A recent collision sparked a conversation on traffic safety at the Aug. 17 meeting of the Galt City Council. City staff and consultants also presented a report on the revisions to the housing element of the city’s General Plan.

Traffic safety

During public comment, Kim Morris, who lives on the corner of Elk Hills Drive and Marengo Road, recalled in detail her experience on Aug. 7 when she and her husband arrived home to find remnants of a sound wall in their front yard and a truck being dragged away.

The truck and another car, traveling north on Marengo Road, had collided with the sound wall next to the property, scattering concrete bricks and damaging Morris’ house. No one was home at the time.

“I entered my daughter’s bedroom to find pictures knocked off her walls and a cup of water knocked off of her bed stand,” Morris said. “What if she had been sleeping there in that moment?”

Morris recounted previous crashes in the intersection, saying it is “not safe.”

“How is the city going to ensure our safety from being struck by one of the hundreds of speeding cars going by or by one of the reckless drivers doing doughnuts along all the thoroughfares from Marengo?” she said.

Morris asked whether the city had considered installing stop signs, traffic lights or speed bumps on Marengo.

Local resident Timothy Reid also spoke about the importance of traffic safety. He said the city should hire an additional traffic officer and develop a “maximum traffic-enforcement strategy.”

Addressing the comments, City Manager Lorenzo Hines said October will be an “unofficial Traffic Safety Month” that involves public outreach and presentations to Council. He added that city staff would take traffic counts on the northeast side of Galt and share that data with the public.

On Oct. 5, Public Works Director Mike Selling will give a “Traffic 101” presentation on traffic controls and measurements, and the legal considerations involved in implementing them. The Oct 19 Council meeting will include a discussion on the intersection of Carillion Boulevard and Vauxhall Avenue.

Housing Element

Community Development Director Craig Hoffman and representatives from consulting firm Mintier Harnish presented revisions to Galt’s updated housing element, prepping Council to vote on whether to finalize the document next month. Some Council members aired their frustrations with the state regulations.

Intended to prompt municipalities to identify and plan for their housing needs, the housing element focuses on improving the amount of access to affordable housing, as well as removing governmental constraints on housing development and creating equitable housing opportunities.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) recently responded to Galt’s draft housing plan with comments and suggested revisions. Hoffman said the comments largely requested information on the city’s housing needs, resources and constraints; its housing programs; and its justification for predicted housing production.

Galt’s Residential Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), which establishes a quota of housing units for the city to allow for, jumped drastically from 679 units to 1,926. City staff managed to account for almost all of this with developments already in the pipeline.

In light of that accomplishment, Council Member Rich Lozano said Galt had fared better than he expected.

Mayor Shawn Farmer expressed frustration with the regulatory emphasis on affordable housing, saying the lack of affordable units is caused by California’s regulations.

The current state administration has focused on affordable housing, Lozano noted later, but he called unfunded state mandates “horrible.”

A rise in multigenerational households also came up. Hoffman said meeting changing housing demand would be “the greatest challenge in the coming eight years.”

Tom Malson

Council members voted to table the reappointment of Tom Malson to the Sacramento Environmental Commission after being made aware of a social media post by the former Council member.

In the post on the Nextdoor app for Emerald Park, Malson shared a photograph that appears to show a woman and her dog standing on a front lawn.

“Dogs. People who let their dog crap on my front lawn get their picture posted!!” the post read, according to a screenshot.

The tabling gives time for City Manager Lorenzo Hines to reach out to Malson and report on the situation at the Sept. 7 Council meeting.

Other business

• Council voted 5-0 to annex the Cardoso II development, marketed as Seasons at the Farm, into Community Facilities District (CFD) 2020-1. It is the fourth subdivision to be added to the CFD.

• Council Member Jay Vandenburg was unanimously selected as Galt’s delegate to the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo, which takes place in Sacramento on Sept. 22, 23 and 24. The delegates will vote on two resolutions related to sales-tax distribution and railroad maintenance. Farmer, who attended last year’s conference, called it “a great experience.”