Nikki Bas Oakland City Council District Two Councilmember

Sustainable, Healthy Use Of Lake Merritt – Nikki Fortunato Bas, Oakland District 2 Councilmember

Sustainable, Healthy Use of Lake Merritt: Pilot Program Beginning this Weekend

The issues at Oakland’s Lake Merritt are complex, with groups having different needs and perspectives, all of which are important and that we are working to honor — families and elders facing challenging issues living at the Lake, entrepreneurs / vendors of color seeking economic stability during uncertain times, park users, and wildlife conservationists. In a recent update, I shared the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission / PRAC’s recommendations for sustainable use of Lake Merritt, which sought to balance the two perspectives below:

What is going on around the Lake is not sustainable and must change ASAP.
People need healthy outdoor places to gather and engage in commercial activity, especially during these unprecedented times.

On September 16th, PRAC voted to recommend a pilot program to deter illegal parking and vending; promote compliance with park rules and County rules during COVID; and address challenges such as late night noise.
The City, in coordination with the Oakland Black Vendor Association, is developing this pilot for merchandise vendors to take place along El Embarcadero and in the Lakeview Library parking lot on weekends beginning this Saturday, October 3rd, 10am – 6pm. Note: If air quality reaches the 150+ Unhealthy level, the program will be postponed until next weekend.

The City of Oakland is working to resolve concerns related to late night noise, large gatherings prohibited under COVID, etc. in coordination with the launch of the pilot. Our goal is to reset the tone at the Lake and address the core issues that we’ve heard from neighbors, while also maintaining an inclusive, equitable and safe public space during COVID and beyond.

Oakland Police Department will work with our municipal code officers this weekend to warn vendors of increased enforcement action as the pilot begins, and my office will continue to engage and encourage vendors to participate in this new pilot.

We welcome your feedback. We are grateful to the Oakland City Administrator’s Office, City Departments, James “Old School” Copes, Oakland Black Vendors Association, and PRAC Commissioners for helping make this pilot happen quickly and supporting multiple, complex interests.

In addition, the Downtown Streets Team, has relaunched its Oakland Team to support unhoused individuals providing them with work beautifying Lake Merritt, including litter pick up around the Lake. In return for their volunteer services, Team Members receive a basic-needs stipend, case management, employment services, and a support network. Team Members are giving back to Oakland while working to overcome barriers to housing and employment. You may see the team beautifying the lake as they relaunch their program this month.

Note: post based on newsletter dated October 3rd, 2020.

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