Los Banos

Steakhouse planned in Los Banos

Los Banos is poised to have a new steakhouse by June.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended approval of a beer and wine license for LB Steakhouse. The matter will go to the City Council in coming weeks for final approval.

LB Steakhouse will be located at 1639 E. Pacheco Blvd. The site had been home to Chalet Basque, Jo Bones Smokehouse & BBQ Co., The Seafood House Restaurant & Fish Market and, most recently, Takoolu Restaurant. The building has been vacant since 2010.

Carlos Ruiz, a chef from Hollister and owner of LB Steakhouse, said he moved to to Los Banos four months ago and believes the city is in need of a fine dining establishment. Ruiz said his business is scheduled to open in late May or early June. He said the business will have 12 employees.

Commission Chairman Tom Spada said he is pleased with the additional jobs the business will provide.

“Twelve new jobs in this town will be a benefit,” Spada said. “And we get more business in this town and utilize a building that hasn’t been used in four years. That’s huge,” Spada said.

Commissioner Arkady Faktorovich asked Ruiz if the four bathrooms in the building are Americans With Disabilities Act compliant. Faktorovich said he is concerned because of the recent closure of Ming’s restaurant due to a letter to the business regarding its noncompliance with the ADA. Ruiz said he’s not concerned because the owner of the building has agreed to make upgrades.

Assistant Planner Stacy Elms said a handful of businesses received letters about ADA noncompliance and every one except Ming’s is planning to comply.

Ruiz said LB Steakhouse’s hours will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 9 p.m. daily.

Architectural board

In other matters, the Planning Commission rebuked plans to create a subcommittee to review architectural designs and aesthetics of residential and commercial developments.

“I don’t understand why we need an advisory committee to an advisory committee to an advisory committee,” Commissioner Susan Toscano said.

City staff drafted an ordinance that would create an advisory panel that would review developers’ plans and recommend landscaping, color scheme and architectural design. The panel would consist of two City Council members (one being an alternate), two Planning Commission members and Elms. The panel would review projects and make recommendations to the Planning Commission. Los Banos currently uses its Project Review Board - consisting of the heads of the police, fire, building and public works departments - and the Community Development Department to perform those duties.

The commission voted 5-2 to recommend denial of the ordinance. Commissioners Todd Baker and Tom Spada were in favor of the architectural panel. Many of their fellow board members said the panel would be tasked with responsibilities that should reside with the Planning Commission.

In his rejection of the majority opinion, Baker said the planners were being childish.

“We’re up here right now like a bunch of kids, ‘This is ours and we need to make the decision,’ ” he said. “What are we scared of? What would it hurt to have a few other people involved in this?”

The commission requested city staff draft an alternative proposal that splits up the architectural design subcommittee’s duties between the Project Review Board and the Planning Commission.