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Casey casts lone vote against gravel parking lot concept
El Rematito Flea Market
An aerial photo shows the layout of the the El Rematito Flea Market on Crows Landing Road, Ceres. A food vendor truck park will be situated at the southeast portion of the flea market site.

The use of gravel or crushed walnut shells for spillover parking areas at the El Rematito Flea Market is not good policy, Ceres City Councilman James Casey voted last week.

The council had before it the second reading and adoption of an ordinance that would allow the market on Crows Landing Road use those materials to keep down dust. The ordinance change would apply only to spillover parking aside from the normal required paved parking lots.

The change to the Ceres Municipal Code Chapter 18.25 Section K would create a new Section L. Essentially it would allow the director of Community Development to authorize excess parking areas, beyond that which is minimally required, to be either gravel or paved parking.

“This was brought up for a particular business concern and it seems to me a broad ordinance being covering a whole city,” said Casey. “Two weeks ago I asked the definition of overflow parking and so it opens up a kind of a can of worms if we don’t specifically define overflow.”

He felt it was “too general of an ordinance to pass.”

Within seconds of Casey’s remarks, Councilman Daniel Martinez motioned to approve the second reading and adoption which was approved 4-1. 

The issue came up because of complaints that arose last year about dust caused by cars at El Rematito Flea Market on Crows Landing Road.  The popular flea market has paved parking for 1,800 vehicles and also an accessory adjacent dirt lot for parking. The city received complaints about dust from that dirt lot use which prompted the city to order the use abandoned. After much discussion, the city decided to allow the lots – and others like them – to be covered in gravel.

In the case of El Rematito, paving the lot doesn’t make sense as the Ceres General Plan shows the adjacent lot designated to be built with houses in the future.

Hoem said there are a few other properties in Ceres which use dirt parking lots as accessories to paved parking lots, including some churches.

The change does not excuse a use from installing the required minimum-sized paved lots.