Some major safety improvements are coming to the Thursday night Farmers’ Market in Downtown San Luis Obispo.
The San Luis Obispo City Council authorized the purchase of three dozen new anti-vehicle barriers that are designed to stop any car from plowing into a large crowd.
“It’s essentially a way for the City of San Luis Obispo to provide a safe area for the weekly farmers' market,” said San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson.
The city purchased 36 additional anti-vehicle barriers from Meridian Defense Group at a cost of approximately $331,000.
“It’s unfortunate that this is necessary, but I do appreciate the city taking the initiative in order to keep people safe,” said recent Cuesta College Graduate Jenneca Ortiz.
The city already has 16 barriers that are used to block off both ends of Higuera Street. They were also used to block off a portion of Monterey Street during Friday’s pro-abortion protest.
“It’s pretty straightforward, they’re on wheels, they’re on an electric dolly,” said Johnson. “We can close the street in five minutes.”
The 700 lb. steel barriers can quickly be set up at any large gathering. Meridian’s CEO says that safety is top of mind in wake of recent tragedies such as when a driver rammed into a crowded Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
“How it works is when you hit the barrier, it’s designed to tumble or roll and the vehicle will be stopped within seven feet depending on the type of deployment configuration,” said Peter Whitford, CEO of Meridian Rapid Defense Group.
The barriers are also meant to minimize harm to the driver—whether it be an intentional attack or an unexpected medical emergency.
They also come with artwork and are meant to blend into the community with the goal of keeping people at ease.
“Anything we can do to make it assimilate into the community and not look like a warzone is what we pride ourselves in doing,” said Whitford.
“I think it adds to the character of SLO. I love it when downtown areas include local art and I think it makes a city a lot more friendly and inviting,” added Ortiz.
The city currently blocks off both ends of Higuera Street during farmers’ market.
Once the new barriers arrive, all side streets will also be protected.