From the Office of District 2 Councilmemer Nikki Fortunato Bas
As you may know, last Sunday July 21st, from about 12 noon to 6pm at Cleveland Cascade, community members celebrated the 2nd Annual #BBQnWhileBlack celebration with live performances, kid-friendly activities, local vendors, a tribute to Nipsey Hussle, book giveaways, and more. The event drew in roughly 3000 participants, and because of the larger crowds at this event and others throughout the summer each year, we’ve heard persistent frustration from Lake neighbors about parking, amplified music, vending, and cleanliness which disrupt their home lives.
While we know many Oaklanders deeply value the strong sense of community, culture, and celebration at the Lake, especially during the warmer months, we also understand that this must be reasonably balanced with the needs of nearby residents, and that many issues around the Lake need to be addressed by the City and other authorities.
As such, my team has been diligently working with the Mayor’s office, City departments, and neighbors to address and mitigate concerns. We are also working with our colleagues to find community-led solutions including creating a volunteer Park Ambassador program and bringing back Park Rangers, among other longer-term efforts.
Also see this quick video on Lake Merritt “do’s and dont’s” from my office and our Parks Commissioners Kenzie Smith and Mandolin Kadera-Redmond.
Below is a report on last weekend’s activities from the city departments my office has been working with: Oakland Police Department (OPD), Department of Transportation (OakDOT), Office of Public Works (OPW), and City Administrator's Office and Code Enforcement. We hope you will find this information helpful.
OPD Patrol officers are stopping by the Lake on weekends and distributing educational pamphlets (bit.ly/oakparkspamphlet) with information on enjoying our parks. Officers have been issuing warnings for illegal parking. The officers’ primary responsibilities are to answer calls for service; however, they are prioritizing proactive patrolling and education at the Lake.
Sunday’s event on July 21st was covered by one Sergeant and eight Officers from about 10am to 10pm. Officers were on foot passing out pamphlets on “Do’s and Don’ts” at Lake Merritt. They directed traffic, gave warnings for illegal parking, and helped mitigate concerns and educate visitors about parking enforcement rules. By 6pm, the amplified music was turned off at the main booth and the crowd (between 2000-3000 people) began to disperse.
OakDOT has parking technicians in the field on Saturdays, with technicians patrolling areas around the Lake. For the past year, OakDOT has done a special Sunday detail about once a month specifically to enforce violations that cause safety concerns for those vehicles left in the middle lane. The 3-hr time limits around the lake are also subject to enforcement, Monday - Sunday.
OakDOT’s Saturday shift did not report any unusual incidents last weekend, and Parking Enforcement (PE) did not have a special Sunday shift scheduled last weekend. However, OPD did have units focused on the lake for the special activities occurring. PE is actively working on ways to coordinate their work with OPD, and welcomes your input to assist in this ongoing effort.
On Sunday for the BBQ’n While Black event, OakDOT provided OPD with a digital sign stating “no loud noise, no illegal vending, no illegal parking”.
PE can cite vehicles blocking driveways upon the request of the owner/resident; if a driveway is improved with red curb tips, they will cite and no request is necessary. Please note that regarding parking issues and blocked driveways, you can reach PE directly at 510-238-3099 or email them at email@example.com.
If a vehicle is blocking your driveway and you can’t get out, call the police non-emergency line at (510) 777-3333. Please note that OPD is the only agency that has towing authority. An officer will be dispatched to cite and/or tow the vehicle as appropriate. Also, please note that our new budget increases timely and coordinated emergency response through upgrades to the emergency medical dispatch software and adds three (3) 911 dispatchers (two for Fire and one for Police) to help reduce 911 hold times.
To report abandoned vehicles parked on the street for over 72 hours, call the Abandoned Auto Detail at (510) 777-8622.
For speeding vehicles, please call the Traffic Operations Division at (510) 238-3155. Depending on the nature of the problem, a traffic survey may be conducted and enforcement action taken. Additionally, the Department has warning radar enforcement equipment, which may be used in areas experiencing speeding problems.
We were informed that the organizers behind the BBQn While Black celebration arranged 15 volunteers as well as various event vendors to help to clean litter after the event and filled about 35 garbage bags full of trash from the Lake. Volunteers stayed until 11pm to clean the area and close up shop after the festivities.
Our dedicated staff at OPW were also present at the Lake immediately following the event and the days after to empty overflowing trash cans and pick up litter.
Our office is looking into various strategies to address the volume of trash at the Lake, especially during large events, such as adding trash cans or debris bins.
We also recently began convening a series of meetings with the Lake Merritt Advocates as part of a multi-department effort to reduce trash, littering, and illegal dumping at the Lake and find effective, data-informed solutions to mitigating waste, especially during large-scale events.
City Administrator's Office and Code Enforcement
The city currently has two full time Municipal Code Enforcement Officers tasked with addressing illegal vending at Lake Merritt as well as all other code enforcement matters across the city.
Municipal Code Enforcement Officers were present at Lake Merritt from 8am to 1pm on Saturday. They encountered two illegal mobile venders and distributed information pamphlets to them with educational materials on permitting. The vendors complied after being asked to leave. Code Enforcement Officers similarly conducted outreach and education to four pop-up vendors in the park selling food, and two cannabis businesses, with one of the cases referred to OPD and no citations issued.
Finally, please be aware of these additional resources around common issues at the Lake:
- Park Maintenance or Misc. Issues: You may Report a Problem to request a public works maintenance service for park-related issues. For potential emergency situations, (like objects blocking the road) call the Public Works Call Center at (510) 615-5566. You can also contact the Parks and Rec Department directly at (510) 238-7275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Blight, Illegal Dumping, Graffiti etc.: The best way to report other issues like this is through Oak311 so that our city workers can log and address the issue: https://www.staging.oaklandca.gov/services/oak311
- Amplified Noise: If there is no crime being committed and no immediate risk to public safety, call Oakland non-emergency 510-777-3333 to report the noise nuisance. Remember to ask for an incident number.
- Criminal Activities: If there is a risk to public safety (a fight, unsafe driving, drunk and hostile individuals) call 911 from your home phone or 510 777-3211 from your cell phone. Remember to ask for an incident number.
We look forward to continuing to work together to help ensure that shared public spaces like Lake Merritt are enjoyable, respectful, and safe for all Oaklanders. Thank you.