On a night that saw four people shot near Lake Merritt and no arrests made, a legion of passionate dog owners occupied most of the evening's public comment at the Oakland City Council meeting Tuesday. The debate had to do with a decade-long fight for a fenced off dog play area in a grassy area at MacArthur Boulevard and Lakeshore Avenue, near the lake, and in total the public comment portion dragged on for more than three hours, with 173 people signed up to speak. You can see some of the Twitter evidence here.
The proposed off-leash play area would be some 21,000 square feet, and various groups and individuals have been advocating for it for years. Meanwhile, a bunch of people have opposed the plan, feeling like a dog park would be too loud or disruptive in this highly central location. And the Oakland Planning commission rejected the park plan earlier this year. Currently, dogs are not permitted in or around Lake Merritt's 150 acres, either on- or off-leash.
As of last night, the Council was still at an impasse over the park, with Council member Jane Brunner absent. They came up one vote short of the needed five to approve the park, with Councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Rebecca Kaplan, Nancy Nadel and Ignacio De La Fuente voting in favor.
Meanwhile, others spoke during the public comment period about their homes being broken into multiple times, and at around 10:20 p.m., as the commenters commented on, four people were shot on East 18th Street, not far from Lake Merritt, in what one neighbor describes as automatic-weapon fire and at least 20 shots. CBS5 reports that "over a dozen" shots were fired. All four people were injured but not killed, and no arrests have been made.