Supporters of Oakland's Measure A1 say it's a matter of simple economics. In order to take proper care of its tigers or monkeys, the zoo needs more money. "It's to operate the zoo and it's to take care of our animals, for humane animal care. It's to provide educational programs throughout Alameda County and it's to make sure that this stays affordable to all elements of the community," Oakland Zoo President Joel Parrott said.
Measure A1 would impose a $12 per year parcel tax on residential properties and $72 per non-residential parcel. It would raise $112 million over 25 years. But opponents of Measure A1 says it's not at all about the care and feeding of bears and other animals, but rather about the zoo's planned expansion into what is now the open spaces of Knowland Park. "The measure is written in such a way that there are large loopholes in it that would allow for the money to be used for expansion, words like 'develop,' 'expand,'" said Laura Baker with the No On Measure A1 Campaign.
Zoo officials insist that none of the money from A1 would go to fund the expansion, a 56-acre project that's going ahead even if the measure fails. "The California Trail Project, or expansion project, was approved and is moving forward. Measure A1 is not a referendum on Knowland Park. Measure A1 is about very specific needs at the zoo today," zoo spokesperson Nik Dehejia said.
Jean Gregory is a longtime member of the Oakland Zoo and a neighbor and frequent visitor to the Knowland Park Open Space area. "I'm just not convinced that we really need the extra taxation to help feed the animals at the zoo," she said.