What exactly is a sightline obstruction?
Generally, if a tree or shrub near an intersection affects visibility from the ground to approximately 10 feet in height, it is a potential hazard. Maintaining a clear view of approaching vehicles, pedestrians and other obstacles around roadways is important to help limit the chances of an incident due to a sightline obstruction. Common area plants and trees routinely play a role in limiting visibility of signs or at intersections in Communities. There are 2 main ways to address potential sightline obstructions: at design/install and proactive assessments.
During the growing season, intersections should be inspected weekly for common area landscape material that might affect visibility. Creating a program that notes the location of intersections or areas that are frequent offenders is the first step in creating a plan to help the community management and the landscape provider track and react to sightline obstructions. If the issue with a specific piece of landscape material is continuous, consider removing it and replacing it with a smaller plant. Sometimes ground cover plants like lantana and morning glory or small cacti are better choices for areas near intersections. Additionally, consider the same assessment for common area landscape material that encroaches on walkways or into bike lanes. These pedestrian traffic areas should also be reviewed on a regular basis and plant material trimmed and removed as necessary to keep pathways clear for resident use. Most importantly, the main way to address sightline obstructions and risks after the installation of the plant material is with a proactive review and response program.
If you are fortunate to have the opportunity to influence plant installation, pay special attention to plant material near intersections, schools and playgrounds. Also, limit the installation of plants with thorns in areas around walkways to help minimize the instance of pedestrians entering the roadway to avoid undesirable plants. Bougainvillea, ocotillos and other thorny plants should be planned for areas with limited pedestrian interaction. Lastly, pay close attention to the mature size of the plants being planned for new plantings. Almost any plant will work at any location in the 1 and 5 gallon size. Taking a few moments to research the mature size of prospective plants will limit the reactionary response the Association may have to take and limit unneeded expense.
To talk with DLC about sightlines or maintaining your common area landscape, contact Rebecca Herro.