Steel street bollards are coming to downtown San Luis Obispo to protect events like the weekly Farmers' Market from vehicular accidents and attacks.
On Feb. 20, the SLO City Council voted unanimously to fast track the project using $1.3 million in budget savings, and the city expects to make progress on it within a year.
- File Photo By Dylan Honea-Baumann
- SAFETY PERIMETER The SLO City Council allocated $1.3 million on Feb. 20 for new street bollards that will bar cars from public gatherings like the weekly farmers’ market.
"The scope of the project is to have bollards—pretty significant bollards—at the most prominent entry points [to downtown]," SLO Public Works Director Daryl Grigsby told the City Council.
Street bollards are short vertical posts designed to block cars from entering a space. They can either be installed beneath the street and hydraulically lifted at the press of a button, or they can be manually installed for each use.
SLO is suggesting a combination of the two—installing permanent, retractable bollards at main entry points on Chorro Street and Higuera Street, and manually placing bollards on the other streets as needed.
There are 10 entry points in all, including at both ends of Mission Plaza.
Grigsby said the bollard project had been "in the works for the last two financial plans"—or about four years—in city departments like public works, fire, and police. The project was not previously introduced in the city's Capital Improvement Plan, but officials say it's become a pressing need.
A city staff report cites examples of vehicle collisions at public gatherings across the country, including a 2014 accident at a farmers' market in New Jersey that killed one; a 2014 collision at a music festival in Austin that killed four; and an incident at the Santa Monica farmers' market in 2003 that killed 10. Deliberate car attacks are also on the rise, with the most recent high-profile example of last year's car ramming in New York City that killed eight.
"It was staff's impressions that based on the accidental and deliberate collisions that we would accelerate it," Grigsby said.
In addition to approving the bollard funding, the SLO City Council banked the remaining savings of $4.2 million into a pension trust fund to pay off pension liabilities that exceed $148 million. Δ