The Galt City Council has agreed on multiple votes and actions to address traffic concerns along Carillion Boulevard. The Oct. 19 regular meeting included steps to comply with a state organic-waste law and public comment on mask requirements in the city’s youth basketball program.

Carillion traffic safety

Carillion Boulevard may be re-striped to narrow the lanes and encourage slower driving, depending on how Council members vote at the next meeting. The item was one of several immediate proposals for assuaging area residents’ concerns about the safety of the road, particularly at its intersection with Vauxhall Avenue.

The Nov. 2 meeting will also bring a vote on signage changes (to be developed by staff) that are not tied to measured traffic conditions. In the meantime, City Manager Lorenzo Hines said, the city would put out radar speed trailers and work with the Galt Police Department to up enforcement on the road.

The decisions do not include the four-way stop at Vauxhall advocated by many nearby residents, as existing data on Carillion traffic does not meet the threshold for a stop sign.

Discussion of how to handle the thoroughfare began with a presentation from Deputy Public Works Director Mark Clarkson, who described the city’s assessment of traffic conditions on Carillion.

A 2018 speed study found that 85% of drivers traveled at or slower than 44 mph on the road, which has a speed limit of 45 mph. Speed limits are commonly based on the “85th percentile” of driver speed.

The arterial road has seen 18 crashes since 2018, Clarkson said, with “a little more than half” occurring at the intersection of Carillion and Twin Cities Road. The remainder took place at Carillion’s intersections with Walnut and Lake Park avenues.

Most of the collisions were caused by someone failing to stop or yield at an intersection, and none involved cyclists or pedestrians.

Additionally, staff cut back the vegetation at the Vauxhall intersection to improve visibility.

Many traffic controls, such as stop signs and traffic lights, are governed by “warrants,” thresholds of road conditions that indicate a control device may be justified.

A staff report provided to Council noted that traffic volume on Carillion is relatively low, leaving “sufficient gaps in the traffic for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists to safely enter or cross Carillion Boulevard.” Citing the low crash rate, it stated “all of the intersections are currently operating safely and efficiently.”

As a result, the report found that the street does not meet the warrants for a four-way stop.

The report recommended reducing the width of the lanes on Carillion by re-striping the road and installing radar speed signs, then analyzing the impact of these measures on traffic.

Narrower lanes cause drivers to slow down by giving the impression of less space, Clarkson said.

Galt Mayor Shawn Farmer said that not all intersections on Carillion have the same issues, continuing that Vauxhall presents difficulties for motorists trying to turn onto Carillion. He felt that Lake Canyon Avenue and Elk Hills Drive were more problematic for pedestrians trying to get to schools.

Vice Mayor Paul Sandhu disagreed with the idea that the Carillion intersections are functioning “safely,” citing a petition by residents near Carillion and Vauxhall that said Carillion “has become a raceway for many dirivers.”

Two public commenters shared divergent opinions about the issue. Jerry Sauter said he lives off of Vauxhall and Carillion and felt a stop sign would create traffic noise; controls like speed lumps and stop signs also run counter to the purpose of Carillion as an arterial road, Sauter said.

Predeep Virk cautioned against using data gathered during the coronavirus pandemic and spoke about her difficulties turning onto Carillion.

Ultimately, Council agreed to bring the re-striping back for a vote, and it asked staff to develop signage changes to encourage slower driving.

Organic-waste recycling

To adhere to a law mandating a 75% statewide reduction in organic waste ending up in landfills, Council voted 5-0 to begin the process of amending the city’s solid waste ordinance.

Previous legislation required businesses to have organics recycling programs and, in 2016, Senate Bill (SB) 1383 passed, extending the mandate to residential areas.

The revised ordinance has additional definitions related to organic waste and details requirements for processing organics. It will have a second reading at the Nov. 2 Council meeting for final approval.

Organic waste comprises food waste and green waste. Cal-Waste already provides Galt residents with a cart for the latter category, but the former currently goes into the trash cart. Cal-Waste will need to decide whether to have residents put food waste in with the green waste, put it into a bag that is picked up with the green waste cart, or use a fourth cart dedicated to food waste.

The choice may be influenced by global supply chain backups, Public Works Director Mike Selling said. City Attorney Frank Splendorio added that, even if the backlogs delay implementation, a new law will allow the city to avoid state intervention if it shows plans to finish by March 2022.

Farmer and Council Member Rich Lozano were unanimously voted onto an ad hoc committee to discuss the details of this change with Cal-Waste.

Masks in basketball

During public comment on the COVID-19 update, Ryan Montgomery denounced the requirement that players in the city’s youth basketball program wear masks.

“Making school age children wear a mask while playing basketball is insane and a huge liability,” Montgomery said, adding that he knows “tons of people” who have pulled their children out of the league because of the policy.

Public commenter Kellie Gorelick previously brought up the issue at the Oct. 5 meeting.

Council members pointed to Sacramento Kings games, during which players do not wear masks.

Hines, as well as Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis, said the policy is set by Sacramento County, and they agreed to seek more information on apparent “inconsistencies” in mask requirements.

Committee items

The Measure R Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee has a full slate of members after Council voted to appoint Linda Clendenin and James Connick. Farmer encouraged a third applicant, Richard Hartley, to reapply if any new openings come up.

Beautification Committee Member Gale Webber presented the body’s annual report. Webber noted that the coronavirus prevented the committee from meeting until February, but she highlighted the group’s work planning street cleanups and creating the Nominate Your Neighbor initiative.