The Planning Commission on May 12 affirmed that a list of proposed city projects complies with the general plan. It also discussed a proposed ordinance establishing more local control over accessory dwellings and continued to consider new residential design standards.
The commission voted 4-0 to certify that the 2022-2024 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is consistent with the city’s general plan. Commission Chair Dan Denier was absent.
“The CIP Program takes capital improvements that are identified within the general plan and that are part of our overall infrastructure program,” Community Development Director Craig Hoffman noted. Galt’s CIP is a five-year program of proposed projects that fall under the categories of transportation, water, sewer, drainage and general facility improvements. Projects listed in the CIP are not necessarily funded.
Projects under the General Improvements category include the roof replacement of the Galt-Marian O. Lawrence Library and the police department emergency generator restoration.
Parks and Recreation projects were also on the list. A plan to repair the roof of a Galt Market building was noted to be “on hold pending Market Plan status.” During the discussion, Commissioner Dan Gerling questioned why the roof repair was put on hold for two years.
Hoffman said, “It’s all (about) having the money available to do it.”
A new program in the Water category is a plan to use treated wastewater for winter flooding and irrigation to help reduce groundwater demands as part of the Cosumnes Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Plan.
Additionally, the listing includes improvements to pedestrian crossings on Carillion Boulevard. Approved by Council in November 2021, the project would narrow the lanes in the thoroughfare to reduce traffic speeds and research other safety improvements at pedestrian crossings.
Following the confirmation by the commission, Hoffman will take the CIP to Council on June 2. Council will need to inspect and green light the CIP as part of its budgetary plan. With the council’s consent, the program’s proposals are expected to be completed within the 2-year budgetary time frame.
The commission also discussed a proposed ordinance on accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units. No action was taken, as this agenda item was a study session.
An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is defined as an attached or detached residential dwelling with complete independent living facilities and is located on the same lot as a primary residence.
A junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) is no more than 500 square feet in size, is contained entirely within a single-family home, and includes a small kitchen.
The proposal was spurred by several state laws that limit cities’ ability to regulate the structures. In particular, Assembly Bill (AB) 3182 expands “the scenarios under which the city must allow certain ADUs and JADUs with only a building permit,” according to staff. AB 345 requires cities to allow the separate sale of ADUs under certain conditions.
Hoffman emphasized the necessity for the ordinance, as “Galt is not in the place to just sit back and go, ‘Oh, we’ll just let the state decide what our community looks like.’” The purpose of the ordinance is to prevent the state from removing too much of the city of Galt’s control over how ADUs and JADUs are built. State standards will be applied with “wiggle room” in the proposed ordinance.
The ordinance would also provide guidance to residents and developers looking to build the units as interest in ADUs and JADUs, as well as in more affordable housing, has increased.
Staff said many prospective developers don’t know about the fees associated with ADUs and JADUs. Water fees, school fees and sewage fees, to name a few, are all part of the total development costs. With the ordinance, the fee structure will be more straightforward.
The city’s two recent annexations, where residents aren’t necessarily connected to city infrastructure, provide examples of when ADUs and JADUs are feasible and when they aren’t. Commissioners mentioned both the East Galt Infill Annexation and the County Island. Hoffman noted that smaller properties with outdated septic systems don’t fit ADUs easily, while larger lots with modern septic systems are more appropriate.
After long questioning from the commissioners on what a JADU and ADU could be, the commission requested a public hearing for a set ordinance for June 9. If approved by the commission, the ordinance will then be brought before the City Council for final consideration in July or August.
Continuing a topic from its last meeting, the commissioners discussed a proposed set of residential design standards that would give staff a written source to cite when explaining to developers what features the city values in new construction. The commission did not make a final decision on accepting the guidelines.
Hoffman detailed what considerations the standards emphasize for different types of development, such as single-family housing, multifamily housing and infill. The overarching concepts included developing neighborhoods, integrating open space, and considering the impact of gated communities, as well as respect for the community, general plan and neighborhoods.
Commissioner Keith Jones said the guidelines should be more specific on features the commissioners have favored in previous developments, such as having light fixtures on both sides of a garage door.
Hoffman said a preference like the garage lights “feels very specific to me” and may change based on who is on the commission.
“Don’t undersell Galt. Let’s increase our standards,” Jones said.
In addition, Jones objected to language saying that gated communities “designed to appear as continuous walled-off areas, disconnected and isolated from the rest of the community, are strongly discouraged.”
Hoffman said he would be willing to go over the specifics of the standards with each of the commissioners. The commission voted 4-0 to continue the item until next meeting.