‘Disneyland-sized crowds’ creating crisis at poppy bloom, Lake Elsinore officials say

by in News

Desperate Lake Elsinore officials, saying the city has been overrun by “Disneyland-sized crowds” viewing the prolific California poppy bloom, said on Saturday, March 16, that there is a “public safety crisis” and urged visitors to reschedule their pilgrimages to the colorful attraction.

“The city has expended all available resources to address the #SuperBloom,” officials said on the city’s Instagram account. “We have brought in all available staff, as many outside traffic controllers that we could, more shuttles, and our small city cannot sustain crowds of this magnitude — our city is not made for Disneyland size crowds. We have reached out to our neighboring and county agencies for help. We have reached out to Caltrans. We have reached out to CHP. We are running out of options.”

Mayor Steve Manos, in a Facebook post, said 50,000 people showed up Saturday. One employee was struck by a hit-and-run driver and a visitor was bitten by a rattlesnake. No additional details on those incidents were available Saturday.

The Instagram post asked residents to stay out of the area of the poppy blooms that are carpeting Walker Canyon north of the city.

“Visitors: If you can come another day or a weekday, please do. The wait times are increasing, the shuttles are stuck in traffic, and we encourage you to consider waiting for another day,” the post said.

Authorities are looking to ease traffic congestion in Walker Canyon and discourage illegal parking on the freeway, amid Southern California’s most prolific wildflower bloom in years. Police and the California Highway Patrol planned to step up traffic enforcement Saturday and Sunday and issue citations for illegal parking, officials said.

Officials said they are doing the best they can and know the community has expressed concerns.

“People are creating chaos out there and we have already had an injury. This is a public safety crisis so we ask your support,” they wrote.

Manos asked for patience “as we navigate this craziness and apologize for the inconvenience. Hang in there!”