City Council gives updates on homeless encampment, January 18th

On January 20, 2023 by Javier Powell, Reporter

During the relatively short meeting of the Los Banos City Council on January 18th, the city appointed its representative to the PBID,  appointed three commissioners, and appointed council member Jones to represent the City council at the Downtown Property and Business Improvement District. The slow cleanup of the homeless encampment was a major topic.

Public Forum

The Public Forum was the first major agenda item. Shandra Lewis and Kacey Miller mentioned the slow cleanup of the homeless encampment, both felt unheard and unnoticed that 6 weeks after the vote no action had been taken. Michelle Sandoval, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce thanked the community for their support at the Planet Fitness ribbon cutting and highlighted future commerce events. Kathy Ballard hoped that the city council would choose someone else to represent them at the PBID, called the proposed archway for downtown premature while it wasn’t yet improved, and expressed concern over the consulting costs for the recruitment of a new city manager. The Boys & Girls Club of Los Banos and Merced, represented by Ms. Blanche announced that they have been given 93,000 pounds of food cans from Dole for anyone in need.

Continuing on the topic of the homeless, Blanche mentioned an app from Cincinnati, Ohio that calls homeless representatives to the site of the homeless or anyone in danger of becoming homeless. Jacqueline Lawrence, a resident since 1968, also brought up an idea- pods and small homes for the homeless to start reintegrating into society. Paul Llanez pitched in, mentioning the major hiccup with the homeless encampment being the weather.

Consent Agenda

Then, in the Consent Agenda portion of the meeting, minutes for previous meetings were approved, the check register between the dates 12/19/2022 and 1/6/2023 was accepted, and the ability of legislative bodies in the city to use remote teleconferencing was extended. The total amount in the mentioned Register is $2,904,067.57.


Next, City Council Member Brett Jones was re-appointed to represent the City on the Los Banos Downtown Property and Business Improvement District Board for a term of two years. Before Jones’ appointment, Deborah Lewis expressed a desire for the process to be rotational to give all council members a voice at the PBID. Gary Munoz was appointed to the Parks & Recreation Commission for a two-year term. For the planning commission, Clarence Robinson was appointed to District Two and will serve a four-year term, and Elias Reyes was appointed as “At-Large” for a term of two years.


Interim City Manager Stacy Elms in her report announced that she had given birth and gave updates on the homeless encampment and ARPA Loans. She deferred to Police Sergeant Ray Reyna, who then explained that the flooding is what has slowed the process of the cleanup. The equipment could get stuck in the muck as they execute the arduous task of cleaning up the mess left by the encampment. Regarding ARPA, Ms. Elms mentioned that applications may be occurring very soon, and small businesses could apply to receive the loans when they do.

City Council

            Deborah Lewis reported for the air pollution section that Frito-Lay and Pepsi Co. corporations held an event in Modesto celebrating their 0-mission commitment, purchase of non-gas delivery vehicles like Tesla Semi-trucks, and receiving 17 million in grants to continue bringing down their emissions

            Deborah Lewis in her city council report mentioned that dry days were upcoming to possibly get the ball rolling on removing the homeless encampment. She also urged that the hiring of a Homeless Housing Director happen as fast as possible.

            Douglas Begonia Jr. in his city council report apologized to concerned members of his district for not reaching out regarding the homeless encampment and the progress in dismantling it.

            During his report, Mayor Llanez wants to open up appointments for members of the public to speak with him about their concerns. Llanez also gave an offer- he would donate his paycheck as mayor to any 501c3 charities and non-profit organization. He wants more of these organizations to come up during council meetings to make themselves known to the community.

Closed Session

            During the Closed Session, a few topics were discussed. Two potential legal cases were discussed with legal counsel. The recruitment of a new City Manager was once again discussed. A labor discussion was held between unrepresented miscellaneous employees, Finance Director Kuhn, and City Attorney Vaughn. There was nothing to report after the conclusion.

            The next city council meeting will be held on the First of February 2023

Filed under: Community, Government

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