During its Nov. 8 meeting, the Los Banos Planning Commission approved the site plan review for a new Starbucks, recommended the city council approve a type 41 alcohol license for Biggins Texas BBQ, gave an ice cream truck a mobile food vendor permit and reviewed a trucking company’s parking are plan. With Chairman John Cates absent, Vice-Chair Kathy Uhley led the meeting. Commissioners Elias Reyes, Christopher Perrecone and Rob Robinson formed the quorum. The only item that stirred debate in the public hearings was the 1,275 square-foot Starbucks on 2101 E Pacheco Blvd., planned to be a drive-through only, similar to the Dutch Brothers coffee shop in Los Banos.

According to the developer Jay Virk, the site is planned to be only the second of its design in the Central Valley. Virk also said that this planned fifth Starbucks in town is meant to fill the high demand in Los Banos and bring traffic at other sites down.

Roy Todd, the owner of the AM/PM ARCO gas station and convenience store directly south of the Starbucks site, made his concerns clear about aesthetic matching, trash and bathrooms. Todd felt that the proposed Starbucks should have public bathrooms and trash cans of its own to avoid overflowing the gas station’s very used facilities.

Todd stressed he didn’t want to be an old man “sweeping all day.” Virk confirmed the site would have trash cans but would not have bathrooms, “There are taco trucks,” Virk said, “and are we requiring them to have bathrooms outside? We’re not.”

The aesthetic issues were about matching the surrounding buildings in design and lighting. Virk said he would work with the city to match the lighting of the surrounding areas. Virk and Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Sousa Elms assured the commission that the design of the building has been adapted as much as possible to the surroundings within Starbucks’ corporate design.

The commission approved the Starbucks site, but many more steps and approvals are needed before groundbreaking, and details of the project may change in the coming months.

The commission also responded to a request for a type 41 alcohol license requested by Biggins Texas BBQ, owned by City Councilmember Kenneth Lambert. According to Associate Planner Rudy Luquin’s report, the license would allow the sale of beer and wine.

The commission gave the restaurant a CEQA exemption on existing facilities grounds and recommended the approval of the license to the city council. It will be up to the council to approve the license. This would be the 13th restaurant in the city with an alcohol license.

The planning commissioners also approved a mobile food vendor permit for California Del Sur, owned by Roman Huerta. The ice cream truck has distinctive SpongeBob characters on its exterior. The truck was also given a CEQA exemption.

Frugal Logistics, a truck company, had its site plan reviewed by the commission for improvements to its parking area at 2532 E Pacheco Blvd. According to Luquin’s report, it would include paving, stormwater retention, and drainage.

Javier Powell