At its July 13 meeting, the Los Banos Planning Commission held a design review study session for a Sunday school building for the Church of Nazarene and approved the site plan for an RF Auto Sales office.

The commission reviewed the design of a 1,500-square-foot, single-story structure to serve as a Sunday school for the Church of Nazarene, located at 1248 Santa Barbara Drive (across the street from Dollar General Market).

Associate Planner Rudy Luquin noted that the design review study session  required the commission only to provide feedback on the architectural elements of the structure, since lighting and landscaping will not be added to the project site.

Commissioner Rob Robinson inquired about the project’s color palette, to which Luquin replied that it will match the surrounding existing structures.

The applicant, Pastor Raul Granillo, present at the meeting, anticipates that this facility will also provide services to the youth, such as after-school care and tutoring.

“We are trying to open up our facility for the community,” Granillo said. “We believe that this will be another way to take what we have and give back.”

“Thank you for what you do for the community,” Commission Chair John Cates said to the applicant, “We definitely appreciate that.”

Regarding another item, the commission approved both an exemption from CEQA and the site plan for the development of a 360-square-foot commercial structure to accommodate an office for RF Auto Sales, a used auto sales business, along with associated site improvements, located at 702 G Street.

This item was continued from the last planning commission meeting as the commission requested a photometric plan of the project’s light dispersion.

“The project site is surrounded by urban development,” the agenda packet specified, “consisting of residential development to the north, commercial to the east, and civic/institutional development (Los Banos Community Center) to the west.”

Luquin noted that the site improvements will include grading, drainage, paving, landscaping and exterior lighting. Located on an approximate 7,500 square foot vacant parcel, the vegetation throughout the undeveloped project site of RF Auto Sales will be removed, according to the agenda packet.

The proposed features of the architecture are complementary to the Community Center, incorporating an angled roof, wood cladding, decorative canopy structures, and a color palette that is consistent with the surrounding structures. The applicant also proposed including a 7-foot-tall decorative wrought iron fence along the perimeter of the property.

As the commission approved the item, Commissioner Katherine Uhley complimented the building’s proposed plan, “I like the design of this; it’s a really clean concept.”

The commission congratulated the applicant and wished him the best.

In her report, Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Souza Elms said that the Church of Nazarene, the Los Banos Community Center, and Los Banos branch of the Merced County Library will serve as cooling centers for the community amidst the excessive heat.

Commissioner Rob Robinson, in his report, noted that there is a lot of activity happening in downtown Los Banos and that he is excited to see its growth.

At the beginning of the commission meeting, during the public forum, Blanch Jorge, a resident of downtown Los Banos, spoke about the potential of downtown Los Banos.

“While some individuals may think that it is very sad that some of our stores have closed downtown, I want to also think about the opportunities that we have for some of the buildings downtown,” Jorge said. Some of the potential shops that Jorge suggested included an employee-owned coffee shop, a Good Neighbor Pharmacy, an antique store and a tutoring business. 

The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for July 26.

Malina Duran

Malina Duran’s email is