Save Knowland Park – The City Council voted…

By now most of you have probably heard that the vote did not go our way at the Oakland City Council on Tuesday night, with a 6–2 vote to pass the “conservation easement” ordinance, moving the zoo one step closer to breaking ground. However, two courageous Councilmembers did stand with the public and voted against approving this fake “conservation easement” that will smooth the way for the razing of the heart of Knowland Park: Dan Kalb and Rebecca Kaplan.

Right now, please take a moment to send each of them a note of thanks for listening to the public and standing up for our public parklands:

And if you weren’t there, you really did miss something valuable. The room was completely packed. One member of our core leadership team wrote: “I am so proud to be associated with this group of people. There were so many supporters there, so many people spoke up and spoke well. It was a groundswell of support and love for our genuine wild place. It was very moving.”

We couldn’t agree more. To see those green “Save Knowland Park” sheets held up all over the packed room, including so many in the balconies, to hear the public speaking their truth, to see ardent Park supporters staying late into the night just so they could cede time to our other speakers who needed it—and to hear them calling out their names to the city clerk from all over the room to do so—it was powerful. We came away, of course, disheartened by the continued blatant lies from the zoo and its paid consultants (since when does bulldozing habitat improve conditions for wildlife?but yes, that’s what they argued) but so inspired to see the power of the Park move people to take action.

Those of you who made the time, who came out and stayed late and spoke up surely also felt that power—because so many of you have been calling and emailing to say “What’s next?” But for those who couldn’t get there, you should know you were well represented by your public brethren—from Mestie Thomas, the 6th grade student, who so powerfully pointed out that “Knowland Park has real things that are fun instead of things built to be fun” …to a host of scientists and conservationists from all over the Bay Area who cited their “real things” peer-reviewed scientific evidence to refute the zoo’s baseless claims…to others who brought forth the real social justice aspects of the privatization of our public lands. In the face of the 1984-esque double-speak, in which “bulldozing is conservation,” the real, authentic voices of the public were loud and clear.

Not that very many of those looking down upon us from their City Council perches were really listening. It became clear that they had already made decisions long before we got there. Yes, some gave pretty little speeches about how wonderful it was that “both sides” turned out and spoke so passionately, conveniently ignoring the fact that virtually every one of the zoo’s proponents was either a zoo employee, consultant or board member. They all assured us not to worry, because there would still be “lots of open space”—as though all unbuilt land is the same.

Yes, the City Council regretted (in the space of a few moments before they voted) that they couldn’t seem to figure out how to bring the sides together, although they did allow Dr. Parrott to get up again to deny that any compromise could be possible, without pressing him to give any evidence to back this up. But the City Council didn’t regret the lack of compromise enough to vote No to give zoo executives an incentive to come to the table with the environmental groups and find a better way. It’s sad, but if the numbers of people calling and emailing us to ask “what’s next?” are any indication, this isn’t the end of it.

There will be much more to talk about this in the coming days, and we will be reaching out to ask YOU to help guide (and fuel) our next steps. We have to make some big decisions quickly, so we will appreciate your help.

Do you support “next steps” to save Knowland Park? That could take various forms (e.g., contributing volunteer time, offering your skills, donations, etc.), as we consider our options. If yes, please email with I CAN HELP in the subject line.

Meanwhile, enjoy the greening park, treasure the days we still have it—shared by us all, wild and free–and take heart in the growing power we all feel in standing up together to protect our public parklands.

Thanks for everything,
Ruth, Tom, and the Friends of Knowland Park Leadership Team

Want to see the meeting and hear the comments?
Click here and scroll down to the video
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