Oakland Zoo: A jungle on either side of the fence

So. Do you guys know about this zoo expansion? If you haven’t heard of it, you can get up to speed with this article from the Oakbook a couple weeks ago and also this one.

I have to confess, I haven’t been following the zoo issue that closely. In fact, pretty much the only thing I knew about it was that a lot of people hate it, and I only knew that because occasionally, people forward me angry messages from one of the zoo neighbors mailing lists either about or to the zoo. They are always like, really angry and often full of weird kind of vaguely threatening statements like “Mr. Parrot is in for a BIG SURPRISE!! There are going to be public meetings about this someday, and then he will find out how the people of Oakland REALLY feel about the zoo!!!” Whenever I see those messages, it makes me feel kind of bad for the neighbors, because I can’t help but think about how shocked and disappointed they’re going to be when they find out that most people in Oakland do not hate the zoo nearly as much as they do, or really at all. Anyway.

What the zoo wants

So, you can get lots of information about the plans from the zoo’s website or this promotional flyer (PDF) or in more detail from this report (PDF) for the Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago. But here’s the short version.

In 1998, the City approved a zoo expansion Master Plan. Part of that plan was the addition of this whole brand new exhibit featuring native California animals. The map below shows where in Knowland Park the zoo currently sits, and where in the park the new exhibit would go.

Oakland Zoo Map

Now the zoo still wants to do the California exhibit, but they don’t want to do it exactly like the Master Plan says. So now they are coming back to the City asking to make some changes. The changes include the following:

  • They want to reduce to total area of the expansion slightly (from 62 to 56 acres)
  • They want to build an aerial gondola to take people up the hill to the new exhibit, instead of running a shuttle bus
  • They want to build a new Veterinary Hospital
  • They want to move the existing overnight camping area
  • They want to change where the fence is going to be

You can read the complete list of changes here (PDF).

California!

So like I said, the zoo expansion recently came before the Planning Commission. No decision was made — it was just an informational report. Approval of the plans will come back to the Planning Commission at a later date, and then the City Council.

So first, Oakland Zoo executive director Joel Parrot gave a little presentation about this new California exhibit they want to build. Someone told me recently that Joel Parrot is like, some kind of huge celebrity in the zoo world. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I have to say, his very brief explanation of the new exhibit made it sound pretty cool.

So to get there, you would take the gondola up, and then you walk around this path where you can see California animals like mountain lions and black bears. And also, they will have animals that no longer live in California, but that were native to the state, like wolves and grizzly bears. Here’s the idea:

Oakland Zoo Proposed California! Exhibit

But my favorite part of the presentation was him listing all these kinds of animals that would be in the exhibit that had nearly gone extinct, and how all these different animals would no longer exist except for the fact that there were these big save the animal campaigns to protect and save that species, and so the exhibit is all about reminding people that through their action, they really can make a tangible difference in the world. How sweet is that? I found it very moving.

Not everyone likes “California!”

So then they moved on to public comment. There was…um…a lot of it. Highlights include…well, basically, the neighbors really do not like the zoo expansion. You can get a decent idea of their general position from this letter, which one of the zoo opponents submitted to the City before the Planning Commission meeting. Here’s an excerpt.

Dear zoo opportunists,

I have read your letter, and I am very alarmed. Let me begin with the words in your letter: “The Oakland Zoo is breaking new ground in science education and conservation that will help save California’s rich and threatened natural history through education, exhibits, collaboration and awareness.” This statement is supported by the following catch phrases:

  • “Growing Education & Conservation Leadership”
  • “Investing in Oakland & the Bay Area Economy”
  • “Taking Care of Knowland Park & the Environment”
  • “Enhancing the Regions’ Cultural Assets”

My first scary thought on reading this was: The Oakland Zoo is taking new ground, literally. Unfortunately, I fear that you may accomplish just that, and that you may never cease taking new ground.

I decided to test your real intentions with the help of simple questions: are your intentions altruistic or not. My answer is they are not. Altruistic intentions and actions are usually modest in the manifestations and strong in results. The selection of your words is typical for propaganda cases, in short — brainwashing. For example, you tout an energy-efficient gondola in your plan to prove that you know how to conserve the energy, but if you were really so intent on Conservation and saving energy, you would not expand at all. I do not believe that through your actions that Oakland Zoo and Oakland will become a center of the universe as you are presenting it. And for Goodness sake, it should not be that way. I believe you are promising more than you really plan to deliver.

Basically, they don’t want the expansion because they like having Knowland Park all to themselves. They don’t want to have the zoo’s fence get in the way of their (admittedly stunning) views. They don’t want to have to look at the roof of the zoo’s expanded veterinary hospital. Oh, and they are afraid of the grizzly bears getting out and eating them if there’s an earthquake. Also, the zoo expansion is exactly like the Raiders deal and will cost Oakland taxpayers millions and millions of dollars every year forever.

I realize that I’m making them sound really unreasonable, but the fact is, they sounded really unreasonable. I mean, I listened to them, I watched all the public comment twice, and I really tried to see where they were coming from, but in the end, I just do not buy that the expanded zoo is going to completely obliterate all quality of life of these people. It just does not seem plausible to me. The zoo is just not that scary. Saying the zoo is going to destroy your life is like Larry Reid saying at the last Council meeting that BRT was the same same as tearing up your neighborhood and using eminent domain to build a freeway through it. You hear that, and even if you are not that into the bus and have real concerns about BRT, you’re like “Um, no. It really is not like that.”

My point is, that if these people do have legitimate objections to the zoo’s plans, they did an exceptionally poor job of articulating them. At one point, Commissioner Vince Gibbs was like, can you please list your specific concerns about this for us, so we can try to address them? And the guy who responded was like, all weasely about it, kind of muttering for a while about how he has lots of problems in general and not saying any specific ones, probably because he knows if he said them, they would sound ridiculous. I mean, he’s sitting there going on about how the gift shop is too big. Come on.

But is the zoo evil?

So, like I said, the anti-zoo people really seem kind of…well, you know. But the pro-zoo comment was also totally over the top.

They kept talking about how the California! exhibit is going to make Oakland a big tourist destination, and “put Oakland on the map.” Anytime anyone insists that something will bring tourists to Oakland, I get suspicious. I mean, I support the zoo and look forward to going to see their new exhibit. But what map exactly is this supposed to be putting us on? Because unless we’re talking about a “Zoos of the Bay Area” map, I don’t see it. Are people in New Jersey going to take their kids on vacation to Oakland so they can see a wolf? I don’t think so.

In general, the zoo people seem very delusional about their place in people’s lives. They kept going on and on about how the zoo was such a huge source of pride for the City of Oakland. I hate to break it to them, but a lot of people don’t even know Oakland has a zoo. I mean, sure, those are mostly childless people and all the people I know who have kids are aware that the zoo exists, but a fair number of them have never been, and just take their kids to the San Francisco zoo instead because they assume it is better. (It isn’t, by the way. The Oakland Zoo is much, much better than the San Francisco zoo. Also, you don’t have to worry about your kids getting eaten by a tiger in Oakland.) Anyway, maybe the zoo should be a big source of pride for the whole city. But the reality is that right now, it isn’t and people who think it is should spend a little more time talking to people who don’t work for or live next to the zoo, and get a reality check.

Anyway, with the pro-zoo comment being so over the top, and then listening to the zoo’s talk about how this plan that everyone around it totally hates was made in the 90s with extensive community input and how the people against it now never wanted it in the first place and also it is supported by Larry Reid, I could not help but think of the Oakland Airport Connector. So of course that made me think, oh, maybe I should not trust the zoo, and maybe the neighbors are right after all. But then I thought, well, it kind of seems like the zoo is right in this case, and I think that if someone didn’t know anything and just kind of waltzed into the debate about the airport connector, it would not seem to them like BART was right. I mean, it’s half a billion dollars to go three miles and it would be slower than the bus and run less and will cost each rider double the price of the current bus and is not projected to have any more riders than the bus and people will have to walk farther to get to it from the station. But it will be prettier! I mean, no objective observer looks at that and thinks “Oh yeah, this thing BART wants to do is really cool! Those people objecting to it are psycho!” Anyway. So I did worry about that. But my conclusion was that even though the zoo expansion has some superficial similarities with the Airport Connector, that in and of itself does not mean the zoo is evil.

Oakland should be excited about zoo expansion!

Again, this discussion was merely informational, and the Planning Commission took no action. They did tell the zoo to make an effort to make nice with the neighbors, and listen to them and give them an opportunity to feel included in the planning process.

Listening to the zoo presentation, and hearing the zoo talk about how they were re-envisioning everything they do and how excited they were about the new exhibit made me think of the Oakland Museum, and the awesome renovation they just did with all their galleries being redone totally from scratch. And of course I could not help but then imagine about how amazing it would be if the library had an opportunity to totally re-envision all their operations and use of space and reorganize and have all this cool new stuff for our patrons, and then I started getting really jealous of the zoo. And of course I know the money just isn’t there for the library to do something like that, but that’s no reason to be bitter against the zoo or museum. Instead, it made me appreciate even more how lucky we are in Oakland to have these great enhancements of our cultural institutions going on right now.

If the neighbors do have legitimate objections, then those should of course be addressed. But NIMBYism should not be allowed to get in the way of a project that will bring joy and enrichment to our residents, and will also give people who don’t live in Oakland a reason to come and have a more positive impression of the city. I mean, yeah, I don’t think they’ll be visiting from New Jersey, but it’s not a stretch to see it being a draw for visitors from, say, Castro Valley or something.

24 thoughts on “Oakland Zoo: A jungle on either side of the fence

  1. Jeri

    Okay, so I live _near_ the zoo, um, like two freeway exits away, and my neighborhood lists are also filled with these crazy Zoo detractors. So I went through the same process you did, sort of.

    I looked at the Zoo web site. I worried about people who support (Larry Reid). I wondered if there was a hidden agenda. I agreed that “no this won’t make the zoo a destination spot”, but for me as a nearby resident it was certainly a point of pride as a place I could take friends and family from out of town to visit and prove that Oakland is not a scary place anymore so than parts of Concord are.

    I came to the same conclusion you did. The Zoo expansion isn’t a terrible thing, and none of my neighbors seem to have any specific reason for not wanting it aside from the idea that they are losing open space.

    I’d like to point out this open space could be lost in many worse ways I wouldn’t support, like another housing development (yeah I live next to the quarry development and am still pretty, read: _very_, certain it was stupid).

    I also agree that the Zoo needs to be a bit smarter about advertising. No one knows they exist aside from the angry neighbors and the families with kids contingents. They need to advertise, and I’m not talking about the expensive kind of advertising. Grab a Twitter account for free and Tweet about the special events. Make use of social media to raise awareness, you don’t live in vacuum.

    Anyway, thank you for the write-up!

  2. Bruce Nye

    It’s worth mentioning what the current administration has accomplished at this zoo. In 1983, it was on a list of the worst zoos in America — as I recall, along with some really awful road-side tourist trap type places. Full of small concrete enclosures, etc. Dr. Parrott and staff have turned it into one of the best and most progressive zoos around. If you haven’t gone, or haven’t gone in a long time, you should see what they’ve accomplished.

  3. Stacey

    V: You’re one of the most articulate, thoughtful writers following Oakland that I’ve encountered in my 15 years here. Sometimes you even make me laugh. I would have sent this note to you personally, but the “contact” button on your website seems disabled. Anyhow, thanks for your hard work on these complex topics.

  4. Livegreen

    Thanks for this overview V. A few anecdotes while visiting the zoo with family & friends:
    –The Oakland Zoo IS really cool, way better than the SF Zoo (except for the lemurs) & (like Chabot) draws a LOT of families & schools from other East Bay cities.
    –I understand part of the major improvements over the years has been giving the animals more room & liveable habitat. For example, compare the lions’ space at OZ to the small one at SFZ. –OR– the OZ elephants used to b where the parrots are now;
    –Not to oversell the zoo’s plans, but having seen the old & new parts of the San Diego Zoo, I think OZOO’s plans COULD contribute to making it a destination, at least regionally. And certainly the 2nd best zoo in CA. & quite different + more walkable than SD.

    –I understand the concerns about Open Space in Oakland. However your map shows how much open space there is left in the park, much less the East Bay Regional Park System next door.

  5. Daniel Schulman

    My 10 year-old niece who DOES live in New Jersey likes to come to Oakland to visit me, go to the Zoo (she especially likes the meerkats), and eat at Le Cheval (aka the restaurant with the snakes in the jar).

    I am not sure, though, of her exact order of Oakland preferences.

    Also, she is moving to NYC this summer so she might become too cosmopolitan for Oakland. I’ve already been told that the Dim Sum is much better there.

  6. Almer Mabalot

    I want Pandas, where are the Pandas? Does anyone know the progress of the Zoo’s progress in obtaining a pair from China? I read about, but it was dated back a couple years ago. I hope they didn’t give up on them.

  7. Born in Oakland

    Good question about the Pandas. The Pandas at the San Diego Zoo are a huge attraction. Members of our family go to the Oakland Zoo about three times a month. The Zoo is a safe and sane family outing destination.

  8. Jenn

    The zoo does twitter and facebook and it has a youtube channel. Just click on the icons on the zoo’s home page to find and follow.

  9. len raphael

    Almer, i’m in favor of a parcel tax for pandas. The zoo is one of oakland’s crown jewels. Never understood why Joel Parrott stuck around, but we lucked out with him.

  10. Dax

    LG, regarding the following

    “–I understand the concerns about Open Space in Oakland. However your map shows how much open space there is left in the park, much less the East Bay Regional Park System next door”

    I am not on one side or the other of this debate, but unless you have been to the site in question, you have no concept of how much and what kind of space will be used for the project.

    That photo of the park is very deceptive.
    The Zoo expansion will take half of the remainder of the usable space in that section of the park. Much of what you see that looks like open space is steep unusable brush and trees where it is nearly impossible to walk.
    Another large portion of the park is all above Golf Links Road and is separated from the section where the expansion is in question.
    You cannot without great difficulty even walk from that section to the Upper Knowland Park above Golf Links Rd.
    I have done so but you must hike through steep inclines filled with poison oak and brush. I have never seen anyone else taking that route, and there is no trail between what are essentially 2 separate parks.

    I might add, the Zoo expansion essentially ruins the views from the entire adjacent park area that will be left in that section. It will cease to be open space or to have any free and clear views of the panorama.

    Like I said, I am undecided, but a person really needs to go to the site and hike around to see how much of the ridge the zoo is going to fill in with buildings and exhibits.

    Bottom line is that the entire “usable” park area will cease to be a natural setting.

    So the decision will be based on the “greater good” but there is no doubt that open space will be destroyed forever.

    One additional point. The nearby regional park does not have a similar kind of natural setting but is filled with eucalyptus as you access it from Skyline Blvd.

    I expect the Zoo expansion to go forward.
    On a positive note, when completed, thousands more people will be able to take in that panoramic view of the Bay Area, but just don’t make believe it will be a natural view like it now is.

    Bottom line is that it is impossible to have a well thought out opinion on this expansion if you don’t go and see the physical reality of what is going to be done and what is going to be destroyed in terms of open space.
    The map doesn’t come close to portraying the true picture.

  11. Naomi Schiff

    He really is a zoo celebrity, and has managed to bring the zoo from being a depressing embarrassment to a point of cutting-edge zoo-ness. It used to be horrible to see the primates in the tiny cages. They have successfully raised a lot of funds, figuring out ways to not depend on the city budget. Clever marketing has been apparent. When they built the chimpanzee habitat Jane Goodall was consulted, induced to visit and approve of it.

    For many years, Parrott has been interested in seeing if he could include more native Calif. fauna. I think it would be worth thinking about such an effort as parallel and complementary to the museum’s mission: California as subject matter. And if they would include some of our endangered species that could use some captive breeding programs, that would be a plus: native frogs in particular seem to be in trouble.

    You could see where some residents might worry a little about grizzly bears in the ‘hood, especially after the SF tiger episode, though. I think it makes sense to have a well facilitated (humans-only) discussion with the neighborhood.

    About the pandas: that was Henry Chang’s thing, and he was always promising that the pandas were on the verge of arrival. But China controls pandas pretty carefully, and it could be that with Chang’s retirement it may require a new politico with panda focus to get the deal done.

  12. Livegreen

    I don’t know, grizzlies and Mountain Lions sound pretty cool to me. They better build those fences high though.

    Oh, BTW, a zoo worker told me the tiger fence on Oakland is shorter than the one inSF was. Not sure if that’s true or not. Luckily it’s harder to pester the animals and, unlike SF, most OZ visitors are considerate enough not to do it.

  13. len raphael

    Joel Parrot is one of those public servants which Oakland gets all too rarely, but does get. Calvin Simmons was member of the same species. Jerry Brown put on a good imitation, and we’re all hoping Batts is the real deal too.

    I’m sure there must be more or this town would have collapsed by now, but general public never hears about them.

  14. Naomi Schiff

    Oh we have had some really fine public employees. Lee White, the late library director. I think Lori Fogarty is doing a fine job. Joel Peter with the DD stuff. I found Jerry B’s performance kinda patchy, and brought us some poor administrators in his yearning to use high-profile people. (I like the ones who keep their minds on their jobs rather than on their p.r.) Tora Rocha! Elois Thornton. Jim Ryugo. The recently retired Sandra Steen, and Cookie Robles Wong. I could go on.

  15. Bill Noland

    V, I would suggest that you take the time to visit the area of Knowland Park, where the Zoo expansion is planned. I was the one who filed the original appeal to the Planning Commissions approval of the project in the late 90′s, so I know a little about this issue. I was also a zoo member for years, before I left Oakland and always supported a reasonable expansion project that didn’t eliminate open space access.

    To characterize this as a NIMBY issue is disingenuous. The park is regularly visited by individuals outside the immediate neighborhood. It is the premier, off-leash dog walking park in the City. The vistas are incredible with views of Mt. Hamilton to Mt. Tam and beyond. This is one of the last undeveloped areas of the City and home to wildlife. Any development must be done in a fashion that preserves this valuable Oakland asset for future generations.

    Do take the time to visit the park. It will give you a better understanding of the concerns of those who frequent the park.

  16. V Smoothe Post author

    Oh, sorry if I wasn’t clear in the post. I thought that by making note of the quality of the views, it would be obvious to readers that I had seen them. But since two people have commented about it, I guess not.

    Yes, I also encourage everyone to take a trip up to Knowland Park and check out the area they’re talking about. It is very beautiful. But I still see no reason why we shouldn’t allow the zoo expansion.

    The anti-zoo people all seem to assume that the reason nobody supports them is because this space they’re trying to protect is so obscure and under the radar that no one except them has ever seen it. That, of course, is a terrible presumption coming from people who are trying to claim such immense value to one place that they want to sacrifice benefits to the entire City and region to preserve it. But I think it’s also a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. The neighbors seem so convinced they are right in their ridiculous NIMBY demands that they want to believe that everyone who disagrees is either some evil “zoo opportunist” or just doesn’t know what’s going on. But the fact is, it is entirely possible to have visited the park on multiple occasions, seen the views, walked around, appreciated the resource, and still think they’re being completely crazy.

  17. Dax

    V, Good that you went there, although the zoo and even the foes, have not done a good job of marking out the area that will actually be involved.

    Whatever the outcome if one is familiar with that entire area of the park, one must admit that the entire upper area will no longer be the natural space it now is.
    That includes the portion that the zoo is developing as well as the rest of that area East of that.
    Only the totally separate portion of the park, east of Golf Links Rd., will not be affected. That area is really a separate park and there are no trails leading from one to the other. You have to get in your car and drive to the upper park east of Golf Links Rd.

    I am divided on the issue. Generally speaking I like the Zoo and their leadership.
    They will do a good job with the expansion but it will greatly affect the open space that is not part of the development.

    The best feature will be the Zip-Line that will run down to the lower zoo at up to 110 mph. Helmets required.

  18. Bill Noland

    V, glad you’ve had an opportunity to see the park personally. When I was involved in the original appeal, we represented a wide variety of individuals and concerns. It is somewhat natural, that when the public has issues with something, that they throw “everything including the kitchen sink” at it. You end up with a list of legitimate concerns and some not so legitimate stuff.

    During the original negotiations and from my discussions with those currently involved, I would characterize most involved as zoo supporters and not “anti-zoo”. Several of us were zoo members and regularly visited the zoo.

    OTOH, the beauty and uniqueness of Knowland Park is that it is perhaps the least “touched” real estate in the City. Parks with ballfields and developed trails have their place, but so does undeveloped park land where people can get away from the urban environment.

    I have actively encouraged people to visit the park, over the years, and many people do so on a regular basis. The neighborhood surrounding the park has always been open to and friendly towards visitors to the park. I think, if you strip away the fringe craziness from this issue, you’ll find a group of people who are both supportive of the zoo, but who cherish this last bit of undeveloped open space and don’t want to lose that forever. Just as we worked out a number of comprimises years ago which preserved open space access, addressed some legitimate concerns over the expansion and made for what was arguably a better project in the end, I’m confident that the current group will reach reasonable agreement on the proposed changes.

  19. Navigator

    It’s possible that when zoo neighbors said that “Mr. Parrot is in for a big SURPRISE.,” they were referring to one of our feathered friend residents at the zoo. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one.

    Seriously, those beautiful views should be enjoyed by more people. I don’t see anything wrong with allowing the Oakland Zoo to expand to a small part of that beautiful setting.

  20. Karen Smulevitz

    Knowland Park is near and dear to my heart. In the late 70′s, I volunteered for a year of Sundays to work at the old Children’s Zoo, which was just a glorified petting zoo, but even then dreams were floating about improvements and the educational possibilities. It was shameful that Oakland Zoo was considered so substandard then. I got to know Mugsy, the growing-up baby hippopotamus, who lived in a very small concrete enclosure with a puddle. One day I ran to the director in a panic, saying that Mugsy was covered with blood! That was when I learned that hippos secrete a red oil that is a natural sunscreen. I hope Mugsy is enjoying wallowing in that great muddy river in the sky, and all the other poorly-housed animals that paid for the improvements now realized. Now there is a great educational program, zoo camp and events. Then the entertainment was watching a neurotic chimpanzee throw his feces at people. The only animals I feared were the ostriches (now they have emus) because they pulled my hat off and grabbed my eyeglasses.
    Over the years, the open space and trails above the zoo have afforded our dogs many happy hikes in native California terrain. The park is a resource for seed collecting of native plants and a place to observe birds. Several years ago I saw an Alameda Whip Snake. This land needs to be protected, but some zoo expansion should not be detrimental, considering the benefits of well-planned exhibits. Oakland Zoo excites me, and that’s even after considering San Diego the Holy Grail of zoos. Panda Schmanda, the best part of SD is the Polar Bear Plunge, so delightful, but so artic. We don’t pretend to have a Griffith Park, but Oakland’s niche is a valuable contribution. As OMCA focuses on California art and culture. so too should our zoo reflect the natural sciences of a unique state.
    Dr. Parrott is indeed a person to be lionized (forgive the theme pun).
    Let’s hope the neighbors and the zoo can reach a peaceful coexistence. The institution has the burden of making its case (as does AC Transit in the face of opposition to BRT) and should be more neighborly.
    Every time I’m at the zoo, I notice families from throughout the Bay Area and beyond. The zoo itself is reaching out with promotions. One effort is toward senior citizens, those people who bring our grandkids there. This year, on July 9th, United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County will hold its 7th annual Healthy Living Festival at the zoo for the first time, after six years at Lake Merrit. It will be a super event for seniors and those who love them. The zoo is offering a special discounted membership to attendees, and an extra special rate for members of USOAC’s walk clubs. We will be having regular walks through the zoo. AC Transit, for its part, has actually improved its service to the park entrance. Check their website for schedules.

  21. Nik Haas-Dehejia

    As the Oakland Zoo’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and the California! Project lead, I wanted to let everyone know that the Zoo has launched a new project-specific website – http://www.itsyourzoo.org – that provides more details and news on these projects. Please feel to visit this site to provide your comments and support for the Zoo. You can also reach me directly by email to communityinput@oaklandzoo.org or by phone at 510.632.9525 x178.

    Thank you for your interest in the Zoo’s plans for growth. We at the Zoo are excited at the opportunity this project presents to ALL residents of Oakland and our surrounding communities.

  22. dk

    Ooh. I’m late on the take. I have to say though, that I appreciate the thoughtful nature of your meanderings about the beloved Oakland Zoo. I’ve been acquainted with this establishment from way back, having been with a woman for many years who volunteered her time to work with the elephants of the era (Smokey, Kijana R.I.P.)

    This zoo is a huge success story, and more people should know about it. The people who work as caretakers of the institution and its animal charges are the kind of people you want to know, or at least want to know about. This IS altruism, despite the bizarre opining of flat-earth weirdos of the local neighborhood associations.

    Long live Oakland. Long live the zoo.

    -dk