Appoints commissioners, provides more water to Pacheco Park
By Javier A. Powell, Reporter
Neither rain, nor wind nor dark of night will keep the Los Banos City Council from doing their business. So, in spite of the stormy night of Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 2023, during their packed-to-the-brim meeting, they voted to continue COVID-19 emergency virtual meetings, appoint city committee members and connect Pacheco Park to city water. The Council recognized many committee members and Employees of the Year and Month for December for their dedication to the city. The Council also approved a beer and wine license for a new restaurant.
At the beginning of the meeting, two city employees were recognized for their service in the meeting. Police Sergeant Ivan Mendez won Employee of the Year 2022 for his outstanding performance and dedication to the community. Employee of the Month was awarded to Accounting Clerk II, Kelsey Daguerre for her dedication in the Finance Department. Nine city commissioners were recognized for their service to the community: David Anderson, Larry Leonardo, David King, Richard Stewart, Gerald Giesel, Tom Neeb, Gary Munoz, Clarence Robinson, and finally John Cates. MLK Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 16 was recognized in a proclamation.
Proceeding into the packed public forum, many members of the community expressed their support for the pickleball project, with a few bringing up budgetary concerns. The homeless encampment continued to be in the spotlight as neighbors appreciated the closing of the encampment but also reported two stolen cars. The Chamber of Commerce provided a report showing how during the pandemic they lost many members and are actively growing back to pre-pandemic levels. Residents also brought up the lack of commercial and recreation throughout the city to meet the growing demand.
“To date we have had nothing added in almost 15 years, but houses,” Anna McCollie stated.
During the Consent Agenda items considered routine to the council are voted on in a block unless removed for a separate vote. All the consent items on the agenda were approved by the City Council on a unanimous vote.
Due to COVID-19 an amendment to the Ralph M. Brown Act open meeting law allows virtual meetings of the city council and other city legislative bodies during a state of emergency until Jan. 1, 2024. In order to continue its current practice, the council, in compliance with the law, voted to extended it for another 30 days.
Richard Stewart and Nathan Mancebo were appointed to the Measure P Citizens Oversight Committee to ensure the proper use of the 2004 special half-cent sales tax for police and fire service.
The Pacheco Park Irrigation Improvements Project was allocated $84,170 more in the 2022-23 fiscal year budget to connect it to the city water system. The park surprisingly has only one water source, a well in the LBUSD-owned Loftin Stadium. With the new renovations at the stadium, the well is due to be decommissioned and the $84K will go to connecting the city’s water system to the parks.
Approves Beer & Wine License for New Restaurant
The council also approved a beer and wine license for a new Vietnamese food restaurant, Noodles Pho U, at the former location of Ming’s at 435 Pacheco Blvd. at the corner of Paradise Lane which closed in 2013.
City Project Updates
City staff gave updates on the Pickleball Court Project where ARPA funding will be used to construct up to six pickleball courts in Cresthills Park, aimed at satisfying an active entertainment need for seniors and adults with an increasingly popular sport. Originally allocated $600K for the courts, Cala Landscape and Architecture however has estimated the total cost to be $1,342,845 to provide the highest quality construction and lighting. City staff has given two non-delay options; proceed with the current plan and amend the budget to account for the $766K budget shortfall or reduce scope and still amend the budget to account for the $233K budget shortfall. The third option directs staff to further research and potentially delay the project for another year. The council settled on a fourth option- focus on planning the courts on the Rail Trail to provide a more substantial economic impact.
City staff also gave updates on solar system procurement for the community center and wastewater treatment plant through Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) which will cover the costs of installation. The City will then pay PCE for the electricity generated at a discounted price. The two systems are estimated to save the city $3,442,700 combined over 20 years. The systems are expected to be deployed by Dec 2023.
The City Council then appointed five commissioners, Larry Leonardo and David Anderson to the Airport Advisory Commission with terms of two years, Brad Gargano and Shamar Pierce to the Parks and Recreation Commission with terms lasting two years, and John Cates to the Planning Commission with a term of four years.
During the closed session, two items of importance were discussed. The first was a conference with legal counsel on the potential litigation that the city may face from one possible case. The second item was the recruitment of a permanent city manager. But there was no reportable action from the closed session.
The next city council meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 18.