The City of Brentwood has begun a cleanup on Brentwood Boulevard between its southern city limits and Birch Street.
The police, parks and recreation, and public works departments will work collaboratively throughout the next few weeks to address blight, traffic hazards, public safety and improve city beautification.
Councilmember Karen Rarey wrote in a Facebook post that after about a year of effort, the city has obtained permission from Union Pacific Railroad to access its property to clean up the oleanders, which have proven obstructive to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic and blighted the general area.
Every other oleander bush will be removed, and the remaining bushes will be trimmed from an estimated height of 25 to 30 feet, down to just 8 feet. Crime scene cleaners are also removing hazardous materials from the area.
“This is a project that’s way overdue,” said Brentwood Police Chief Tom Hansen. “The garbage was horrible — there was so much blight there. This will beautify the city, increase traffic safety and increase public safety.”
Clearing the area will make the area safer for pedestrian crossings, Hansen said, and enable parking along the city limits where none was previously available.
Prior to beginning the cleanup efforts, homeless encampments in the area were given 72-hour notices last week to vacate the area, and were offered services with Contra Costa County. Hansen said there were about seven individuals living in the area for several months.
Nearly everyone he spoke with refused services, citing various reasons: not liking the structure of a shelter; mental health issues; drug addiction; not wanting to be split up from their partner; or not being able to take their pet. Hansen hopes some may change their minds when the weather gets colder and wetter.
“If they want help, we will try to get them help,” he said.
In addition to cleanup efforts, Brentwood Parks and Recreation is preparing a public art project for some of the high-profile entrances to the city, including the southern city limits on Brentwood Boulevard.
Director Bruce Mulder said his department has found a national artist, Douwe Blumberg, who will prepare an art piece, “Fields of Time,” that portrays Brentwood’s history of agriculture and art, and depicts Mount Diablo and the city’s logo. There will also be a new “Welcome to Brentwood” sign. The project is expected to be completed sometime next spring.
Other high-profile areas that will see new art pieces include: the median at the Highway 4 and Balfour Road corridor, and Highway 4 and Sand Creek Road, in front of the Streets of Brentwood.