At its July 5 meeting, the Los Banos City Council heard an extensive report on the city’s current street and pavement conditions. It also approved a Type 21 alcohol license for Beverage House, received an annual report from Merced County Association of Governments and recognized Westside Union Elementary School.

City Engineer and Public Works Director Nirorn Than, leading the report on the State of the Streets and Pavement Condition, described the presentation as an “exciting topic and most anticipated report.”

In the introduction of the report, Than explained that the Pavement Management Program is a systematic process that is used to oversee the city’s paved surfaces and to ensure that the city continuously improves their roads through maintenance and repair.

To assess the condition of a paved surface, a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) is used, which is a numerical rating system between 0 and 100, with 0 being a failed road and 100 being a new road.  

According to the agenda packet, the current overall PCI rating for the city’s 27 million square feet of pavement (about 468 football fields) is 50, with more than 40 percent of the roads rated as poor or very poor. While the percentage of good roads increased by about 24 percent since 2018, the percentage of roads in satisfactory and fair condition dropped by 28 percent.

At the same time, the percentage of roads in poor condition increased by 10 percent. “From 2018 to 2023, our PCI has decreased 9 points,” the agenda packet noted.

To help mitigate further decline in roads, city staff provided the council with five sample funding scenarios and the corresponding average PCI after 5 years.

“In general, with the funding that we have, about $2.5 million, we can stay constant at our [current] PCI for the next five years,” Than said. “However, if we want to improve our road conditions, we need to start investing and increasing that funding.”

Instead of choosing from the sample funding scenarios, staff requested that the council provide direction to further evaluate a sustainable funding scenario that would yield the best PCI result.

The council also approved a categorical exemption from theCalifornia Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and a Type 21 alcohol license for Beverage House, located at 547 West I Street (across from Memorial Hospital). The Type 21 general alcohol license, an expansion of the previous Type 20 beer and wine license, permits the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits for consumption off of the premises.

The previous site of Beverage House, Circle K, operated 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The property owners of Beverage House, conducting business 7 days a week from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m., adjusted their hours for public safety and “to be more neighborhood friendly,” as stated by Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Elms.

Elms added that the applicant, Nisqualli Station Inc., is proposing to improve the appearance of the building as well as revitalize and enhance the current landscaping. Steve Rawlings, representing the applicant, shared that the operators are excited to be in the City of Los Banos and that they are “committed to carrying a lot of fresh foods and becoming more of a community market.” The applicant, according to Rawlings, has purchased several former Circle Ks throughout California.

Before the council approved the item, Councilmember Brett Jones complimented the renderings of the proposed site and infrastructure improvements.

The council also received the annual update from Merced County Association of Governments. Presenting the update was MCAG Executive Director Stacie Guzman.

Guzman explained that MCAG Measure V provides funding for transportation needs in the county and reported that Measure V had generated almost $27 million in revenue county-wide from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. Los Banos received nearly $1.4 million of this total.

Furthermore, from a five-year period of April 1, 2017, to June 30, 2022, Measure V’s countywide cumulative revenue was $111 million. Los Banos received $7,186,039 for transportation funding in those five fiscal years, Guzman said.

Guzman also reported that Measure V provided 156,260 free rides to seniors, veterans, and Americans with Disability Act eligible passengers in one fiscal year. In the conclusion of her presentation, Guzman said that residents can view Measure V activity and information on the MCAG Website.

During the council meeting, certificates of recognition were awarded to Westside Union Elementary School students and staff for participation and achievements at the National Academic Pentathlon. Students recognized were Max Menefee, Siena Halloran, Reese Betschart, Ward Saeb, Delia Perez, Jorge Olivares and teacher/coach Tammy Schultz.

The city council meeting scheduled for Aug. 16 was cancelled due to summer break.

Malina Duran

Malina Duran’s email is