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It's very disingenuous for zoo executives to claim that the conservation easement is about environmental protection, when the only reason this additional public parkland is being required to be set aside is BECAUSE of the permanent destruction of native wildlife habitat the project will cause in its current location. But from the beginning we were told over and over there would be "no significant impact." The lies on which this project has been sold are a shaky foundation. Let's give the public a vote on whether they want their park fenced off and native habitat destroyed for this.
Have worked on trying to save the Park for many years. This is the first time a journalist has been willing/able to do the homework to actually check what we citizens have found only through dozens of painstaking public records requests. Thank you--this proposed development is built on a total web of lies and our government representatives have abdicated their responsibility to hold zoo management accountable and protect our remaining parkland resources.
Payment on bond debt isn't just choking off opportunity on this port project--the city is still paying bond debt on other projects that haven't panned out as planned. That's another reason why more residents--and policymakers-- ought to be raising questions about the wisdom of the enormous Oakland zoo expansion, even if they don't care about sacrificing their special city-owned parkland and native wildlife habitat.
The City of Oakland continues having to pay off debt on the Measure G bond that residents passed to support the expansion of the zoo when it penciled out at $23 million. Today the project has ballooned to $72 million and only a fraction of it has been built. Since the zoo has sought through last fall's Measure A1 to get even more public funding for this large capital project, which is terrifically expensive not only to build but to operate (and it doesn't have the money to operate the facility it's got), then why on earth would the City incur even further debt?
Other major capital projects that have cost city taxpayers WAY more than they ever imagined include the Oakland Coliseum, the Fox Theatre renovation, and now likely the Army Base project. Somebody always convinces our city leaders that this is the latest and best economic remedy for what ails the city. But it turns out to be snake oil, and we are still paying for it years later.
You should boldface your Measure A1 recommendation as you have the others! The public has been kept in the dark with zoo feel-good promos and denials that the measure will do anything other than care for the captive animals now in the Zoo. But the fine print makes it clear: this is about paying for the Zoo's environmentally destructive expansion into Knowland Park, fencing off existing wildlife habitat to build a huge visitor center complex with a restaurant, gift shop and offices. These (and a huge media campaign for the measure) are the Zoo's real spending priorities. Something is really wrong with this picture, and the public is figuring it out. Vote NO on Measure A1 to send a message to Zoo execs that you don't buy the package deal and you want a better expansion plan that doesn't sacrifice wildlife habitat for rides and buildings!
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