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Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax, Measure A1 (November 2012)

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An Oakland Zoo parcel tax, Measure A1 ballot question is on the November 6, 2012, ballot for voters in Alameda County.[1]

If the measure is approved, a 25-year parcel tax of $12 per parcel per year will be levied for single family residences and $72 per parcel per year for nonresidential properties. This will result in new tax revenues of about $4.5 million a year.[1]

A 2/3rds supermajority vote is required for passage.


The Oakland Zoo's campaign website claims that Measure A1 is needed to meet the basic needs of Zoo animals, and that the public should provide additional funding. Specifically, their website says that Measure A1 would help to ensure animals are safe and enclosures are well maintained, to provide animals with food, heating/cooling and clean, fresh watering systems, to repair aging animal shelters, sewage/drainage systems and retain quality veterinarians.


The East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Friends of Knowland Park and several other organizations formed a coalition called Save Knowland Park which is organizing against Measure A1. Their websites claim that, the Zoo tax "could be used to fund $72 million massive zoo expansion into public park land in Knowland Park (Oakland’s largest wildland park)" which "paves over and destroys ecologically rich wildlife and native plant habitat" and "displaces a rare plant community used by many species of native wildlife, including threatened Alameda whipsnake."

Additional concerns include that the tax "gives taxing authority to a private organization with no publicly elected representatives," that "the Zoo already gets public funds from multiple sources" and that the measure "creates burden for low-income seniors" by forcing low-income seniors who want to apply for an exemption to "apply each and every year to the zoo operator, creating an additional burden and requiring them to submit their personal financial information to a private entity with no accountability to voters."

Ruth Malone, of Friends of Knowland Park says, "To even ask for more at a time when cities and counties are struggling to provide basic services, when schools and libraries are struggling to manage with limited funds, roads and streets are deteriorating, people all over the county are hurting and Oakland’s police radios reportedly don’t even work half the time when they are trying to stop crimes, just shows the complete arrogance of zoo executives. They think we should all add more to the public trough so they can build their bay view offices, gift shop, restaurant and visitor center. The zoo has great programs and some great people working for it. But zoo executives seem completely out of touch. This plan is so wrong in SO many ways."[2]

Ballot text

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE A1: "To maintain/upgrade humane animal care and basic needs (food, medical, heating, cooling, safe enclosures); retain veterinarians/animal specialists; care for wounded/endangered animals; support wildlife conservation; maintain children's educational, nature/science programs, field trips; and keep entrance fees affordable; shall Alameda County levy a tax of $12/parcel annually for residential parcels and comparable commercial/industrial rates, with low-income senior exemptions, mandatory audits, and citizens' oversight?"[3]

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