The 90-year-old Oakland Zoo is home to giraffes, tortoises and African elephants. Now Zoo officials are asking Alameda County residents for additional funds to take care of those animals. Under Measure A1, a parcel tax would pay for repairs, veterinary care and field trips for schoolchildren. But opponents of Measure A1 claim the Zoo intends to use part of the $114 million proceeds for a controversial expansion project.

Measure A1: Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax 22 October,2012forum

Ruth Malone, co-chair of Friends of Knowland Park, an advocacy group that aims to protect the 500-acre Wildland Park in Oakland from development and a professor in the school of nursing at UCSF
Nik Dehejia, director of strategic initiatives for The Oakland Zoo

  • Gloria

    Why should the property owners shoulder the cost? I’m not a property owner but I’m concerned that folks who already shoulder much of the cost for many things are being asked for more.

  • Tom In Oakland

    If Measure A1 isn’t about the Expansion, why isn’t it written explicitly to say what it IS for OTHER than that. And if the Zoo cares so much about Knowland Park’s future, why won’t they pledge in writing to protect the undeveloped parts, leaving them undeveloped and protected in perpetuity?

  • John

    Nick claims it is $12 per year. It is $12 -$16 per 100k per year. A typical house in the bay area is 400k, therefore it would be $50 a year for a zoo that would be better as a wild animal reserve.

    • stilettoace

      Not to mention that businesses, large and small, will pay $72/year. But everyone knows, businesses don’t pay taxes. Customers pay more for their goods and services, so it’s people who pay taxes.
      We all knew that, right?

  • Chemist150

    I’ve been to Oakland zoo… I feel that most zoos are cruel in that they trap animals in rather small areas. Oakland should not be keeping large animals. The elephant habitat looked tiny. While expansion might help. I resent the fact that I may be forced to financially support what I consider cruel treatment of animals… Although in Oakland, it’s common to enslave dogs in tiny back yards and leave them pinned up alone when they’re meant to be pack animals with large territorial range.
    Here is one “NO” vote.

  • Tom in Oakland

    Open books! Let the sunshine in! Measure A1 money will be poorly spent without true public oversight.

  • Forum Producer

    Here is the East Bay Express article “Oakland Zoo Operators Violate the Election Laws” referenced during the show: http://bit.ly/S6a1rL

  • I wasn’t planning to vote for Measure A1 because we’re already paying about 18 parcel taxes in Oakland and the burden is mounting. But listening to the opponent tempts me to change my mind. They sound like NIMBYs who are using native plants as their cover story to prevent anything from being built in their neighborhood. This particular excuse is getting mighty old and less and less appealing.

    • Gabriele Allen

      Actually what is getting mighty old is the use of the term NIMBY, because people around the globe have come to understand, that it is usually the people who live in proximity of problematic situation, who first become aware of it and then form a movement to protect something. In fact it appears that the accusation of NIMBY ism is used very deliberately by the defenders of big projects, that cause harm to people and or the environment, to weaken the credibility of the opponents. The Knowland coalition unlike the Zoo operator provides ample evidence for it’s arguments, and can be read by people, who bother to read extensive materials and are willing to apply the human gift of differentiated thinking, on the website saveknowland.org

      • Cute_fuzzy_NIMBYs

        Actually, what is getting mighty old is the idea that humane care for zoo animals in Alameda County are being used as a political football, much like Rebublicans use women’s vajayjay’s to score points with the Christian right and its misogynistic members.

    • Cute_fuzzy_NIMBYs

      I agree with Million_Trees. Sadly, I think if this type of political opposition prevails (similar to how it did in George Lucas’ battle with Marin county) that we will be left with a struggling cultural amenity that has been successfuly portrayed as “the evil empire” by a group of vocal, passionate, but also wrong headed and backwards focussed special interests. If the zoo is not able to stay vibrant and relavent, what will tax payers and neighbors get in its place? Last I heard, George Lucas is persuing a land sale with a developer of affordable housing. I’m sure the friends of Knowland and the larger community of Alameda County would not be happy if something like that outcome befell the Oakland Zoo as well.

      • Beth Wurzburg

        The “wrong-headed and backwards focussed special interests” of are the Zoo expansionists. You can’t be a conservationist and destroy rare habitat at the same time. It’s doesn’t add up. Knowland Park was deeded to Oakland on the condition that it remain a park open to the public, so it’s not housing development that’s threatening the park. It’s the zoo’s wanting to take 56 acres of public property and fencing it to put in a restaurant, gift shop, and admin building with Bay views that’s the the real threat. Wanting to tax the public to help pay for it is adding insult to injury.

    • Diana

      Do we need a zoo expansion? Is it crucial right at the moment? Do you want to pay for it with your tax dollars?

    • Beth Wurzburg

      I live more than 7 miles from the zoo, but I’m voting against A1. Right now Knowland Park is open, public wildlands with spectacular and rare habitat, animals, and plants. It’s *free* and it’s gorgeous. I’m voting “no” so that 100 years from now someone doesn’t have to say “Why did they build all this stuff here, it must have been spectacular”.

  • Meredith

    I think that it is perfectly reasonable for the members of the community
    to support the Zoo, with a modest tax of $12/year. The Zoo has been in
    its home in Knowland Park for over 70 years. There are a number of
    infrastructure projects related to the existing zoo facilities that need upgrading.
    Things like sewers and storm drains, electrical systems, etc. You
    can’t expect that the Oakland Zoo can afford to fund large-scale projects like
    that while keeping admission rates low and continuing to support their mission
    of conservation and education. I’m happy to support the zoo with some
    community funding. I think that it’s one of
    the really great places that we have in Alameda County.

    • juniper666

      It isn’t $12/yr. Reread the measure and become fully informed. It is $12 for $100,000 of value of the property, plus $72 to businesses, small or large.

      The zoo made $6m in profit last year. The zoo currently receives public support from the City of Oakland — this year amounting to approximately $539,000 from the general fund and $220,000 from the city’s hotel tax — as well as from the East Bay Regional Park District, including up to $700,000 annually from its general fund and $4 million grants in 1988 and 2008 from park measures AA and WW. The CEO makes over $200K a year. They have simply mismanaged their money and want more.

      Conservation is not pavement.

    • Adri Restrepo

      The funny thing is that you don’t sound like a critical thinking human. You sound like a broken record repeating the zoo’s propaganda. It will be nice if for once we could hear in these forums people representing the zoo expressing themselves with individual voices; exposing facts for what ever they say it is truth or a lie. Acting like adults that have the responsibility to vote, exercising their reasoning, and challenging the bait of a cute children cartoon. Grow up and take responsibility. Think for yourself!

  • Adri Rpo

    does the Zoo representative keeps saying “allegations” while
    “Friends of Knowland Park” have facts for all this being exposed?

  • MLB

    Volunteers of Friends of Knowland Park has been in the community providing information about Knowland Park and what it has to offer for FREE. This organization is awesome.

    The zoo has had more money than it has needed for many years. So why does it need more? I don’t think they need more money at this time. Micheline in Oakland

  • Fred

    I have 18, count em 18 assessments on my property tax bill for over $700. There is NO way I’m voting for any more pet project property tax assessments.

  • Tom in Oakland

    The oversight committee is not publicly elected. Why should public funds be overseen by private individuals?

  • Asking if it’s worth funding the zoo with a property tax when there are other priorities like crime and job creation doesn’t fly with me because it’s not an either/or option. It’s not like there’s another property tax that will pay for extra police on the ballot and that can’t pass if A1 does. The correct question to ask is, “Is a property tax a legitimate way to fund the zoo?” My answer is yes because it makes Alameda County a more valuable place to live.

    • Gabriele Allen

      I have lived in Oakland for 17 years. During this time many people have moved for example from San Francisco to Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro,Emeryville, Berkeley, because SF became to expensive for families in particular. I had conservations with many, who shared with me why the love the East Bay – but nobody ever mentioned the Zoo. Among the reasons listed are the warmer weather, more natural environment, great communities. What makes Oakland great are things like the Art Murmur, or the Saturday morning happening with live music and great artists at and around Lake Merritt Farmers Market. People [ tons of them] playing on the grassy field and playground outside the Lake Merritt library,hundreds of people walking/ running around the lake, a free shuttle bus running on Broadway, connecting points of interest in Downtown Oakland, a growing powerful urban farming community in the East Bay, Organizations like Planting Justice and Save the Bay, individuals like Kelly Carlisle, who started up a youth urban farm project on a 1/4 acre plot in East Oakland, an area some people refer to as the ghetto, coffee shops with “parklets” to sit and enjoy fair trade coffee. These are only a few of the things that make Oakland a great place to live. It is sad that some city council members believe, that they need a bigger and glossier Zoo as poster child for Oakland and were willing to make a decision, that sacrifices precious ecosystems in the largest open space in the city. And Measure A1, as it states black on white [ if people were just willing to read the full text] will undoubtedly help finance the expansion and therewith intrusion and destruction of a large part of the park. And the folks who still don’t believe it, may help me wonder why the city ran a feasibility poll for a parcel tax for the zoo, only two weeks after the project was approved in June 2011. Does that not strike you as curious? Where are the critical thinking skills, that are so highly valued in this society and which are an emphasis in every school curriculum today?

    • juniper666

      On what planet does paying higher taxes on your property equate to a more valuable place to live? Our property taxes are already high. That impacts property values and one’s ability to buy or sell land. When that tax burden continues to increase unhindered, for pet projects like the zoo’s, we all lose.

      Open space is harder to come by than buildings and fenced off areas. THAT is valuable.

  • Lewis Lubin

    If this is not about expansion why does the Measure include language about development?

    • Gabriele Allen

      Exactly, why. I have ask people, who are campaigning for yes on Measure A1, and they said, and I quote here: “I don’t know.”

  • Elizabeth

    Wild animals should take precedence over captive animals–especially with rare wildlife living in Knowland Park. Once open space is gone it’s gone forever. I’m voting against A1.

  • Laura Baker

    This is Laura Baker of the California Native Plant Society.The expansion is not a done deal. The Zoo has not received its regulatory permits from US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game. These are not gimmes–the reason that they don’t have their permits is because the expansion project has been planned to be cited upon environmentally sensitive land that the regulatory agencies are deeply concerned about.

    And the zoo has not yet produced ANY proof that it has the moeny to pay for this expansion, regardless of the fact that their own management agreement witht he city requires this.

    • Gabriele Allen

      Thank you for pointing out these important facts.

  • Scott Law

    The Zoo is a gem for Oakland and should be supported for both the current footprint and any expansion. I would be more interested in Krasne exploring who this opposition really is. Knowland Park is ok, but is covered in poison oak to the point it is unusable at some times. We have been there at east ten times at different times of day – and have never seen an animal of any kind This space is no more pristine than any other location in the East Bay hills – the the vociferous assertion by the small group of anit Zoo activist is some sort of small Yosemite is very puzzling and leads me to believe there is some other agenda ( such as NIMBY by surrounding neighbors…)

    • Gabriele Allen

      Two month ago, on a mid morning walk, a full grown coyote crossed the trail I hiked just about 20 yards in front of me. He stopped in his path, turned his head and looked at me. I also had stopped in surprise. We looked at each other for a moment, then he trotted off undisturbed. I like to go at dusk or on a full moon night, where I frequently meet the Greyhorned Owl. I have taken my children and their friends many times, who usually become exhilarated out there.Such encounters with nature do not compare to standing in front of a Zoo exhibit and look at captive wild animals. I have been often to the Zoo, when my children were younger. They usually lost interest after a short time, and so did many other children. Most children are most eager to get to the rides area at the Zoo. The children’s Zoo is also fantastic, mostly for it’s water play and the ability to pet the goats. It is true that there is a lot of poison oak in Knowland Park, which is a native plant and belongs there. Fortunately there is currently enough trail space to enjoy a full hour of walking in the park, save from possible contact with poison oak. With the Zoo expansion the trails will be cut by roughly 50%, and the children’s play are in the California Exhibit, as it is in the plans now, will bring a lot of noise up in the park, which will keep a lot of the wild animals away. Their territories become smaller and smaller in urban environments. Let’s be honest and READ the Measure A1[ if you are willing to read that much]. Clearly this measure will provide the Zoo with the extra funds it desperately needs to finance this environmentally insensible expansion!

    • Beth Wurzburg

      The zoo should be supported for ANY expansion?! Absolutely NOT. This is open public space, not the zoo’s property. Your disrespectful comments about your opponents show the same disregard as the zoo does for the California native wildlife. Anything that stands in the way of your bulldozer is to be belittled.

  • Amy Gotliffe

    From Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at the Oakland Zoo. Measure A1 is supported by many many local and international conservation – organizations. These groups know us – and know the endless work we do locally and all over the world for animals and habitats. It is the Oakland Zoo that is maintaining the creek on the grounds of knowland park, we conserve the western pond turtle and do vet work on the california condor. Our new vet center is LEED certified. Conservation is in our mission.

    • Gabriele Allen

      And why do these conservation efforts do not include Knowland Park, which by the way the Zoo accepted maintenance responsibilities for and maintains it poorly. Knowland Park can be used as an educational resource as it is right now or could be improved with an interpretative trail. The Zoo could offer guided tours into the park for it’s visitors and camping events can take place at any time. When we go camping in other State or National Park, there is no fence around us to protect us from wild animals. I understand that you want to believe, that Measure A1 funds are meant exclusively for animal care, but written evidence proves that there is no ground for your believe. You are a very intelligent woman, and I am sure that you are an expert at what you do and obviously passionate about it. That makes you a great employee. And am also sure that there is a lot to be proud of at the Zoo. But it does not mean that you have to become gullible for the politics of the Zoo Ceo’s.

    • Diana

      Why build your massive 34,000 sq ft restaurant, gift shop, offices, museum on an Alameda whip snake habitat if your worried about conservation? And why if the zoo cares about Knowland park why has it been dumping it’s junk up there for years? Also fencing in 56 acres that is already used by wild animals like mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and foxes doesn’t sound like conservation is your mission.

    • juniper666

      I walked down to that creek recently. It’s absolutely full of the very invasive plants the zoo is supposed to be eradicating. The zoo has NO standing to claim conservation as it plans to pave over the largest open space remaining in Oakland. You PROTECT that land, not fence it in to make more money. Conservation may be in your mission, but it is well below profit.

  • Fred

    I have 18, countem 18 property tax assessments on my property tax bill totalling over $750 on a small 1 bedroom condo. No more property tax assessements for “pet” projects.

    • In May 2012 the Alameda County Board of supervisors met and one of the items discussed was a property tax assessment which later came to be known as measure A1. This was discussed in an article in the San Jose Mercury News, by a reporter who attended this meeting. After delays in fulfilling the publics right to these same minutes and agenda, they were belatedly obtained and NO mention, in either the agenda or minutes of the property tax appeared. This article then somehow mysteriously disappeared from the Mercury News archives. Fortunately copies were made before this disappearance. On July 24th, the last day of the legislative session before summer recess, this ballot measure was put forward by the board. The measure was filed by the zoological society with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office, in the last hours of the last day for filing of for and against statements to be included in the voters information pamphlet. The coaltion members who filed the opposition statement earlier in the afternoon of that day learned at that time that the zoo had not as yet filed. Was all this accidental or was this possibly an attempt to keep an opposition statement from appearing in the voters information pamphlet? Will you place your trust in an institution, giving carte blance to spend 25 years of approximately 5-6 million dollars a year, in any way they choose, (READ THE TEXT OF THE MEASURE) as long as it does so for zoo related purposes in Alameda county? The zoological society evades in every way possible revealing to the public how they spend their moneys,as well as the sources of these millions. The oversite committee, to quote Dr. Malone, is a “paper tiger”, consisting of a hand picked group of private individuals, with no publicly elected oversite. These and many more, not allegations as Mr. Dehejia repeatedly stated, but clearly documented facts, can be found at http://www.saveknowland.org. I also encourage all thoughful voters to take a close look at http://www.itsyourzoo.org and read for yourself what they claim to be a “complete” expenditure plan. I will not trust my tax dollars, for 25 years, to a private institution which has a near complete lack of financial transparency, which has made a profit of over $500,000 five out of the last six years, whose director of strategic initiatives first denied, and later slipped aside from the zoo ceo’s statement at a public forum that they were spending $1,000,000 on the yes on A1 campaign, before an audience that may be viewed by anyone, by saying, “I wasn’t there”. Now they say out of one side of their mouth we need your tax dollars for animal care, for childrens education, to pay the vets, for infrastructure repairs, and out of the other side, “the expansion is a done deal.” Where lies the truth in this tale of suberfuge and obfuscation? Where lie the millions of dollars in money from the public they already receive? I urge voters to read the measure, look closely at these websites, and join me and the rapidly growing number of sceptics who don’t trust that man behind the curtain, despite the fact that the zoo, as it exists now, does good works and provides humane animal care, in voting NO on tax measure A1.

  • Tom in Oakland

    Nik’s continued claims that Ruth was lying ring false. Personal attacks are the first evidence of demagoguery.

  • Barbara in Orinda

    Ruth made some compelling arguments as to why Alameda County voters should question this measure–lack of transparency about the Zoo’s proposed expansion, conflicting information from different representatives about campaign expenditures, denial of campaign irregularities, the lack of acknowledgment of large amounts of funding already received from the state and county. Further, it is not at all clear why the Zoo is suddenly taking on the care of old circus animals, something that competes with and takes away from the costly genetic conservation of wild animals. The expansion of the Zoo is a troubling issue. A thinking person would vote No on A1.

  • FelidaeFund

    From Ally Nauer, Development Manager at Felidae Conservation Fund

    Felidae Conservation Fund (www.felidaefund.org) and the Bay Area Puma Project (www.bapp.org) support measure A1 and the Zoo’s excellent work in environmental education. We believe, like the Zoo, that maintaining and increasing education and outreach to communities and students about what keeps ecosystems healthy are important actions (especially the local Bay Area and California) to preserve our environment. Education regarding our local ecosystems specifically is largely missing from the current curriculum/education in schools and preserving programs that provide that is very important to increase awareness in our Bay Area communities.

    We’ve been working with the Oakland Zoo for years on many projects, including the local Bay Area Puma Project – including, educational presentations on mountain lions, veterinary support on our projects, bringing environmental awareness to the community, and more – And we have seen how the Zoo is a leading local conservationist doing great work in environmental education.

    Therefore, we support measure A1.

    • Mimi

      The points you raise are exactly what baffle me the most about the Zoo’s expansion plans into Knowland Park. How can an institution that does such an admirable job in so many facets of education and conservation be so set on an expansion that will incur such environmental destruction? Why did the the zoo board bring these conflicts upon itself by relocating the site from one that the community agreed to in 1996 to one that is a half a mile up the hill? If the zoo is a leading local conservationist as you believe it to to be, why isn’t the preservation of open space part of its agenda? You and I are not on the sides of this ballot issue, but speaking as one environmentalist to another, why doesn’t the environmental cost of the expansion site in Knowland Park concern you?

    • Beth Wurzburg

      I don’t understand – “educational presentations on mountain lions … bringing environmental awareness to the community … to preserve the environment” but you support the destruction of mountain lion habitat? Would you really rather have a canned “California wildlife *display*, than the real thing? And how can you say that the zoo is a leading local conservationist when it’s proposing to destroy rare habitat for wild and endangered animals and plants? Or is this a case of “do as I say and not as I do”? Really, this is too ridiculous.

    • Karen Smith

      The only possible reason I can think of for the Bay Area Puma Project to support the zoo’s Knowland Park expansion project and Measure A1 funding is that your organnization has been bought off by the zoo. Until very recently, BAPP was listed as one of the receipients of an unspecified percentage of the zoo’s admission fee intake as part of its “Quarters for Conservation” PR campaign. I guess it didn’t look good to have this financial connection posted on the zoo’s website. The zoo’s Knowland Park expansion would destroy the crucial Bay Area mountain lion habitat BAPP is supposed to be studying. Your position here is a travesty.

  • Laura Baker

    Now that I’ve heard the entire program, I have to state how shocking it is to hear the blatant lies that Nik Dehejia told on air. It’s almost as if the zoo executives have said, So what if we lie, we just want to win the election. Here are but a few of the lies told on air. We will be listening to the re-broadcast and documenting the rest this evening.

    1. Many of us were present at the Piedmont League of Women Voters forum when Joel Parrott, CEO of the Zoo, said quite clearly that the zoo is spending $1 million on its campaign. That Nik would attempt to deny this, and then try to weasel out of it by saying he wasn’t there is reprehensible. And it says everything about the lack of credibility that the zoo has shown with respect to its finances.
    2. As for the East Bay Express’s article that discussed the numerous campaign law violations that the zoo has engaged in, which Nik claimed were false, again this is another lie. The zoo’s campaign headquarters were located at the zoo itself, in violation not only of City law but of its own management agreement with the city which plainly states that the zoo grounds may not be used for any political purposes.
    3. Further, we asked the Oakland City Attorney to investigate the posting of campaign signs on the property. When Michael Krasny asked Nik about that, he said it was a few over-eager volunteers. Talk about throwing your volunteers to the lions! The Zoo management itself had posted a giant banner on the hillside overlooking 580–this wasn’t overexuberance on the part of volunteers–this was part of the campaign package deal that the zoo execs signed off on and which was displayed with their approval.

    4. Ruth Malone didn’t sue the zoo, as NIk claimed: the California Native Plant Society–a statewide organization of nearly 10,000 members–joined the Friends of Knowland Park in the suit.

  • Gabriele Allen

    How can Mr Dehejia make the statement, that Measure A 1 funds will be solely used for animal care and educational programs, when the measure explicitly states in Chapter 2.30, H. that “Financing the construction of new or renovation of existing Oakland Zoo capital facilities is within the definition of services and projects”? The words NEW CAPITAL FACILITIES have no place in the measure, unless there is the intention to spend at least some of the funds for the construction of new facilities. Knowing that the zoo expansion plan has been approved, it defies logic to believe that the Zoo operator will not use Measure A1 funds for this project. It actually offends people’s intelligence to issue statements such as Mr Dehejia’s one to day on Forum. Also $12 per year parcel tax may not sound much, but it amounts to 5-6 million dollars every year for 25 years, which would allow the Zoo operators not only to build the massive expansion but also operate it over the years, which currently they obviously do not have the funds for, since they are asking for funds to support it’s current operation. One may also want to consider that it is likely this tax will increase sometime over 25 years!

  • Cecilia

    is it possible that the “director of strategic initiatives for The
    Oakland Zoo” responds that he didn’t know about Parrot’s response
    on expending one million dollar’s on the A1 campaign? Isn’t this
    something that he should know? Do we want to give them all this money
    when they don’t even know what they are saying? Or do they think we
    are not smart enough? I am for the Zoo if I can trust them… but all
    this evasiveness and misrepresentation is really making me vote
    against it.

    • stilettoace

      I could smell Nik’s pants burning right through the radio.

    • Ira

      Were the animals of Mr. Parrot fasting while he was squandering one million on the campaign? Well, this is an eloquent proof that Zoo does not need more money. He was able to campaign not even taking pay-cut.

  • East Bay Teacher

    Dr Ruth Malone’s points were compelling. Her concern was obviously for the environment and for the wildlife currently living in Knowland Park. Nik Dehejia came across as a slippery politician. He first denied absolutely that the zoo had invested $1,000,000 in their A1 campaign and then, when pressed harder, scooted around the point. He denied the zoo was breaking the law with regard to their campaign practices — and then shifted the blame to zealous volunteers who had put up signs on zoo (public) property. His attack on Dr Malone was one of the tip offs that he was on shaky ground and he immediately lost credibility when he switched to a personal attack rather than being honest about the issues Michael was raising.
    As a teacher (for 30 years), I would like to ask the question: do children really need adults interpreting nature for them (at vast expense to both the environment and the tax payers)? Or is it better to guide children in the basic principles of respect for the environment and “do no harm to all living things” and then allow them to interact directly and safely with a natural environment that is full of wildlife?
    Knowland Park, in my opinion, is the perfect teaching environment. All the children I have taken there have been filled with awe and wonder.
    The top priority should be to preserve this treasure for children to enjoy and learn from rather than destroying it with zoo offices and a visitor center for children to learn indirectly (from talks and plaques) about the animals that once roamed freely there and the rare plants that used to grow there before the visitor center was built.

  • Gloria

    I get that both sides are going to sound like typical “politics.” I go back to the property owner… The one being asked to foot this bill. The argument that saying yes makes the Bay Area a more attractive place to live and this raises property values doesn’t help the owner struggling to pay their tax bill. You’d have to sell the house before seeing the benefit. Would people support this “only $12 a year” if it were a county sales tax? It would only be a small percentage of your purchase, right? I love animals and I love the zoo and I think why they do is important. I also think we need to be responsible and not add another bill to our plate if it’s not vital or if funds can be raised through the private sector. Raise the entrance fees, work your fundraisers… a tax is not appropriate. I say this as a liberal, animal loving/owning, non real estate owning Democrat.

  • Jean Robertson

    If you just walk around in the over grazed and under stewarded grasslands in Knowland Park, (as one of the comment writers perhaps has done), you may not be aware that the park also contains very rare stands of native coastal prairie, beautiful oak woodland with huge twisted oak trees, and a very rare maritime chaparral plant community which contains lots of rare brittleleaf manazanita, among other chaparral plants. The associated plants and reptiles and insects and birds and mammals of these places are abundant. Because one person walked in one part of the park and ‘didn’t see anything’ doesn’t mean it’s not living out there. Some of the most valuable habitats in Knowland Park are farther down the hill in steeper areas, and closer to the zoo. The valuable, rare and precious eco-systems and areas are what the zoo wants to build its expansion on, because it’s convenient to them and it is the most beautiful part of the park. (though it won’t be after the construction work trashes the natural areas). It is not about nimby-ism that people are so passionate about preserving this valuable land and habitats for current and future generations. People are working their butts off to oppose the careless and grandiose zoo expansion plan because they love nature, find it immensely restorative, appreciate the precious spots in Knowland Park (in Oakland’s very own back yard), and want these wild places to be there for future generations of people and for current and future generation of other living beings.

  • Nancy Graalman

    I post this comment as director of Defense of Place, a national
    organization that seeks to protect public parkland and natural resources whose original deeds of trust have been breached for development and sale. Such is the betrayal we see in Oakland in the Zoo’s disdain for the conditions of the state’s 1975 conveyance of Knowland Park to the City (and people) of Oakland. The fraught-with-irregularities parcel tax measure and the troubling prevarications by the Zoo and Zoological Society should halt the measure at the ballot box. However, equally disturbing is the Zoo’s hijacking of such terms “conservation” in order to excavate Knowland Park’s wild and natural landscape for fences, cages, a gondola and – worst of all – the three-story “interpretative center” (which is the favorite term we’ve seen nationwide when administrators want a new office building, especially one that might afford spectacular views) .

  • Amy Gotliffe

    To Gabriele:
    Thank you for your compliments:) One thing we do not always do is take the time to promote the conservation work we are doing – and I wish more people knew. We do steward the local habitat of Knowland park. It is us — our staff, myself, and caring neighbors who want a healthy local ecosystem that clean the creek, do erosion control and pull invasive species. The California Trail project will include more of that — one of the reasons I am so looking forward to it.

    • Diana

      A heathy local ecosystem can not be fenced in. We need deer, mountain lions, coyotes, foxes and bobcats to roam free for a heathy ecosystem. Also the zoo has been fly tipping in the park for years which makes me question it’s dedication to conservation.

    • stilettoace

      So you’re the one responsible for all the overgrazing by goats?

  • Beth Wurzburg

    I’m voting NO on A1 because 100 years from now, when someone walks over that ridge in Knowland Park, I don’t want them to say “why did they build all this stuff here, it must have been gorgeous”. Knowland Park is the real deal – real wildland, real wild California animals, open space, free to the public. Do you really want to sacrifice that for a fenced-in restaurant/gift shop/admin building and an exhibit *about* California wildlife?

  • Regarding Michael’s question on the air about the very placement of this
    measure on the ballot: I didn’t feel we had time to discuss that at length in a half hour show, but I would like the public to know the FACTS about the measure and how it got on the ballot. Despite claims that it was an open process, it was very much NOT an open process; rather, it was done in the most secretive possible way, clearly
    intended to try to prevent there being ANY argument against the measure in the
    voter handbook. (see chronology below) . Were it not for one SJ Mercury News
    reporter writing a story that someone sent to us, the plan would have
    succeeded. This isn’t how good government is supposed to work.

    The measure was first discussed at a special retreat on May 8. The
    Agenda (see url below) includes NO MENTION OF THE OAKLAND ZOO OR ANY PARCEL TAX
    MEASURE. See Agenda from the Alameda County website:


    The Minutes of that meeting (url below) include NO MENTION OF THE
    from the Alameda County website:


    The only way the public could have learned about this
    measure at that time was to have happened to have
    attended the meeting (without any notice or indication that this matter would
    be discussed) or to read the brief story in the San Jose Mercury News (a
    non-Alameda County paper) which has since mysteriously vanished altogether
    from the Mercury News archives, and for some reason keeps disappearing from
    other caches, but I found it here:


    We were only alerted to the retreat discussion by the news article,
    which someone sent to us. Following this, repeated attempts to obtain copies of
    the materials discussed at the retreat through the County Supervisors’ Office
    were met with claims that no one knew anything about a Zoo parcel tax measure (perhaps not surprising as neither the Agenda nor the Minutes
    mention it anywhere). Full materials from that meeting are still not
    available and the Minutes are in only the most summary form, merely stating
    that updates were provided. There are no attachments available on the website.
    There is no audio or video available.

    The next and only other appearance of this matter was at a July 24
    meeting, the last item on the last meeting before the Supervisors’ recess,
    where the Measure was approved for the ballot. However, the minutes of this meeting were still not posted until long after the deadline for filing an argument in
    opposition had passed, so we could not determine whether the Agenda version was
    indeed the approved version until the measure was submitted to the Registrar of

    The measure was submitted to the Registrar of Voters in the late
    afternoon of the last day for submission, August 10. Even then, our understanding is that changes can be made in the
    measure for up to five days.

    The public ought to know about all
    this. Whether they agree or don’t with our primary objection to the measure
    because of environmental concerns about the Zoo’s costly and destructive
    expansion plan, this whole thing smells deeply of the worst kind of bad political
    backroom dealing. As citizens, we have a right to full information and the
    ability to participate meaningfully in decisions that affect us. It’s shameful
    that we have to constantly file open records act requests just to find out what
    is going on.
    I don’t know if the retreat discussion violated the letter of the Brown Act (and haven’t had time to look into it further), but it most certainly violated its spirit. The fact that the story reporting on the retreat discussion keeps being“disappeared” from web caches makes me wonder if it isn’t being done in an attempt to cover up a Brown Act violation, but maybe it’s just total coincidence. In any case, the idea that this measure was placed on the ballot after an open public process is a blatant falsehood.

  • Cute_fuzzy_NIMBYs

    One can’t be a real about the complex nature of conservation and be so unabashedly myopic as Ruth Malone.
    Conservation is more than what it is preported by Friends of Knowland and its political allies. Needs of this special interest must be balanced with the needs of the county. The Oakland Zoo is a regional leader in conservation education for citizens and young people, wildlife conservation research, humane care of wild animals, and provider of vibrant cultural offerings. If the Oakland Zoo isn’t allowed by its neigbhors to look forward and stay vibrant and relevant, then the risk is that we will be left with a subpar facility whose decline benefits absolutely no one, including those that are passionate about Knowland Park.
    The assumptive manner Ms. Malone models for the group she chairs makes me cringe. The Oakland Zoo has helped so many in our community in numerous ways and made us all richer for it. I feel sorry for those like Malone who close themselves off from the ability to see the big picture and balance many competing needs, rather than only see the things that support their own narrowly defined advocacy.

    • Ira

      A man by name Bob enjoys walking everyday in Knowland park, so his wife and his dog. He’s former Zoo board member and one day I saw him taking down “Save Knowland park” flyers. This how Zoo volunteers act.

      • juniper666

        They broke onto our property, cutting our fence, and took our No on A1 signs. The only people I see in this thread and others that support the zoo stand to make money from A1. The Zoo has been known to dump trash into the park and has failed to eradicate the invasive plants they promised to remove even directly next to the zoo. Parrot is all about money. Conservation, land, wildlife mean nothing to him.

  • Mack Casterman

    Nik Dehejia responded to Michael Krasny’s question about the East Bay Express Article that found the Oakland Zoo in violation of numerous campaign laws by blaming “a few excited, eager volunteers” for the illegal campaign signs on zoo property. However, from the pictures posted in the links below (which include posts on the Zoo’s own website), it is obvious that these pro-A1 campaign signs, including a large banner on the hillside overlooking 580, represent the work of much more than a few over-exuberant volunteers –these posters were part of the Zoo’s calculated campaign effort and could not have been displayed without the knowledge and approval of those overseeing the Zoo’s A1 campaign program.

    If zoo executives can’t even be truthful about their use of campaign signs, how can they be expected to be honest with over $125 million of Alameda County tax dollars?

    Mr. Dehejia did not respond directly to the fact that the
    Zoo’s A1 campaign headquarters are illegally located on City property.

    Pictures of illegally posted A1 signs on City property from saveknowland.org:

    Zoo blog, showing signs illegally posted on City property:
    Also here:

    CSU East Bay’s student paper, The Pioneer, with photo of a A1 sign placed in a zoo exhibit:
    The caption says, “Signs for ‘Yes on Measure A1’ are strategically placed throughout exhibits in the Oakland Zoo.”

    I am hopeful that Forum will run a correction notice in a future broadcast to ensure that Mr. Dehejia’s false statements are fact checked and corrected so as to ensure that the KQED Forum program is not helping spread misinformation to the voting public.

  • juniper666

    I see these manipulative little signs for Yes on A1, implying if we don’t vote Yes on A1 the fuzzies will be the injured parties. If the zoo has taken on more animals than they can afford, they aren’t responsible stewards for these animals. It costs a family over $100 to visit the zoo, and the line backs onto the freeway daily. While schools and libraries close, they want more money because they’ve been reckless with the money they have? I was not convinced by Nik’s comments on this measure one bit.

  • juniper666

    If you want to know more about the ethics of the zoo, the East Bay Express has an excellent research piece regarding how the zoo is violating voting laws. These people are desperate. Ask yourself why:

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