With the confusion that has been generated surrounding Measure A1, sometimes it is difficult to remember that it's even a parcel tax ($12/year per household). This is meant to provide quick information, as well as the ability to seek more in-depth information for yourselves.
This first section comes from a flyer about the Oakland Zoo and A1:
OAKLAND ZOO FACTS
FACT: The Oakland Zoo is a 90-year old community-based organization located on 42 acres in 490-acre Knowland Park
FACT: The Oakland Zoo is owned by the City of Oakland and managed by a 501c(3) non-profit, East Bay Zoological Socity
FACT: The Alameda County Board of Supervisors, not the Oakland Zoo, placed Measure A1 on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
FACT: The Oakland Zoo gets less than 5% of its budget from the City of Oakland. City contribution has declined 50% in the last few years
FACT: The Oakland Zoo received the highest rating from Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluating organization
FACT: The Oakland Zoo is annually audited by an independent public accounting firm
FACT: 30% of Zoo education programs are free; many other education programs are discounted
FACT: The Oakland Zoo has funded 200 buses (costing $120,000) to bring children to the Zoo for an outdoor, educational experience
MEASURE A1 FACTS
Voting Yes on Measure A1 will ensure the following:
-Animals are safe and enclosures are well maintained
-Animals receive appropriate food, heating/cooling and clean fresh watering system
-Sick and aging animals receive proper veterinary care
-Education programs stay affordable and accessible
-Protection of vulnerable wildlife, provide care for animals wounded in the wild and give sanctuary to endangered species
FACT: Measure A1 funds cannot be diverted to the State of California or local municipalities. Every penny must be spent in Alameda County
FACT: Measure A1 funds will be monitored by an independent oversight committee that will ensure the zoo is held fiscally accountable. By law, every penny must be spent on animal care, children's education programs, on-site conservation and visitor affordability and safety.
FACT: The oversight commitee is comprised of 9 members, representing 6 stakeholder groups and appointed by 5 agencies.
- The President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors
-President of District 4 Alameda County Board of Supervisors
-The Mayor of Oakland
-The Alameda County Mayors Conference
-Board of Trustees of the East Bay Zoological Society
-League of Women Voters
-Conservation of Environmental Group
-PTA Member or Public School Teacher
KNOWLAND PARK STEWARDSHIP
Restoration of Arroyo Viejo Creek: The zoo works to keep the Arroyo Viejo Creek in Knowland Park clean and inhabited by native plants and animals, restoring it in partnership with local conservation groups and active volunteers from the neighborhood and community. The Zoo controls eriosion, pulls non-native,s plants natives and removed garbage from these fragile waters. The Creek Crew meets on the third Saturday of the month from 10:00 am-12:00pm and all are welcome to join. The restoration project includes educational outdoor classrooms and welcomes schools and creek educational groups to use these grounds for their programs.
Planting for Wildlife: The Zoo boasts thriving pollinator gardens, welcoming local hummingbirds, bees, beetles and butterflies. The gardens are also used to educate and inspire our guests to plant for wildlife in thier yards.
Native Tree Restoration Work: Throughout Knowland Park, Zoo staff and volunteers pull invasive plans, including French broom and plant native trees and plants, creating a haven for all local wildlife.
Measure A1 is endorsed and supported by nearly 1,000 leaders including:San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Animal Care Organizations (e.g. Humane Society of the United States and In Defense of Animals) and Veterinary Leaders (e..g. Alameda County Veterinary Medical Association), local Environmental and Conservation Organizations (e.g. East Bay Regional Park District, Wildlife Conservation Network, Ventana Wildlife Society, Bay Area Puma Prokect, Project Coyote, and River Otter Ecology Project), School superintendents, Community Organizations and Civic Leaders (e.g. Alameda County Democratic Party, Metropolitan Greater Oakland Democratic Club), Business Community Leaders and Regional Elected Officials (e.g. Congresseoman Barbara Lee)
CALIFORNIA TRAIL PROJECT
FACT: Measure A1 funds CANNOT be used to construct the California Trail Project
FACT: The Oakland Zoo's California Trail exhibit was approved following years of community meetings and public input. The democratic process was upheld. California Trail is a 56- acre exhibt with 20+ acres of open space habitat that will set the stage for 20-acres of exciting new exhibits featuring regionally extinct animals such as the grizzly bear and endangered animals like the California condor. As part of the project, the Zoo voluntarily committed to implement a "habitat enrichment plan" for Knowland Park, aimed at caring for and enhancing native animal and plant habitat.
*Author's Note: Parcel taxes are written for what projects the organization CAN do with the money, not what projects they CANNOT do. To clarify this, the Oakland Zoo sent a letter to the city council, indicating that none of the Measure A1 money would go toward the California Trail Project. Because this knowledge and this letter is accessible to the people who would sit on the independent oversight committee, it can be considered legally binding (the oversight committee legally MUST hold the zoo accountable for what they say).
If this does not provide enough information, here are several links to actual documents regarding the Oakland Zoo and their intent. There have been a lot of links posted with interpretations, but these are the actual documents being mentioned, and some other links for more news and information.
If anyone reads them and has questions, please let me know and I will try to answer them.
The full Master Plan is listed here (#11) on the City of Oakland’s website. Development must be consistent with the Master Plan:http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/PBN/OurServices/Application/DOWD009157.
This does not provide much, but this is the company the zoo worked with to reduce their impact:http://questaec.com/content/projects/oakland-zoo/.
This is from 2010, it discusses the history, and what ended up happening after was that the planning commission and city council both approved.http://www.oaklandzoo.org/site/images/file/forms/zoo_improvements_myth_and_reality_march_2010.pdf.
There was a lawsuit, but the plan was upheld. Full articles don’t appear to be archived, but here’s part of it: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-33136447.html.
Here is what the zoo sent the neighbors for their input in 2010:http://www.oaklandzoo.org/site/images/file/forms/oaklandzooimprovementplans_forcommunityinput.pdf
This is the actual 51-page CEQA document regarding the zoo from 1997.http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca/groups/ceda/documents/report/oak025959.pdf
The first phase of the California Trail Project was a new veterinary hospital, which is complete. http://news.yahoo.com/grand-opening-oakland-zoos-veterinary-hospital-190031009.html
Lastly, there have been questions regarding why zoo's even matter at all. Please read this study as to why Zoos and Aquariums matter for conservation and stewardship practices: http://www.aza.org/uploadedFiles/Education/why_zoos_matter.pdf
Zoos' missions have changed over the years. They are about the conservation and preservation of all species, around the globe. This New York Times article discusses the role zoos play in conservation and the difficult choices ahead: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/science/zoos-bitter-choice-to-save-some-species-letting-others-die.html?pagewanted=all
This was written because I was inspired by a man named Vikram and a few other confused voters with important questions. It is difficult to decide how to vote if you do not know the history of the situation. Thank you to those individuals.
I hope this helps, and regardless of how you choose to vote tomorrow, please get out there and vote!