Parks measure passes overwhelmingly, while zoo, transportation tax measures failing

Parks measure passes overwhelmingly, while zoo, transportation tax measures failing

Dave Boitano

Alameda voters overwhelmingly told the City Council on Tuesday night that they want the final say in determining if public park land should be sold or traded.

With all of the votes counted, Measure D won, with 15,247 yes votes, or 78.21 percent to 4,249 no votes, or 21.79 percent. A simple majority was needed to pass.

Meanwhile, a countywide measure to raise money to remodel the Oakland Zoo and care for its animals was leading by a margin of nearly two to one but did not have the necessary two-thirds approval with 100 percent of precincts tallied early Wednesday. It was losing with 62.69 percent of voters in favor of the tax and 37.31 percent opposed

Another measure to double Alameda County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation projects was suffering a similar fate. It had the assent of 65.54 percent of voters, a little over a percentage point less than it needed to pass.

Measure D amends the city charter to prohibit the council from selling for trading park land without voter approval. The charter was amended in 1992 to prohibit the sale or disposal of parkland but allowed for three major exceptions.

They included a provision that the city could lease or grant concessions in parks; grant easements for streets and utilities within parks and dispose of park property if the council decided that the land could be replaced with other comparable property.

Measure D arose out of an unpopular proposal by developer Ron Cowan to build homes on the Mif Albright Golf Course in exchange for cash and property Cowan owns on North Loop Road which would be used to build ballparks. Golfers who want to preserve the nine-hole course mobilized along with Bay Farm Island residents who insisted that the project would increase traffic in their neighborhood, and many of those same people were involved in creating and campaigning for Measure D.

Cowan proposed to build 100 homes on the golf course land and spend $7.2 million on the North Loop property. The council turned down the plan.

County Measure A1 sought a $12-per-parcel tax to help remodel portions of the Oakland Zoo. The measure would raise about $5.5 million annually for 25 years or $137 million. Funds would be used to remodel aging animal enclosures, repair outdated electrical, drainage and sewer systems and maintain the zoo’s admission price of $14.

But the campaign pitted zoo officials against environmentalists who claimed that A1 funds would be used to expand the zoo further into Knowland Park and threaten some of the park’s endangered species. Friends of Knowland Park tried to block the zoo’s already approved expansion plans but lost a final court battle earlier this summer.

Zoo officials insisted that A1 funds would only be used to remodel the current zoo property and that they had mitigated any potential environmental risks in Knowland Park.

Measure B1 would double the county’s half-cent sales tax for a variety of transportation projects and make the tax permanent.

More than $7.8 billion would be raised over the next 30 years to pay for a BART extension to Livermore, completion of the Bay Trail and restoration of bus service cuts. AC Transit would get an additional $1.5 billion, and Bay ferry service would realize up to $39 million over the course the next three decades.