a new digital welcome sign, but the motion died without a second. Jones then moved approval, District 1 Councilman Refugio LLamas seconded the motion, and they were joined by Lambert in voting to approve the funds for the sign.
Downtown Archway Project Moves Forward
Additionally, Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Souza-Elms reported that an agreement has been reached between O’Reilly Auto Enterprises LLC and the city regarding the location of the downtown archway. Construction of the archway was approved at a previous meeting which would be built across 6th Street on the north side of Pacheco Blvd. but the agreement was one of the obstacles delaying it from proceeding.
Asked when the project will be built, Souza-Elms replied, “The timing is approximately Spring/Summer 2023 for installation. The project will be going out to bid in a few weeks.”
Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.