Sitting high up in the Oakland hills, overlooking the entire city and with the best views of practically the entire bay, Oakland’s scenic open space Knowland Park is a real treasure and is a great place for children to run around and explore, for nature lovers to enjoy, and for visitors to get great views. And it’s completely free.
And that is exactly the problem. According to Corporate America and Corporate Oakland, any piece of land that doesn’t earn money is a waste, especially large pieces like Knowland Park. That is why the powers that be of the Knowland Zoo were licking their lips when they got their hands on the park some years back. They developed plans for what amounts to a theme park, complete with a gondola ride, a high end restaurant and office space in the park.
To understand what’s behind these plans, we have to look at who sits on the Board of Directors. This article makes it clear:
“Jim Wunderman is President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, a business-backed public policy organization….
Sebastian DiGrande is a Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy….
Daniel Boggan, Jr…. assisted the municipal firm of Siebert, Branford & Shank Co. in business development from 2003 to 2006…. Cassady Hudson is a Senior Revenue and Royalty Analyst at Hands-on Mobile…. Mark McClure is a partner at California Capital and Investment Group, a real estate brokerage and development firm based in Oakland CA. He has worked on both residential and commercial development projects primarily in the City of Oakland…. Lora Tabor is the General Manager, Corporate & Services HR, for Chevron Corporation in San Ramon….”
What these corporate representatives are after with their plans for Knowland Park is explained by the comment of Nick Dehajia, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Zoo: “the project… changes the face of Oakland.” Working class and poor people in Oakland – the great majority of whom are black and brown – should look in the mirror and ask, “whose face do they want to change?”
The zoo project is part and parcel of the long range plans to privatize everything that moves – or doesn’t move – in order to suck profits out of it. This is also connected with the long range plans to further gentrify western Alameda County. It is connected with the removal of the homeless encampment at the Albany Bulb, the development plans for the Oakland shore line, etc.
As is typical of such plans, much of this will be done at taxpayers’ expense. Votes will be held:
- Wed, November 12, 1–5 pm. City Council “Community and Economic Development Committee” will discuss this matter. Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, in City Council chambers.
- Tues, November 18, starting 5:30 pm. Full City Council will consider and votewhether to approve the “conservation easement.” Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, in City Council chambers.
The zoo mobilizes its workers and “volunteers”. We urge the working class people of Oakland to come out and stand up to Corporate Oakland. Save Knowland Park! Oppose privatization! Oppose gentrification of Oakland!
(For those interested in some background, here is an article by this writer on a tax measure that the Zoo Board tried to push through to get working class people in Alameda County to further fund their plans.)