Comparing the Plans

The following table offers brief comparisons between the 1996 Zoo Master Plan, that plan as ammeded in 1998, and the current Zoo plan for expansion and development. Links provided will take one to more detailed treatment of the issues and differences.

The 1996 Plan

The 1998 Plan

The current Plan

We don’t know how much the Zoo costs us to operate, but we know it’s never been self-supporting.   We don’t know how much the expansion will cost us, but the Zoo estimates $72 million; and we don’t know how much more it will cost us above and beyond current operational costs.

Published Plans
The Zoo’s master plan was approved in 1998. It was mainly on already disturbed land, and well below the ridgeline, away from rare ad fragile ecosystems.   The current plans are so different, they can’t be claimed to be for the same project. Structures were added, moved, expanded, and will invade rare, fragile ecosystems, and require extensive construction on land prone to wildfires, seismic shifting, and erosion.

Public Process
The Oakland Master Plan’s Open Space Conservation and Recreation (OSCR) document prescribes protection for open spaces such as Knowland Park.   The Zoo’s current plans violate OSCR by invading and developing open space, damaging the environment, and endangering wildlife.
The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires full environmental impact studies and reports for projects significantly changed from their approved plans.   The Zoo’s current plans have significantly changed, but the City refuses to produce a full EIR about it.

Traffic and Parking
The Zoo’s current visitors often overflow existing parking space onto lawns under the trees of the original Knowland Park Arboretum.   The Zoo’s Plans make no provision for the Zoo’s estimate of a 33% to 100% increase in visitors.
There is one entrance to the Zoo, and special event traffic often backs up onto I-580 at a dangerous blind curve.   Increased traffic due to increased visitor numbers will exacerbate already dangerous backups on the interstate.
Current visitors have access to two lowland exits to the Interstate, and emergency egress from the lowlands can occur through.   If visitor numbers double, and half of them are in the highlands, emergency egress will require them to first move on foot downhill on service roads to the parking lot, and then exit through the lowland exits to the freeway.

Environmental Stewardship
The Zoo’s past stewardship of public lands includes documented instances of illegal tree removal, illegal dumping of construction materials and animal waste in sensitive drainage areas, and careless methods of removing invasive plants that actually contribute to their spread.   The Zoo’s plans include fencing wildlife out of necessary hunting and migration corridors; putting digging and denning species on sensitive grassland home to threatened plant species; siting buildings and a large gondola ride in sensitive chaparral, which is prone to wildlife, on land prone to erosion and seismic shifting.
The Zoo claims its educational responsibility will be met by showing large animal species now extinct in the area and state due to human action.   The Zoo’s plans will likely cause extinction to threatened plant species, as well as one already threatened animal species. It will provide no education about modern environmental problems, nor about the abundance of plants and animals already living in the development area.