Long Beach: Belmont Heights Medians Are Complete with Slower Traffic and More Pedestrians

Trees being installed last July. Photo courtesy of BHCA.

First there were fire hydrants and now there are trees and plants–simple yet beautiful trees and plants.

Call me overly obsessed about the simple things (this is easily the fourth or fifth piece in which I’ve discussed Long Beachers doing seemingly small things that have large impacts) and I could very well respond that you’re right. But that’s not necessarily a pejorative thing, on any urban landscape level.

Take the Belmont Heights Community Association (BHCA), led by its President Dianne Sundstrom and a few Belmont Heights folks, including my favorite Long Beach historian of all time, Maureen Neeley of HouStories.

They saw Broadway–a street with which many have gripes, of which I am included in continually speaking out–and noticed issues that make it the opposite of a Complete Street: speeding traffic, people either can’t cross or are too afraid to do so, and it overall lacks a sense of safety (particularly important given the large amount of families and schools that make Belmont Heights one of the most desirable neighborhoods to live in).

Though, as Sundstrom put it, “Fundraising is a difficult and lengthy process,” they still kept up a battle to safety-guard Broadway for almost a decade and the results have finally come in after they planted 6,000 plants this past weekend (that’s not a typo: six-thousand plants).

The beautification project, spanning Broadway between Park and Nieto, was initiated almost 10 years ago by residents.

“The primary goal was to slow traffic in order to create a safer area for pedestrians, including students at Lowell and parishioners at St. Bartholomew’s Church,” Sundstrom said. “A secondary goal was greening and beautifying the area.”

A final arrangement of plants complete the medians. Photo courtesy of BHCA.

Meeting with Studio One Eleven architect Michael Bohn and LBFD Chief Mike Duree, years of plans finally began to materialize to create large medians and clearly marked crosswalks. With businesses and donations largely accounting for the greenery and private fundraising–with the help of Councilmember Gary DeLong–in order to install the $10,400 irrigation system, the BHCA was well on its way to completion.

And though they are indeed large and though they make U-turns a tad more tedious to make, the medians are now complete with trees planted last July and the low-lying plants this past Saturday.

The result: a beautiful, green dividing strip that has residents already noting the slower passing by of traffic and the comfort of more pedestrians.

“We’re very happy to finally complete a project that has improved pedestrian safety and will ultimately beautify the neighborhood,” Sundstrom said.

And so are we. Keep up the amazing work that is the simple art of beautification.