At its June 12 meeting, the Los Banos Planning Commission approved a food permit for a new taco vendor, and Justin Ragunton gave his first staff report as the city’s new Assistant Planner.

Commission Chair John Cates was on vacation, leaving Vice Chair Christopher Perrecone to lead the meeting. He led a quorum of commissioners that included Kathy Uhley, Rob Robinson and Elias Reyes.

The taco vendor is Tacos La Reina, owned by Gabriela Mejia Gomez. According to Ragunton’s report, the vendor will operate at  330 W. Pacheco Blvd., next to America Best Value Inn, west of Rooney’s Liquor and across the street from Eddie’s Famous Cafe and Baskin Robbins.

Tacos La Reina will operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each week out of a trailer. There was a previous vendor at the site, Tacos La Patrona, whose owner  canceled his business license. A CEQA exemption was given for accessory structures.

According to Ragunton’s report, there are 22 other mobile food vendors in Los Banos, only eight of which operate on city roads. The others, like Tacos La Reina, operate at specific sites and on private property. On social media, Tacos La Reina has posted items they will serve, including tacos, tortas, asada fries, nachos, burritos and chilaquiles.

David Torres Mejia, the son of the applicant Gabriela Mejia Gomez, said, “It’s been a dream of hers to open her own food place for a long time.” Mejia said that his own dream has “always been to own a restaurant, and I think this is a small step up towards that.” Mejia also showed commissioners the newly wrapped trailer from his phone, prompting praise from the commission. “The looks good,” said Uhley.

Ragunton’s report was his first as the city’s assistant planner. Previously he had been a planning technician. Los Banos Fire Chief Paul Tualla made an appearance in the beginning of the meeting to support Ragunton.

Filling Ragunton’s old role as planning secretary on interim duty during the meeting was city Administrative Clerk Haley Leonard. Trisha Soba, a part-time administrative clerk, was also in attendance. “So we have the whole department here tonight,” said Los Banos Community and Economic Development Director Stacy Elms in her report. “We’re a lean, mean little team.”

Also in her report, Elms highlighted that the next meeting would include a cottage food permit, a mobile food vendor permit and an “exciting” tentative parcel map to subdivide the southwest corner of the Ward Road and Pacheco Boulevard intersection for future commercial development.

During the public forum, Blanche Jorge spoke for the Friends of Los Banos Animals partnership with Feral Freedom Northern California and the Los Banos Animal Shelter. Jorge reported that the partnership spayed “48 dogs, seven cats, and six cats that were homeless” just that day as part of a program they do every two weeks.

Jorge also spoke for the Elks Lodge, inviting the commission to celebrate Flag Day. Blanche also highlighted the Elks’ role in making Flag Day a holiday.

In their commissioner reports Uhley, Reyes and Robinson congratulated Raguntin on his new position. “You do a great job,” Reyes said. He also thanked Jorge for her work, “I know that’s not easy.”

Commissioners also congratulated Tacos La Reina. Robinson said, “I’m looking forward to buying tacos there.” Robinson also thanked Elms and her staff for their work.

Javier Powell