Discussions on the Catarina Estates infill project and Walker Park improvements were the main focus on the Feb. 2 Zoom meeting. The Catarina Estates will be located south of H Street, West of Joy Drive and just north of the Galt Cemetery. Sixty-one single family homes are planned for the project on 12.4 acres and council members had a chance to see more details and ask questions about the development.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project to go forward to the City Council on Jan. 14. A General Plan Amendment will need a change from R1A Zoning, which is low density, to R2, which is medium density. Low density has a minimum lot size of 6,500 square feet while the medium density designation has a minimum of 5,500 square feet for each lot.
Mayor Shawn Farmer said he realizes the density is higher but the location of this project makes it realistic.
“I get it that people are generally opposed to smaller lots but, with the proximity to Old Town, a higher density makes sense,” Farmer said.
Farmer then asked what the square footage of the homes would be.
Aiden Berry, representing the developer, responded that homes could range from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet.
“These are the sweet spots for three- and four-bedroom homes,” Berry said.
Community Planning Director Craig Hoffman said the higher density was a good fit for Galt since the state is requiring more diverse housing to be included in each municipality.
Councilmember Jay Vandenburg and Vice Mayor Paul Sandhu commented on the transition area that includes the intersection on H Street to 4th, crossing F Street. Farmer also had comments.
“We’ve been discussing the walkability and proximity to Old Town of this project,” Farmer said. “I think the critical part of this is that transition. That’s a dangerous intersection. It’s hard to see people coming over the tracks; pedestrians have been killed there over the past few years. We have to be looking at this seriously.”
Hoffman said the Council would be presented a report on this intersection in coming months. Farmer wanted to know if the developer was aware of the concerns.
“We hear you loud and clear,” Berry said.
The design for these homes will include minimizing the elevation of garages and to encourage walking and neighbor relations, and front porches will be included.
“The Planning Commission wants to ensure that the project is designed to enhance the walkability to downtown and would suggest that home designs include enhanced front porches to further create a neighborhood feel that may also enhance walkability,” said the report from city staff.
The Psomas design team gave a PowerPoint presentation on the five design concepts they developed for the Walker Park upgrades. Senior Civil Engineer Trung Trinh said the grant of $1.7 million stipulates the project must be completed in this calendar year.
The recreational goals included having three ball fields with increased lengths, additional walking paths and passive play areas.
Infrastructure goals included additional restrooms and more parking.
Financial goals were to have the ball fields together for league play and complete the whole project within this year.
Sandhu asked why only one option was being considered when the design team came up with five.
Hoffman responded that, in ordered to stay within the confines of the 2004 plans and environmental study, Option 1 was the best choice.
City resident Joe Bitondo sent a letter in regard to the Walker Park Improvement project. Bitondo said he’s lived in Galt for 30 years and served on the Parks and Recreation Committee for a number of years.
“I urge the commission to send the Walker Park Master plan back to the drawing board,” said Bitondo in his letter. “A vast majority of the sports fields in this town are fenced off and locked away from the people they are intended to serve. It is no wonder people are constantly breaking into the turf field at Walker to play soccer or football.”
Bitondo asked why eight sports facilities are currently closed.
“Now we are going to build three more baseball diamonds that will be fenced off along with all of the other sports fields in this city?” said Bitondo.
Councilmember Rich Lozano appointed Bob Wilson to the Commission on Aging and Councilmember Kevin Papineau appointed Amarjit (Amy) Sandhu to the Beautification Committee.