Council votes out bulb-outs
by Chris Wilson
Tire-marked, driven over and unattractive, the planters, commonly
called bulb-outs, on North Montgomery Street, will soon be torn
The Ojai City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to remove
all 24 planters along the street that runs between Ojai Avenue
and Grand Avenue.
"These bulb-outs are a nuisance and an eyesore," said
City Councilwoman Rae Hanstad. "I can't think of any of
us who like them."
Ojai Public Works Director Stan Hakes reported to the City Council
that the planters, intended to beautify and provide traffic
calming measures on the street, had not turned out as planned.
This was due in part to a funding shortfall that left no money
for desired landscaping and trees and unusual drainage problems
on the old street that forced a plan change separating the planters
from the sidewalk.
"Many of the planters are small, the temporary planting
and landscaping has been stolen or vandalized, and the rock ground
cover and wood chip ground cover are not perceived as attractive
to most in the community," he said.
Turning radius problems for school buses, fire trucks and the
Ojai Trolley were also of concern. These presented both safety
and traffic circulation problems, Hakes said.
Original constructions costs for the planters was included in
the $99,000 sidewalk improvement project so the actual cost was
difficult to determine. Hakes estimated, based on a linear feet
assessment, that the actual cost to install the planters was
between $15,000 and $30,000. The cost to remove all the planters
will cost approximately $24,000 and will go to formal bid after
the council gives approval at their March 12 meeting.
During public comments Montgomery Street business woman and resident
Meg Goodwin of Ojai House said the bulbouts are a pedestrian
hazard and don't line up with the wheelchair ramps at the curb
corners. She offered her money-saving solution to the council.
"I'm sure if you want to mitigate costs just put 23 sledgehammers
out there and I'm sure everybody would be happy to take a whack
at them," she said.
Montgomery Street resident Sid Cohn brought a signature filled
petition supporting the removal of the bulbouts. He said a recommendation
to remove the planters is, "one that would be applauded."
City council member Joe DeVito said he had spoken with people
on Montgomery Street and navigated each planter on the street
with his car. He said he found that in order to make turns around
certain planters, he had to cross over the center line to avoid
"They should be history," Devito said. "With a
heavy rain, enough debris could clog the planters and cause them
to clog pushing the rain out into the street."
City council member Sue Horgan, who also supported the removal
of all the planters, seized the opportunity to take on the Citizens
to Preserve the Ojai's upcoming traffic initiative which will
hit the November Ballot. Horgan urged council members and the
public not to heed the CPO's "propaganda," in considering
"I think we need to defeat the CPO's traffic initiative
in November," she said.
Regarding the Montgomery Street planters, she said the council
had been sold a traffic calming solution when they approved the
sidewalks and planters for the street.
"But what we found was that the cure was worse than the
illness," she said.
In other traffic news, Dr. Lois Barnes, a physician with offices
on Pirie Road, called for the city to take action and do something
about the crosswalk on Highway 33 adjacent to Nordhoff High School
where two students were hit crossing the street this past week.
Others have been hit there and one boy was killed, she said.
"It's a big road and people don't slow down or stop when
you cross the street there," she said. "I don't think
many people know that the highway 33 corridor is the second most
dangerous corridor in the state."
She suggested putting in a stop sign because it's cheap.
Goodwin also commented on the crosswalk safety issue, leading
councilwoman Hanstad to ask staff to contact Caltrans to study
safety improvement options for the crosswalks.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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