Driver Crashes Vehicle in Flower Planter Box in Parking Lot of Orchards Shopping Center

January 12, 2018 22:53 pm · 93 comments

A vehicle drove into a flower planter box in the parking lot of the Orchards Shopping Center on Ygnacio Valley Rd. at Oak Grove Rd. in Walnut Creek on Friday afternoon.

The exact cause of the crash hasn’t been released by the police.

The vehicle was stuck for a few hours before it was towed away.

Thanks to Joshua Kerr for the photo and information.

UPDATE: Thanks to Alexis Alden for the photo shown below:

Googlar January 12, 2018 at 11:00 PM

There are people who can drive 105mph on a freeway without issue. Then there are people who crash into a flower pot at 5mph.

jdh January 12, 2018 at 11:04 PM

That parking lot has the worst design ever. I have seen 10 people in the planter box its a tow truck Company”s dream

Anon January 13, 2018 at 7:06 AM

I agree this is the worst parking lot design maybe when this driver takes the owner to court they will redesign it I have seen enough close calls.

Frank January 13, 2018 at 12:31 PM

How is it the parking lot. This is just inattention or worse on the part of the driver. It can “never” be the parking lot’s fault.

elviss January 13, 2018 at 8:05 PM

Some of the in-ground planters in the parking lot are missing their tree which likely got taken out, too, at some point. Since nothing is sticking up that is visible to the driver, it is fairly easy to get hung up on one of them. I’ve done it myself.

WC resident January 12, 2018 at 11:07 PM

It looks like this car drove into a cache basin though I would not call it a “crash.” Given how empty the lot was as shown in the second photo I suspect the driver tried to cut diagonally through the lot.

Modern parking lots have cache basins that capture rain water and percolate as much of it as possible into the ground in the area. It helps lower the amount of runoff into the storm drain system and replenishes the ground water as much of the area is now covered by buildings and parking lots.

The downside is there can be quite a drop-off from the level of the parking lot to the cache basin. I’m sure more than one person cutting through a parking lot on foot has stumbled into a basin.

DrvrdadCA January 13, 2018 at 7:22 AM


Mom of the Horde January 13, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Those planter boxes/catch basins are called bioswales. The bioswales filter the runoff when it rains.

Way to go January 13, 2018 at 11:45 AM

Interesting. I’ve wondered why those basins are so deep. It seems a bit hazardous to both cars and pedestrians. But at least there is some logic behind them.

fedUp January 12, 2018 at 11:29 PM

I agree, parking lot bad design; spaces too tight in many parts of it.

Amy January 12, 2018 at 11:46 PM

Whoever designed or approved this parking lot? These aren’t planter boxes, they are holes with concrete borders around them between parking spaces. They are really deep. No surprise cars get stuck navigating the parking lot. Orchard Shopping Center needs to fix this stupid and potentially dangerous design.

Scoob January 13, 2018 at 8:09 AM

I completely agree. These super deep holes all throughout the parking lot are a terrible idea put in place by good-intentioned environmentalists that just don’t understand we are grossly overpopulated here now and we have to come to terms with it. There will be hundreds of cars in these holes in the coming decades. They are too dangerous and should be filled in.

Loretta January 13, 2018 at 1:00 AM

@WC Resident, the correct term is a *catch* basin.

TIFOKCIS January 13, 2018 at 5:32 AM

I do the same thing every time.

Gary January 14, 2018 at 3:05 PM

Hahahaha your car must look like hell.
Kidding I got your joke. And laughed 😄

Chicken Little January 13, 2018 at 5:42 AM

Honestly, I’m surprised more cars don’t get stuck in those tank traps.

Of course, wrecked cars and senior citizens with broken hips are a small price to pay for keeping a little rainwater out of the storm drains.

Silva January 13, 2018 at 5:43 AM

How embarrassing.

Mimi (original) January 13, 2018 at 5:47 AM

Omg! Yeh, that’s definitely NOT a flower bed! But still, falling into one with your car takes a bit of talent! I suspect the person was 1) driving too fast for being in a parking lot and 2) was probably on their cellphone at the same time (after all, “I’m just in a parking lot, not on the street”, right?). That being said, that shopping center and its parking lot are definitely worth avoiding at all costs!

Poorly designed January 13, 2018 at 6:06 AM

Those planter/ medians/ water basins are dangerous. They a quite unforgiving. When I first saw them, I figure that any little mishap involving them would cost the driver big money. They are also very dangerous to pedestrians. It is difficult to get in and out of your car if you are parked next along side to one since the parking spots are narrow. Another similar parking lot that is dangerous is the one on Concord Avenue by the Habit Burger. The basins are very deep and pedestrians have to walk out into the lots traffic lanes to wander around them.

JohnnyWoop January 13, 2018 at 6:43 AM

And this happened nowhere near Ranch 99! Shocking!

Regardless of what those things are for, or how you spell it (yeah, it was really odd reading that as ‘cache’), say it or how the parking lot is designed, that’s a pretty big obstacle to just randomly drive into.

Pay attention when you’re driving buttercup!

C3 Basins January 13, 2018 at 6:50 AM

They are water retention basins (AKA C3 basins), required by the county, enforced by WC. They are designed to collect all the rain water, filter out any contaminants, and then drain the clean water into the sewer. The same sewer that collects the unfiltered Ygnacio Valley road rainwater. A huge waste of money and a ton of regulations and inspections. The pants in the basins are even regulated. We have to maintain several on our commercial property. The owners of Orchards had no choice but to put them in, in specific locations, specific sizes. Believe me, they didn’t want to spend the multi-millions installing them. They would have rather had more parking spaces.

Anon January 13, 2018 at 9:40 PM

There’s pants in there too? What a mess!

C3 Basins January 15, 2018 at 9:03 PM

Yeah, saw the typo after I posted it. Sorry!
“Pants” could help filter the water, you never know. Until the county enforces pants to be installed, we will have to work with plants.

lovelace January 13, 2018 at 7:00 AM

How is the parking lot full of allergies?

Concord Res January 13, 2018 at 7:08 AM

Shouldn’t a planter box have plants this looks like just a hazard in the middle of the parking lot.

Potato Head January 13, 2018 at 7:40 AM

I’m going with bad depth perception on the part of the driver. I see a lot of people who appear to be unable to judge distances very well, whether it be front end, back end, or side. They don’t get up to, or cross over a stop sign line; they don’t center their vehicle in a parking spot; they tailgate or lag too far behind the vehicle in front of them; they cut the corner on a turn or swing too wide; and as here, don’t know where their tires line up under their vehicle.

WC January 13, 2018 at 7:51 AM

So I’ve seen a white RX350 thats:

Plowed into Bancroft CVS
Plowed into Sports Basement
and now the planter.

Makes one wonder if it’s the same person and Lexus.

Serious? January 13, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Cause of accident is because it is a Lexus. They are potentially the worst drivers out there, The people who buy a Lexus are people who want to seem like they have money, but are just wasting it instead.

Aspirin January 13, 2018 at 8:17 AM

When are they going to finish construction on many of the stores? I see lots of exposed scaffolding and whatnot.

Drive By January 13, 2018 at 8:17 AM

Such an awful little strip-mall in general. And the name – “The Orchards” – is simply disingenuous. Shame on Walnut Creek. I propose a name change to something more appropriate. Perhaps something like; “JASM East, At Ygnacio”. It’s a thought.

JASM: “Just Another Strip Mall”

Cyco Miko January 13, 2018 at 8:22 AM

Saw that car yesterday, wonder what the driver was doing. That parking lot is pretty awful. Tight spaces I get because the smaller lot size, but why so many curbs and divisions, just a waste of space. I stepped into one of those “catch” basin one evening, I’m glad I didn’t twist my ankle, but they are just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Cowellian January 13, 2018 at 8:34 AM

Not all SUVs are designed to go off-roading.

EastBayJen January 13, 2018 at 8:38 AM

I agree with many of the posters. This parking lot is horrible. You have to be really careful or you will drive into one of these “Planter Boxes”. I have noticed that this design seems to be a central theme for many Walnut Creek shopping centers.

Homer January 13, 2018 at 8:38 AM

Jeez guys. Is there any accountability anymore? Hundred bucks says SHE was on a cell phone.

Sam January 13, 2018 at 8:40 AM

Maybe install five foot high fence inside the perimeter of the basin for drivers to see? Something needs to be done..

Lambie January 13, 2018 at 9:07 AM

I was going to suggest that 😉

BeAlert January 13, 2018 at 9:50 AM

My suggestion is to pay attention to your surroundings, that includes being aware of pedestrians and other cars. Too many people are in a hurry or are distracted. Almost got run over by a young person looking at on their phone.

Dirtnap January 13, 2018 at 8:53 AM

It’s amusing to read comments about how stupid the lot is. The reality is that stupid people can’t drive.

Lambie January 13, 2018 at 9:11 AM

Same car, same person? Munchausen by proxy with a car? LOL

Town January 13, 2018 at 9:14 AM

Not even close. Bad driver. If this was a sidewalk instead of a catch basin this person would still be five feet onto a sidewalk.

Marmalade January 13, 2018 at 9:14 AM

I heard it and looked over and based on what I saw, car still moving and angle that driver shouldn’t even have a driver’s license.
If you can’t manage a parking lot you don’t belong on the street.
There is nothing wrong or designed bad about these so called catch basins. Bad drivers would hit the side of a barn if one was nearby.
I walked over and was laughing and making comments out loud about bad drivers. I wasn’t the only one laughing.

Nothing needs to be done to keep this from happening parking lot wise but sending this driver back to driving school or taking their license away.

I wish I had video of this happening cause it’s a Darwin award nominee.

Anon January 13, 2018 at 11:27 AM

Always interesting that TROLLS seem to be everywhere.
You saw it???👌🏻

Keep all three barrels up January 13, 2018 at 12:36 PM

Marmalade is just a troll who comments negatively on almost every single thread. Just ignore the he/she.

Mika January 13, 2018 at 9:24 AM

There should be higher curbs, or fences, around them. How many people, especially children, haved fallen in them?

Town January 13, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Get you face out of your phone when walking like the hundreds of other people I see.

Jojo Potato January 13, 2018 at 9:28 AM

You mean the shopping center where they cut down all the orchards, right? And bulldozed the cute little squirrels too? All so morons can complain about parking, right? I got it now, Walnut Creek!

WC resident January 13, 2018 at 9:36 AM

Thank you DrvrdadCA and Loretta for the correction of “catch” vs. the “cache” I used earlier. I did some Google on the subject. It looks like the current term for those things is bioretention basins or water retention basins.

“Catch basins” are the older style where there’s a metal grill that we can drive over. The water falls into a basin which has a couple of square feet at the bottom for draining but tends to quickly overflow into the storm drain outlet. Bioretention basins are larger and are inside parking lot medians. They are excellent traps for the unwary.

I don’t think the problem is the bioretention basins themselves but that some parking lots are striped either with too small stalls and/or stalls at odd angles. While it’s not pretty I prefer the old style acres of gravel or asphalt. If someone goes shopping during off hours it’s easy and safe to cut diagonally through the lot. When it’s busy it becomes efficient both for the number of cars the lot can hold, finding a spot feels “democratic” as you go up/down long rows until you luck out, and getting in out of spots does usually not require several spotters,

I’ve seen gridlocks within modern parking lots such as the one for the Crossroads Shopping Center (formerly Montgomery Ward / dome theater) where a single car trying to exit a stall gets snagged up which causes others to stop and soon a cluster gridlock forms with nobody able to escape to empty parts of the parking as they are trapped by medians containing bioretention basins.

Mimi (original) January 14, 2018 at 6:57 AM

Yes, the Crossroads ingress/egress was also very poorly laid out. I usually go around the back of the center and out past DSW. It might be longer but it’s far less frustrating.

94521 January 13, 2018 at 9:40 AM

How about painting the border of these catch basins neon yellow or orange?

Marmalade January 13, 2018 at 10:03 AM

Pay attention to your driving people. Designers shouldn’t have to put air bags in parking lots cause of clueless distracted drivers.
I like that shopping area, nice wide parking stalls, none of those stupid compact stall crap at least at Safeway and Wells Fargo.

This isn’t Vietnam people, learn to drive.

Strad January 13, 2018 at 10:09 AM

Are self driving cars going to be so accurate to avoid these things?

Badge1104 January 14, 2018 at 1:42 AM

Probably not. Not when one SDC
(self driving car) hit a bus when it was avoid a paper bag in the road; and another that drove under a flatbed trailer because it thought the road was clear.

ManBearPig January 13, 2018 at 10:12 AM

If these basins give you trouble while behind the wheel, you have no business driving.

Jp January 13, 2018 at 10:45 AM

Not the first car I’ve seen do this in that parking lot. The other one had both front wheels all the way down in the planter box. That was when it first opened. I thought by now they would’ve realized how stupid it was and changed it. Guess not.

Marmalade January 13, 2018 at 1:11 PM

Why should they change it because of careless/stupid drivers?

Hill January 13, 2018 at 10:57 AM

I walk around there and have no idea what allergies you are talking about. Please explain, this makes no sense and sounds like a personal problem.

Gator January 13, 2018 at 11:22 AM

Those things are called bioswales. The soil in them is meant to allow water to slowly re-enter the ground. It has to be that deep because in heavy rains they fill and gradually release.. There’s a pipe in the middle that stands a little higher so in the event of a really heavy rain event the water won’t flood the parking lot but will then be diverted into the storm drain. The notches are so all the water from the parking lot falls in there. Those notches are what causes all the problems. Even if you’re moving slowly and your tire goes into this notch between the curbs youre screwed. The person driving may not have been paying attention, but then again even someone being careful my get unlucky..

NorwichFan January 13, 2018 at 11:30 AM

I was waiting for someone to drive into the inground planters. I am waiting for someone to fall and trip into the planters especially the elderly . They have used grasses and many people are allergic to these grasses. Good intentions but poorly implemented. Nobody did a reality test when plans were developed.

Ack January 13, 2018 at 12:40 PM

I have often wondered about those, since the parking space is right next to them and it would be easy to fall in. Why can’t they have a grate on top? I realize this would be an eyesore but, otherwise, you are looking at a lawsuit.

Marmalade January 13, 2018 at 1:12 PM

Hard to sue because of one’s own stupidity…

Silva January 13, 2018 at 5:21 PM

It would probably be well worth the investment. Hard to believe the center’s insurance company is okay with it this way. We’ll probably see some changes after this. Grates would be a good answer I would think.

Badge1104 January 14, 2018 at 1:47 AM

I agree that they`d be open to a big lawsuit if someone falls into it! Frankly I almost did on my first visit to that center last month when getting out of car. I thought they were unfinished Construction. The thought of them leaving that way is crazy!

RunnerDope January 13, 2018 at 12:45 PM

Perhaps she meant allergens.

Drivers Don't Pay Attention January 13, 2018 at 1:00 PM

They could have just as easily driven over a Child in a Stroller……The drive in front of Trader Joe’s at Oak Grove is one of the most dangerous places I’ve ever seen. I’ve had Morons blow their horns at me, as if they have the right-of-way over pedestrians.

concord January 13, 2018 at 1:10 PM

Wife parked next to one when going shopping. Daughter stepped out of the car onto the small curb, only place you could stand, and lost her balance. Took a nasty tumble into the pit, scraping her elbow and knee pretty bad. She was paying close attention, wasn’t on her cell phone. Obviously we take more care when parking now, to ensure she isn’t exiting into a death pit, but still a pretty terrible design.

WC resident January 13, 2018 at 9:59 PM

I had the same happen to me except I did not fall into the pit. I sure was surprised as the parking stall was so narrow that my only option was to step onto the curb which also has the cutouts to let water into the pit. At least I had both hands free at the time. If I had a young child in the back seat I don’t think I’d be able to safely get the child in or out. If I was carrying bags, packages, or a child I doubt I can safely balance on the edge of the curb trying to avoid the pit while also unlocking the car and getting things in/out of it. Granted, I maybe able to do stuff from the other side of the car but it throws the routine off.

CollegeCollage January 13, 2018 at 11:24 PM

I described my similar incident below before I saw yours! Didn’t realize this happened. Sorry about her tumble.

And now I know what that notch was for!

chuckie the troll January 13, 2018 at 1:20 PM

I believe that those deep planter areas are actually a catch basin/bioswale combo designed to meter water into storm drains and filter pollutants.

As for fault, if you can’t safely navigate a parking lot, take Lyft or Uber. This driver should be required to re-take the behind -the-wheel portion of the driver’s test. And…were they distracted?

elviss January 14, 2018 at 12:57 AM

A more reasonable solution would be to plant a tree in those things.

hill January 13, 2018 at 1:39 PM

I cant imagine people mean plant allergies, if thats the case half of my street woukd need to go, along with every planter box. I get bad allergies, but I wouldnt take a world of cement over it.

Mika January 13, 2018 at 1:59 PM

They need to make wider parking spots adjacent to all of those pits. And I like the idea of painting the curbs around them a bright color. These pits are an accident waiting to happen, an attractive nuisance, for both cars and pedestrians.

ClaytonBabs January 13, 2018 at 3:13 PM

The teller at that Wells Fargo told me he sees cars land in those areas a lot.

OverWhelmed January 13, 2018 at 4:37 PM

I almost fell into one of those at the new Safeway on Ygnacio and Oak Grove. They need to put a rail or something around them for safety.

Serious? January 13, 2018 at 6:35 PM

We cannot live in a bubble people. Seriously. Pay attention and take responsibility for your own actions. I foreseen the world being paved over because everyone is going to need a safe space.

elviss January 14, 2018 at 1:14 AM

I think the fact that so many people have had unpleasant experiences with them pretty much inficates there is a flaw in the design.

Marmalade January 13, 2018 at 7:32 PM

You know I’m still laughing about this. This really is good comedy, you know just watching people not paying attention fall down or drive over curbs into holes.
I think tomorrow I’m gonna go park there and see if I can catch some video of the next funny mishap…

elviss January 13, 2018 at 8:10 PM

They had trees in them at one point several years ago. They were supposed to grow and provide shade.

elviss January 13, 2018 at 8:13 PM

Oh, sorry, wrong Orchard! I was thinking of the Orchard Supply Hardware at Ygnacio snf Clayton Roads.

Silva January 13, 2018 at 9:22 PM

Oh me too. That explains why I never noticed them there.

CollegeCollage January 13, 2018 at 11:19 PM

I parked next to the curb of those planters earlier and almost broke my ankle. When I got out of the car I stepped on the curb, but the curb has a notch cut into it for some reason and my ankle started to twist. I caught myself on the car before I got hurt, but had I not I would have fallen right into the planter. Man the law suits waiting to happen!

They should have asked me, I would have designed a great parking lot.

Badge1104 January 14, 2018 at 1:58 AM

I agree that they`d be open to a big lawsuit if someone falls into it! Frankly I almost did on my first visit to that center last month when getting out of car. I thought they were unfinished Construction. The thought of them leaving that way is crazy!

Bipitybobityboo January 14, 2018 at 7:49 AM

Probably thought they were hemp plants

Kirkwood January 14, 2018 at 12:02 PM

The architect obviously didn’t consider all the ramifications of the design. A different curb profile might have reduced the probability of cars running into the basin. I believe the original concept showed a tree in each basin, I don’t know why they are not. I do know that theft of freshly planted materials is a problem in cities.

As for the original concept, mandates by a litany of California water protection agencies becomes stricter each year with the end goal of reducing the toxicity of storm water running into creeks to zero. You are already paying for this in your property tax bill.

Lari January 14, 2018 at 4:28 PM

While I haven’t had any trouble navigating the lot in car or on foot, when it first opened I found the lot design to be odd (and wondered if those ‘pits’ would be an accident waiting to happen). Lot spaces are pretty tight. I only go there when I need to go to Stein-Mart…prefer the pet store across street and the Clayton Station Safeway.

Marmalade January 14, 2018 at 7:38 PM

The lot spaces are not tight! What do you drive a 4 door Hummer, yeah it might be tight. Safeway spaces are the widest spaces I’ve seen anywhere.
The designers don’t design according to stupid drivers or people getting out of their cars and tripping, they assume people know how to pay attention.
Lawsuits in the recent past don’t win for people driving over curbs or tripping in parking lots and getting hurt.

Marmalade January 15, 2018 at 4:19 AM

The Clayton Station Safeway is a joke, that’s the worst parking lot I’ve been in. The spaces are all compact size and I don’t go there anymore.

Mika January 14, 2018 at 9:48 PM

Costco has the best parking lot, plenty of room no matter what you are driving and room to move your cart in between cars.

GRX January 15, 2018 at 8:32 AM

Don’t like those deep basins?

You call can thank the State legislature as part of CA’s Clean Water Program.

They are better suited in rainy areas like the mid-West, South, and east coast.

Be kind January 15, 2018 at 10:35 AM

Yesterday I ran up on an island curb that I did not see, because my car is up too high. That is why I think that happens. I was very embarrassed, This man was laughing at me. It is not funny. I will study the landscape first before I take off. Not a good experience.

Keep all three barrels up January 15, 2018 at 12:35 PM

Maybe the person laughing at you was Marmalde. He already said he was laughing at the person who went up the curb. I for one don’t find it funny.

Silva January 15, 2018 at 3:11 PM

Those who laugh last, laugh best.

Lari January 15, 2018 at 3:34 PM

@Marmalade – laughing at your comment “widest spaces I’ve seen anywhere”…

anon January 19, 2018 at 7:56 PM

3 black females and one black male stole over $7000 worth of merchandise from Any Mountain in the Willows shopping center this evening. They were last seen driving a grey Kia Sol with New York license plates.

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