Longtime Knowland Park aficionados know that every year as summer approaches, a herd of mother goats and their kids appears in Knowland Park to munch down the tall dry grass. The process is intended to reduce the dry grass and brush that could fuel wildfire—and thus is an important, low-tech way of helping to protect residents who live near the Park. Those who walk the Park year-round may have noticed how oak trees are trimmed very evenly in the Park. This is due to the goats, who love to nibble on the oak leaves as high as they can reach, sometimes standing on their hind legs to snack.
About JimJim Hanson grew up in the East Bay and originally heard about out the City’s development plans for Knowland Park from the East Bay Chapter of the Native Plant Society and the Sierra Club Yodeler. A landscape architect, Jim appreciates the subtle beauty of the native bunchgrass prairies and meadow lands of California. He has served on the Board of Directors of the California Native Grasslands Association for several years and was recently elected its President. He likes to take fellow Oaklanders and Bay Area visitors to the Knowland Park highlands to point with pride how a vibrant, busy city still keeps its natural wealth.
Getting the public to pay for big Zoo Development in Knowland Park – Measure G becomes Measure G(otcha)
If you’ve been following the big Oakland Zoo development proposed for the highlands of Knowland Park, then you’ve heard that one of the problems is the sheer cost of it.
But that’s okay, some say, because it will “pump millions into the economy” as Bay Area media outlets reported last summer. However, a closer look suggests that a respectable segment of the millions needed to build the Zoo’s theme park will be pumped directly from the front and back pockets of East Bay residents (See blog “It’s Your Zoo – You’re Paying (and Paying and Paying) for It – May 11, 2012).
It comes as no surprise that the Oakland Zoo has announced that it will seek yet another source of public funding (up to $5 million a year), this time from Alameda County residents. The zoo has been soliciting support for the county-wide tax measure on its website page, “It’s Your Zoo.” The zoo already receives money from Alameda and Contra Costa residents through the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) which taps residents for a portion of their parcel taxes through its special tax district (check your property tax bill and you’ll see it listed).
You might ask, with the new City Administrator, Deanna Santana, noting in her December budget letter that the City doesn’t have money to replace aging fire pump and ladder trucks, or pay off the debt from past City projects, or keep the City infrastructure safe,…why would Oakland choose to go further into debt to help buy and maintain the expensive cars, wires, power equipment, and massive columns for a big new zoo gondola.
In the past year, Oakland residents have twice witnessed the spectacle of the city government sounding the alarm of pending massive cuts in the budget. Last spring, then new mayor Jean Quan issued her three budget scenarios (A,B, and C) in which the city would have to choose which vital services to cut. Libraries would be cut, senior services, city and non-profit agency jobs.
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