What do residents, visitors, business owners and public officials of every community have in common: the desire and need for safety. Most residents think law enforcement and the fire department are the only responsible parties for maintaining public safety within a community, but I see a growing need for municipalities to expand their concept of public safety. Unfortunately, during my tenure as a council member in the City of Artesia, I learned this the hard way.
On April 25, 2014, my mother-in-law Marisa Malin was killed and my three children were injured when an elderly man got into his car, which was parked in a handicap spot facing the front of the restaurant, and he mistakenly put his car in drive. His car plowed straight into a crowd of restaurant-goers waiting at the Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor, in Buena Park, CA. My mother-in-law was killed instantly. My middle daughter sustained skull fractures on both sides of her head. My oldest daughter suffered two broken ankles. Thankfully my son escaped without physical injury. While all three children have recovered from their physical injuries, the trauma of that evening will never leave them.
“This was a freak accident,” I kept thinking to myself in the midst of our grief. However, when I met Rob Reiter, an expert in storefront crashes, I realized this was, unfortunately, very common. He shared with me that these types of vehicle-into-building crashes happen about 60 times a day – resulting in 4,000 injuries and 500 fatalities every year in the United States. With this new knowledge, I was motivated to do something to stop these fatalities.
With the consent of my colleagues on the Artesia City Council, Rob worked with our city attorney to develop an ordinance for new construction projects to protect pedestrians in outdoor dining areas from vehicle impacts. The most important piece of this ordinance requires “Vehicle Impact Protection Devices” between outdoor dining areas and adjacent parking lots at restaurants. In April 2015, one-year after the death of my mother-in-law Marisa, the Artesia City Council voted unanimously to approve ORDINANCE NO. 15-81, which became the new outdoor dining and seating safety standard for the City of Artesia. I am grateful to my colleagues on the Artesia City Council, to the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the City Staff that made this ordinance a reality.
Seven years later, I recognize that we still have a long way to go. No matter where I go, I am acutely aware of dangerous areas in front of coffee shops, convenient stores, and restaurants that remain unprotected, and I know that more can be done.
Please do not wait for someone in your city to suffer a tragedy like the one my family and I had to endure. People should feel safe in your city – you can do something about it. If you are an elected official, talk to your city manager about outdoor diner safety or review the ordinance language that we adopted in Artesia. As elected officials there are concrete steps you can take to make an impact on the safety of your community members and your commercial areas. Choose a reasonable solution that will pay dividends for decades.
About the Author
Victor Manalo is a former council member and local government consultant. He served on the Artesia City Council for over 11 years and is a Past-President of the California Contract Cities Association. While on the City Council, he implemented an ordinance that became the outdoor dining and seating safety standard. He has worked on pedestrian safety issues as a municipal consultant with Calpipe Security Bollards and as the Director of the Storefront Safety Initiative, whose goal is to put an end to vehicle-into-building crashes. Contact Victor Manalo at Victor@VictorManalo.com for more information.
About Calpipe Security Bollards
Calpipe Security BollardsⓇ is a part of Atkore. They provide bollard products and bollard security services. Calpipe Security Bollards offers a wide range of bollards including – safety and architectural bollards, lighted and standard landscaping bollards, as well as crash-tested high-security bollards engineered for anti-terrorist or high-threat applications. Calpipe Security Bollards manufacturing facility is located in the City of Downey at 12160 Woodruff Ave. and is easily accessible from the 5, 105, and 605 Freeways. They are available to provide safety assessments, product specifications, and estimates for crash-tested bollards and other safety devices for cities and other local governments.