Galt bans car sales on public streets

The Galt Market is held Tuesdays and Wednesdays year round and features vendors, food and fresh produce, drawing approximately 750,000 people every year.
The Galt Market is held Tuesdays and Wednesdays year round and features vendors, food and fresh produce, drawing approximately 750,000 people every year. Ed Andersen

The Galt City Council voted Tuesday to ban parking cars with the intent of selling and advertising them on public streets – a reaction to people who sell their cars on the streets near the city’s popular flea market.

Galt Police Department Chief Tod Sockman spoke at the July 19 meeting of the City Council to propose the ordinance. He said his officers had noticed safety concerns like people walking in the streets to examine cars and drivers taking their eyes off the road to look at cars and write down information from the signs.

“I go out there on Tuesday and Wednesday and I see kids and their families walking around, they’re running all over the place, they’ve got handfuls of stuff they just bought and they’re not holding onto their kids,” Sockman said. “We just want to make that area a little bit safer.”

In addition to the safety concerns, he said at the council meeting that the cars were taking up public parking spots that would normally have been used for businesses and vendors in the area.

Chief Sockman said that for the past two months his parking officers have been monitoring the situation. They reported that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the busiest times and that they can have as many as 15 to 18 cars per day, some of which are repeat offenders who are not from Galt.

Vice Mayor Barbara Payne said during the discussion that she thought the ban was a good idea, especially with all of the pedestrian and car traffic around the Galt Market on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“I know especially on C Street on flea market days it’s like a used car lot,” Payne said. “There are people walking around the cars and actually in the street, which is dangerous.”

The ordinance would not prohibit homeowners from displaying vehicles for sale in their driveways, but anonymous sales have resulted in thefts and physical harm to the seller or buyer in certain cases where there was not as much public visibility, such as their homes.

Councilwoman Lori Heuer questioned the necessity of the ordinance, and voted against it at the July meeting.

She said that people already walk in the street, and placing a ban on car sales would discourage residents from turning out on market days, as the city has encouraged them to do.

She suggested that the city convert one of its empty lots into an area where locals could safely sell their cars out of the way if the safety issues proved to be a real concern to the Police Department.

“Some communities, I mean up in Rocklin, they run used car sales in the (Sierra) College parking lot, and allow people to come and bring their cars,” Heuer said. “I just have some concerns about taking people’s personal property.”

Heuer reiterated her points at Tuesday’s council meeting. Councilwoman Marylou Powers joined her in voting against the ordinance, which passed on a 3-2 vote.

“I’m not going to support the order,” Heuer said. “Not because I don’t think it is needed, but I think that we need to come up with an alternative.”

Marjorie Kirk: 916-321-1012, @marjorie_kirk