Oakland prohibits parking at Lake Merritt

In an attempt to limit the number of people converging on Oakland's Lake Merritt, the city eliminated parking this weekend near the lake beginning Friday and next weekend through Memorial Day.

"It's annoying because I have to find parking," said resident Victoria Carlisle.

But we found some people were parking in those spots anyway.

"The parking enforcement will be a little lenient. They'll start having conversations. This is no parking. We are asking you to move your car. And they will follow up with citations after that," said Oakland Parks and Recreation director Nicholas Williams.

The city has also banned vendors at the lake including food trucks. And playgrounds are off limits.

Around the lake we saw people practicing social distancing and wearing masks Friday. The lake will also have ambassadors present this weekend to remind people about health and safety.

"The link between physical health and mental health is obvious. So I am looking for our kids physical health and mental health as well," said Carlisle.

"Yes we invite you to come out and use the park. Yes come have a walk. Yes bring your kids out. We are asking you not to congregate. We are asking you not to use the amenities so you can stay safe," said Williams.

Oakland leaders have adopted the slogan "give the lake a break."

The City of Oakland is trying to walk a fine line between keeping the lake and other city parks open, but at the same time trying to make sure they are not overrun with so many people that social distancing become next to impossible.

Over the past two weekends Lake Merritt became overcrowded. Many people were not following social distancing guidelines and were not staying at least six feet apart.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed concern last week.

"We can always consider measures like shutting down, giving people tickets. I believe that in this time people have to go outside. We need to attend to people's mental health," Schaaf said on May 8.

City officials say people can also get exercise by using the neighborhood streets that have been blocked off to traffic.