In July 2003, a motorist drove through barricades at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, striking and killing 10 pedestrians and injuring 63 others. The tragedy resulted in $21 million in city payouts from civil lawsuits after the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the crash could have been prevented with a more rigid barrier system. The infamous Santa Monica incident and other crashes at crowded festivals and farmers markets nationwide in recent years led the San Luis Obispo City Council to approve nearly $1.3 million for a security system to protect crowds at its weekly Farmers Markets.
Those will include a combination of manual, removable bollards (short, sturdy posts used to divert traffic from the road) and automatic, retractable bollards at the entrances of Mission Plaza and nine street entrances to the Farmers Market. The retractable bollards would rise up from the street, while the manual posts would be installed each week by city staff. The council unanimously approved the money for the security plan, which will come from the city’s General Fund.
“There hasve been growing concerns regarding Farmers Market security in the wake of incidents at public gatherings around the country and abroad that have resulted in serious injuries and deaths,” a staff report noted. The recommendation was to “upgrade protection for the approaches to the Farmers event” to improve barrier between cars and attendees.
Bollards will be placed on Higuera, Broad, Garden, Chorro, Morro and Monterey streets where those attending the Farmers Market enter and gather.
In addition to the Santa Monica incident, recent deadly crashes have included a 2014 wreck at a music festival in Austin, where a motorist drove through barricades, killing four pedestrians and injuring 21 others. A 2013 crash took place at the Venice Beach oceanfront, where a motorist drove around barricades and killed one pedestrian and injured 11 others. At the Hawthorne Farmers Market in New Jersey, a driver killed one person and injured two others after driving through barricades.