No shrubs!

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City-planted bushes on Oriental Boulevard may grow to impede drivers’ vision this spring, posing the same hazard as the 31 planters that the city hauled away late last year, say concerned Manhattan Beach residents who pushed for the planters’ removal.

“This live vegetation is almost as high as the planters,” said Saul Katz, the dean for continuing education at Kingsborough Community College. “These shrubs can pose the same danger to motorists that the planters did.”

The Parks Department planted the 246 evergreens on the road’s pedestrian island in 2008 — three years after the agency installed the controversial planters, according to city spokeswoman Meghan Lalor.

Residents blamed the oversized pots for the large amount of traffic accidents on Oriental Boulevard — the street where a four-year-old boy was struck and killed by a B49 bus on Oct. 7. Locals had been calling for the removal of the pots for five years before the city finally relented and donated them to nearby Kingsborough Community College. But now many are saying that the bushes, which grow to about 3-and-a-half feet in the spring and summer, should be torn out, too.

“The Parks Department trimmed them last August, but by that point they had been overgrown for at least a month,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “It would be better if they weren’t there at all.”

The Parks Department says that it will prune the shrubs down to 2.5 feet by early spring, but some residents say that is still too high.

“If you’re in a low car you’ll have trouble seeing other cars and seeing people stepping off the curb,” said Stan Kaplan.

The wild vegetation will be discussed at the upcoming Manhattan Beach powwow called by the city and the neighborhood’s rival civic groups, according to Edmund Dweck, spokesman for the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association.

“The shrubbery is a concern,” Dweck said. “We have already begun discussions with the city to look at possible solutions.”

There were 59 traffic accidents on Oriental Boulevard — including 10 people who were hit — from 2005 to 2010, according to Department of Transportation records.

Updated 2:58 pm, October 19, 2011
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