Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax, Measure A1 (November 2012)
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.
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."
The East Bay Express, in an editorial against Measure A1 wrote: "We're urging "no" votes, however, for Measure A1, a countywide parcel tax that would benefit the Oakland Zoo. The zoo already receives plenty of taxpayer funding, and we believe the organization needs to become more self-sufficient. We're also concerned that the loosely worded measure would allow the zoo to spend the tax funds on its controversial expansion plans, rather than on caring for its animals. And we're troubled by the fact that the zoo spent its own money on a glossy mailer sent to residents at a time when it's claiming to need more taxpayer funds." 
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?"|