Thousands of people visit Lake Merritt every weekend when the weather is welcoming. There are often more people seeking to access this public park by car than there are parking spaces available. To maintain equitable community access to these spaces, City efforts have included heavy police presence and closure of major streets and lanes – which have been expensive and may have decreased access to the park for some users.
Parking meters have a proven track record of improving access to parking spaces in high-demand areas. For example, in busy commercial districts, time limits and metering encourage parking turnover – people arriving, staying for a time, and then leaving – so that arriving visitors are more likely to be able to find a space to park. In unmetered areas along Lake Merritt, many vehicles are parked in the morning and left there all day long (or over multiple days), which denies access to people trying to access those spaces later in the day. Lake Merritt is most popular on weekends, therefore the new meters will be enforced seven days a week.
The project map shows the areas around the Lake which are already metered and streets where new meters will be installed to encourage parking turnover.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do the pay-by-plate meters work?
A: Enter your license plate number at the parking meter kiosk and insert payment.
Q: After I pay, do I need to display a receipt?
A: No, you do not need to display a receipt on your dashboard. An optional receipt can be printed for your records, if needed.
Q: What will change under this plan?
A: The City has installed new parking meters at parking spaces on the streets indicated in green in the map above – only on the side of those streets that is directly bordering Lake Merritt. Civilian parking management staff, not police, will enforce these meters.
Q: How will the City measure whether this plan is successful – if it’s providing improved visitor access to Lake Merritt?
A: Successfully managed metered parking should support significant usage of the available parking while leaving one or two open spaces per block – typically about 85-90% utilization of parking spaces is ideal. That’s what we will be looking for here, especially during times of peak demand for access.
Q: Who is getting parking tickets around Lake Merritt now?
A: Data from the last five years shows that most citations being issued to vehicles at Lake Merritt are being issued to residents of the ZIP codes closest to the lake itself – in other words, residents who live there, rather than visitors from other parts of Oakland. More information is on the map above.
Q: What is the City doing to manage demand at Lake Merritt now? How is this different?
A: Currently, the City’s Police, Parking Enforcement and Municipal Code Enforcement officers are at the Lake nearly every weekend, which is not sustainable or equitable, and is not ideal for park users, residents or City departments.
Q: How will this plan affect historically excluded communities and address racial equity regarding access and belonging at Lake Merritt?
A: Among the most important guiding principles driving the City’s efforts at Lake Merritt is that everyone deserves access to the Lake – that it is a shared place for all Oaklanders of every background, identity, and neighborhood. The status quo allows vehicle owners to park in unmetered spots bordering the Lake and leave their vehicle there for long periods of time – including from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning, at times when visitors’ demand for these spaces is at its highest. This disproportionately benefits nearby residents who can claim these spaces while making access harder for residents of other neighborhoods who are driving to visit the lake. Among the priority goals for this proposal is to improve access for these visitors, and the City will be evaluating the success of this effort and honing it over time as needed. Additionally, the City will continue to report out, as we have in the above map, which Oakland zip codes are receiving citations, using public information about where vehicles’ registered owners live. Currently, that data indicates that residents near the Lake are receiving the most tickets, with relatively few being issued to residents of West Oakland, Fruitvale, East Oakland, and elsewhere. As the City continues evaluating this effort, it will include updates to that citation data and watch for any changes that disproportionately affect historically excluded and underserved communities and neighborhoods.
Q: Is the City doing this to collect more money from vehicle owners? What will happen with the revenues?
A: The City’s primary aim with this proposal is to facilitate better access to Lake Merritt, not raise money. Implementing these meters would produce revenue, however, and as with all metering revenues Citywide, the City Council would have discretion over how to spend them. Staff heard significant community support for using revenues on increased parks programming and maintenance, and will be making that recommendation to the City Council, suggesting also that they be used to support fee-free debit cards for Oakland’s unbanked and underbanked residents to use the meters without additional charges, as well as supporting other efforts to provide mobility access.
In the summer of 2022, City Council adopted Resolution 89277 CMS, directing "the City Administrator to allocate the net revenues generated by the Lake Merritt Parking Management Plan as follows: 2% toward discounted transportation access and a vending program, 25% toward parking maintenance citywide, 30% toward an expanded Park Steward Program and 20% toward traffic safety improvements at the lake and adjacent to other parks citywide."
Q: Are accessible parking provided?
A: Yes, accessible parking spaces (aka blue zone) are provided. Please view the blue zone GIS map for locations.
Q: What are the city's accessible parking policies?
A: See the City's Accessible On-Street Parking Policy.
Q: How can I share my thoughts, ideas, concerns, and priorities with City leaders considering this plan?
A: Please contact your local Councilmember’s Office or attend an upcoming meeting of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission or the City Council and ask to speak either during open forum or when this item is on the agenda.