[Fosc] City Council vote on easement in Knowland Park

Beth Wurzburg wurzburg.beth at gmail.com
Sat Nov 15 11:54:50 PST 2014

Dear FOSCers,

I know this isn't in our watershed and that some of you really love the
zoo, but please bear with me.

The city council will vote on Tuesday evening about whether to approve a
53-acre "conservation" easement in Knowland Park, to make up for the damage
the zoo's proposed expansion will do to prime habitat for a threatened
species (Alameda whipsnake) and rare plant communities.  The easement
includes *an additional 21 acres *of the park outside the area approved for
the expansion, so the total amount of the park lost to this expansion has
increased to 77 acres (56-acre expansion plus 21 acres outside expansion).
Of those 77 acres, the public will have paid access to less than 5 acres -
mostly buildings and elevated walkways.

Whatever you think of the zoo or the amenities the expansion will offer,
this is a terrible precedent to set for our public parks and open space.  A
private entity will take a huge chunk of public parkland, damage it with
its development, and then take more of the parkland to make up for it.
Meanwhile the public will be forever barred from the 53-acre easement

The Friends of Knowland Park are asking that the city council reject the
conservation easement in order to get the zoo to work with conservation
organizations to come up with a better plan.  The zoo currently has 100
acres of Knowland Park (same area as the San Diego Zoo!) but has only
developed 45 of those acres.  The California Trail exhibit is 21 acres.

In addition to the undeveloped land within the zoo's footprint, there is
degraded land and lower quality habitat just outside the zoo's footprint
that could be used for an expansion without requiring acres of the park to
be taken for an easement.  The new vet hospital was built in one of these
areas, and the only mitigation needed was planting native grasses - not
taking acres of parkland away.  This would be a far better alternative for
wildlife and the public, and it would keep the zoo from damaging its
reputation as a conservation organization.

Yes, Knowland Park is a big park, but the expansion will take the very best
part of Knowland Park - the most sensitive habitats, the most used hiking
trails, the most biodiverse part of the park, the rarest plant communities,
the best bay area views.  It is our children's wild legacy and shouldn't be
squandered for an exhibit to *talk* about conservation, especially where
there are better ways ...

If you can come to the city council meeting on Tuesday night or want to
help out, please let us know here:


If you haven't already contacted the city council and the mayor, there's
still time to write or call:

Dist 1: Dan Kalb – dkalb at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7001
Dist 2: Pat Kernighan – pkernighan at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7002
Dist 3: Lynette McElhaney – Lmcelhaney at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7003
Dist 4: Libby Schaaf – Lschaaf at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7004
Dist 5: Noel Gallo – ngallo at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7005
Dist 6: Desley Brooks – dbrooks at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7006
Dist 7: Larry Reid – Lreid at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7007
At-large: Rebecca Kaplan – atlarge at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-7008
Mayor Jean Quan – officeofthemayor at oaklandnet.com or (510) 238-3141


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