6:40 PM PST, December 1, 2012
The city of Costa Mesa has installed a number of planters in my neighborhood on Broadway. They consist of islands out in the street where traffic flows. Some are near the curb, others are in the middle. Each is surrounded by concrete curbing similar to that which borders the street, and each is supplied with irrigation water from a nearby valve box in the parking median. There are a total of about 36, and I guess the cost is around $100,000.
The planters are traffic hazards. The ones in the middle of the street narrow the lane, leaving little margin for moving vehicles. The ones at the corners force drivers to swing close to the opposite lane when turning onto and off of Broadway. The planters not only force drivers into unsafe paths, they are hazards in their own right. Each is a collision waiting to happen.
After construction was completed, the planters, nearly invisible at night, were left unmarked. I pointed out the danger to the city, and to the city's credit, sawhorses with flashing lights were quickly placed around each island.
The thinking behind this project is difficult to fathom. But the city traffic engineering department has a long history of proposing projects that impede traffic flow instead of facilitating it (and that we citizens have had to fight off), so it's not all that surprising.
It should be obvious that the planters need to be removed, and quickly, before accidents happen. The project came to a standstill as soon as the planters were completed and it became obvious what had been done, so hopefully their removal is in the works. It's ironic that the planter project description includes the words "safe route to schools" when the planters make Broadway decidedly unsafe.