At its March 15 meeting the Los Banos Council was updated on the implementation of the General Plan Housing Element and approved the revised budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which included increasing appropriations in the wastewater funds in response to the Cresthills sanitary sewer incident by the CCID Main Canal.
An annual progress report was presented by Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Elms on the City of Los Banos General Plan Housing Element. This mandatory report allowed staff to update the City Council on the implementation of the housing element and ensure eligibility for state grant funding.
In her presentation, Elms explained that while the city provided sufficient housing to meet the needs of above-moderate-income levels for single family residential dwelling units, there is still a deficiency in meeting the requirement for very low-, low-, and moderate-income levels.
Elms reported there must be 1,314 housing units provided for very low-, low-, and moderate-income levels in order to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) requirements. To meet the quota, staff will try to work with and encourage affordable housing developers to build for these income levels in Los Banos.
In response to Councilmember Deborah Lewis’ inquiry, Stacy said that creating housing for those experiencing homelessness will help meet the RHNA requirements for very low-income levels. Elms added that the newly hired housing program manager will also assist in finding housing for people experiencing homelessness in Los Banos.
The 2022 Annual Report on the Housing Element was approved unanimously by the council.
Interim Finance Director Brent Kuhn presented the mid-year 2022-2023 fiscal year budget review, and the council adopted a revised budget for the fiscal year as it pertains to expenditures and revenues.
The purpose of this presentation, Kuhn explained, was to allow the City Council to review the city’s financial standing in the middle of the fiscal year and review the projected financial position of the general fund at the end of the fiscal year.
According to the city council agenda packet, “General Fund Revenues are projected to end the fiscal year $750,000 over the current budget. The primary driver of the increase in revenues is a continued growth in both sales tax and property tax revenue projections.”
In addition to increasing the General Fund expenditures by $723,667, staff also requested to increase Special Revenue Fund expenditures by $271,434, Capital Project Fund expenditures by $165,000, Enterprise Fund expenditures by $409,621 and Internal Service Fund expenditures by $111,210.
The revised budget was approved unanimously by the council.
Approved among the consent agenda was amending the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget by increasing appropriations in the Wastewater Fund for expenditures of $870,000 for the response to the Cresthills Sanitary Sewer Incident. This item referred to the sewer line that broke under the Central California Irrigation District (CCID) Main Canal east of Center Avenue on January 20, 2023.
According to the city council agenda packet, on Jan. 20 at 2:30 p.m. a California Department of Fish and Wildlife warren reported to city staff the presence of dead fish and an odor coming from the CCID Main Canal. A sinkhole at the toe of the canal slope indicated a leak in the 10-inch sewer force main (a pressurized sewer pipe that conveys wastewater) that crosses underneath the canal.
“The city,” the report continued, “immediately mobilized staff to begin activities to shut off the Cresthills Sewer Pump Station, isolate the leak, install a bypass pipeline and begin dewatering and excavation work necessary to complete a repair.”
It was estimated that over 1,000 gallons of sewage was drained into other waters. The release of sewage stopped at 3:58 p.m. that same day and as of Feb. 23 normal operations of the canal have been resumed.
During the public forum at the beginning of the council meeting, Jeff De La Cruz, government teacher from Pacheco High School, attending the meeting with a portion of his class, shared that he is having his students attend a city council meeting so that they can experience how their local government operates and directly affects them. “Tonight, and in the future, I will be bringing students to watch,” De La Cruz said.
De la Cruz added that he wants to see sports complexes built in Los Banos for youth athletics and the community at large. De la Cruz recalled a valuable piece of advice he received from a friend about bringing up children: “You keep them on the court to keep them out of court.”
In his report at the end of the meeting, Mayor Paul Llanez thanked City Manager Josh Pinheiro and Fire Chief Paul Tualla for opening the warming centers during the rainstorm.