Over the course of a marathon five-hour meeting, the Galt City Council discussed proposals related to the Galt Market, smoke-free housing and garbage processing.

Galt Market weekend hours

In a presentation to Council at its Sept. 21 meeting, City Manager Lorenzo Hines proposed testing the viability of weekend operations with a “pilot” program of smaller-scale markets.

Hines’ recommendation came after city staff conducted an analysis of competition from other area flea markets and of Galt Market vendors’ interest in weekend hours. Council did not take formal action on the item.

Citing financial calculations that suggest the city would need to charge higher rates than some other markets to break even on weekends, and noting a number of “unknowns” with a full expansion, Hines said a smaller venture would reveal whether vendors and the public are truly interested in the concept.

The competitor analysis included four markets in the region: Denio’s Farmers Market & Swap Meet in Roseville, the San Jose Flea Market, and the Wilton Way Flea Market and Delta College Flea Market in Stockton.

In contrast to the Galt Market, which is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, all four markets have weekend hours. Each competing market has a different price structure, but their basic daily rate for vendors ranged from $20 to $35 on weekends.

The staff also surveyed Galt Market vendors, customers and employees. Out of 102 vendors interviewed, about 61% said they would be interested in a weekend market; an additional 27% said maybe. Nearly 80% already sell at other markets on weekends, mainly at Denio’s and Wilton Way.

Out of 112 Galt Market customers who were surveyed, 88% said they would attend a weekend market.

Staff attempted to get input from residents of the area around the market, but Hines said no one responded to the city’s flyers. A social media survey received 98 responses, with 97% support for a weekend market.

Assuming, based on the survey results, that only 61% of the market’s vendors would attend weekends, Hines projected the financial outcome of a year’s worth of weekend operations at different price points.

The calculations suggested that the weekend market would lose money at a daily vendor rate of $20 or $25, but that it would turn a profit at $35, which is on the high end of the competing markets.

“We have to consider whether or not those vendors that currently work with our market and work with some of these other markets are willing to make that transition to the weekend, or is our market attractive enough to attract new vendors and attractive enough to entice people to actually come out to the market,” Hines said.

Mayor Shawn Farmer said the small-scale concept isn’t ambitious enough to address a long-term decline in revenue at the market, a major source of funding for Galt’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Farmer compared the Galt Market favorably with the competitors, citing its “iconic name” and the fact that it is older than most of them. He also thought the attendance projections were too conservative.

“I think that the staff report is very skewed to say, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do this because of whatever,’” Farmer said. He noted that the market is projected to start losing money in the near future.

“Although we risk a million dollars by doing something here, what I say to that is, we risk a lot more by doing nothing,” Farmer continued.

Hines denied that the report was “skewed toward failure,” saying the “seeds of success are there.”

Council Member Kevin Papineau was “encouraged” by the amount of feedback to the attendee and vendor surveys, but both he and Council Member Rich Lozano were dismayed by the lack of response to the neighborhood survey. Papineau said it would be important to coordinate with police to handle traffic on days when a weekend market could coincide with sporting events.

Lozano suggested placing banners outside the market grounds to inform residents on how to comment. He urged finding a focus for the weekend market and said he appreciated staff’s conservative financial outlook.

Council Member Jay Vandenburg, whose suggestion in April led to the staff report, agreed on the conservative projections. He said the city should make a clear commitment to vendors.

“I think they need the commitment from us in order to make an investment in their business,” Vandenburg said, continuing that the city can plan for a year of weekend markets and, if the venture starts to fail, stop the weekend operations to cut losses.

Farmer recommended kicking off weekend markets with a “grand opening”-like event and offering incentives for vendors to show up.

Smoke-free housing

Members of the Galt Youth Commission and representatives of two antismoking organizations presented to Council in favor of an ordinance banning smoking in multifamily housing.

The commission first agreed to work toward an ordinance in March 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic put the project on hold.

“We are here today to address the harms of secondhand smoke exposure and how a smoke-free multiunit-housing policy can protect the health and wellbeing of multiunit-housing residents in Galt,” said Ariana Ponce, a program coordinator with the Health Education Council’s “LUCHA Tabaco” initiative.

Ponce was joined by Marissa Greenband of Breathe California’s Sacramento branch, and youth commissioners Alexa Murillo Cuevas and Ysabella Sosa.

In the presentation, Ponce stated that 87% of multiunit housing residents do not smoke and stressed, “the surgeon general has found that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Murillo Cuevas added that secondhand smoke could travel through vents, windows, cracks in walls and other “places we may not have thought it could travel through.” Sosa said a “just society” would not expose its citizens to excess health risks.

Smoke-free ordinances vary; the sample ordinance provided to council members would make it illegal for a person to smoke tobacco, cannabis or electronic cigarettes on the premises of a multiunit residence. It includes an option to allow smoking outside in designated areas.

Greenband said such ordinances are constitutional and do not prevent people who smoke from living in multiunit housing.

Council members expressed concerns about how an ordinance could affect property owners and worried vulnerable people who smoke may face eviction.

Regarding enforcement, Greenband said smoke-free housing advocates encourage actions other than eviction, as a matter of health equity.

Cal-Waste

In making its case for building a facility to consolidate and sort Galt’s trash, Cal-Waste said a recovery and transfer facility would help it fulfill new state regulations and cushion it against the shifting rates of out-of-town landfills and processors. It would also provide a local place for members of the public to dispose of excess waste.

The facility would be located within city limits near the Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Farmer suggested that he Lozano form an ad hoc committee to go over the proposal with Cal-Waste. At the recommendation of Interim City Attorney Frank Splendorio, the decision was tabled until the Oct. 5 meeting.