City to Reconsider Lakeside Barbecues

City to consider easing regulations barring lakeside barbecues.


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Photo by Pat Mazzera

Oakland residents have been ignoring the rule that prohibits open-fire grilling at Lake Merritt’s Lakeside Park since the park’s recent beautification. Now, lakeside barbecuing could become legit, as city officials reconsider the ban. “It’s a good problem to have, lots of people coming out,” Dana Riley of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said of the barbecues. “But they’ve always been against the ordinance, except in designated areas, and Lakeside Park currently has none” where fires are allowed.

The impromptu parties have created some problems, including mountains of trash, mounds of hot coals, and smoke-filled air. As a quick fix, the parks department has added temporary bins and coal receptacles, Riley said. More signs explaining park rules have gone up.

In September, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission formed a subcommittee to investigate Bay Area and nationwide industry standards on the subject of open-fire barbecues before making any official changes, such as specifying designated areas for such barbecues, Riley said. Recommendations could come this spring, she estimated.

Don’t expect permanent grills to be erected, grill pits to be installed, or the entire park approved for barbecues, however; a more likely scenario, Riley said, is that portable grills and fires will be allowed in limited, designated areas equipped with proper containers for coals and city-facilitated pickup of the coals.

“Even though the ordinance says it’s not allowed, people are obviously grilling anyway,” Riley said. “I think there is quite a bit of demand for the grilling.”

In the meantime, she said, the Parks and Recreation Department has begun an educational push, sending out park ambassadors and volunteers to inform people they are required to obtain a permit for a gathering of more than 25 people and letting them know grilling is not permitted.

Will the rule-breaking result in a crack down by and citations from the Oakland Police Department? For now, apparently not.

“OPD has better things to do,” Riley said.

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