Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tonight's City Planning Commission Decision on Oakland Zoo Postponed

By Nate Seltenrich
Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 11:09 AM

As we noted in last week's story about the Oakland Zoo's controversial amended expansion plans, Oakland's City Planning Commission was set to reveal its decision on the matter at tonight's regularly scheduled meeting. That decision had already been delayed a month from its original deadline of March 16 after the commission decided that insufficient notice had been given for public comment.

Five weeks later, the decision is being delayed once again, this time because the city will not have a quorum (meaning a minimum of four commissioners) at the meeting. That means no official business can be conducted. In an email addressed to "interested parties," city planner Darin Ranelletti noted that the meeting has been delayed one week to Wednesday, April 27, and will still be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers at City Hall. However, the city's website incorrectly still lists the April 20 date.

As originally expressed by the commission in the ground rules for the April 20 meeting, no further public comment will be taken on the zoo’s amended expansion plan at the April 27 meeting. Instead, comment will be welcome only on the commission’s decision itself.

If approved, the project could go before the full city council as soon as next month. If it passes council, it could break ground shortly thereafter — unless it's stopped by a lawsuit from neighbors and environmentalists arguing for a full environmental impact report. Construction would be performed in phases, with a projected final completion date of 2017. If the commission or council does not approve the amendment, zoo officials say they'd have to revert to their more impactful original 1998 expansion plan.

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