Oakland introduces crowd control measures around popular Lake Merritt

Crowd sizes at Oakland’s Lake Merritt has become so bad that city officials are closing several streets around the lake, cracking down on unauthorized street vendors inside the park and adding additional maintenance crews.

City officials said Friday that the dramatic increase in visitors has caused parking, traffic safety, and noise issues, attracted unauthorized commercial vending, including alcohol and cannabis sales and generated large amounts of litter impacting the lake.

Last summer and fall, the city started a pilot street vending program, implemented street closures, restricted parking, and enhanced public outreach and enforcement activity. These measures proved effective.

As of April 3, and continuing through November, the city will be implementing additional measures to address the impacts of large crowds at the lake on weekends. The new rules include:

  • Closing Lakeshore Avenue in the southbound direction from MacArthur Boulevard to Hanover Avenue between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekends. The center lane will remain closed, but the northbound lane will be open
  • Limiting access on the Lakeshore Avenue cul-de-sac to residents living on the cul-de-sac or people going to the church
  • Closing El Embarcadero in both directions to allow room for vendors
  • Closing the Lakeview Library parking lot
  • Not allowing through traffic on Bellevue Avenue, Ellita, and Staten avenues
  • Restricting parking on Lakeshore Avenue between MacArthur Boulevard and East 18th Street, Grand Avenue between Bellevue and El Embarcadero, and Bellevue Avenue on the lakeside from Perkins to Grand.

Additionally, food vending, alcohol and cannabis sales, and amplified sound will not be permitted. Merchandise vendors will be encouraged to contact the Oakland Black Vendors Association to apply to be part of the future permitted market.

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