A new poll of likely voters shows strong public supporting the city’s largest public park, Knowland Park, from an environmentally destructive expansion project proposed by the Oakland Zoo.
A supermajority, 75 percent, of those polled say the Oakland Zoo should either not be allowed to expand into undeveloped parkland or that any expansion should be built within or near the existing zoo, impacting the smallest amount of public parkland possible and minimizing impact to threatened plant and animal species.
“This poll shows it is time to press the reset button and find a compromise on this expansion project that everyone can support,” said Laura Baker of the California Native Plant Society.
Added Norman La Force, chair of the Sierra Club’s East Bay Public Lands Committee, “The Oakland Zoo is a beloved institution, but the current expansion plan just doesn’t line up with the values of Oakland voters who want to see our parks and open space areas protected – not paved over.”
The poll, conducted by EMC Research between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5, comes at a time as the Oakland City Council considers final approvals connected to the highly controversial expansion project.
If approved, the project would develop or ban public access to 77 acres of publicly owned, undeveloped open space, currently home to a wide array of wildlife.
The Oakland Zoo expansion project has long been opposed by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, California Native Plant Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Knowland Park, and others, because the development, which includes a 34,000-square-foot visitor center, restaurant, gift shop and office complex in addition to more than 40 other structures, is sited on rare habitat for native plants and animals.