Still Defined By A Van

Yes, we live in a time-stands-still bubble in Northern California.  At least when tourists think about Berkeley, it’s all tie-dyed dreams they imagine.  While we’re less brandished than our neighbors to the immediate north, visitors can’t seem to resist fulfilling their fantasies.

One LA-based photographer snapped this spiffy Volkswagen van during his visit to the Montclair District, as an iconic description of place.  While this VW is a nice specimen and all, it’s tiresome to still get defined by a van.

We would like to drop out as much as the next guy, but this yellow beauty isn’t resonating with your faithful blogger.  (However a white and blue-striped model triggers fond memories of my kindergarten transportation, but I digress.)

Nowadays, Montclarions move in and roots start to form pretty quickly.  We live in a place where you stay, invest and grow up.  Those yellow vans are a vanishing species, yet our wanderlust might be hidden somewhere.

More Acres For Zoo Or Not

There are some tough choices ahead for Knowland Park.  The Oakland Zoo leadership needs more space and would like to expand their acreage in the park.  Yet many locals, including the Friends of Knowland Park, want to ensure that undeveloped parkland remains untouched.

Knowland Pro-Development

Zoo administrators want room to grow, period.  They have an educational mission to accomplish, and want to improve their offerings to more than a half-million visitors annually.  One notable plan includes new exhibits featuring California species on their native turf, putting creatures who might (theoretically) run free behind fences.

In the map below, you see the expansion would add the orange outlined area to the current green area – another 40 acres or so.  Within the perimeter fence, you would find one veterinary hospital, the aforementioned California exhibits, a new service road and plenty of open space.

Knowland Anti-Development

What’s at issue in developing this area?  Well, the City of Oakland’s General Plan says, “the substantial portion of Knowland Park above the zoo and picnic grounds…is to remain in its natural state.”  This open space was supposed to stay completely undeveloped as a green corridor, leading to the East Bay Regional Parks next door.

Recently, the Chronicle published an urban outings report on hiking in the park.  We decided to take a quick trip this afternoon, and can confirm that it’s a little muddy and also dressed in green, spring finery now.  It’s nicer than we remembered.

Two Sides Meet

At this point, the train is revving up but hasn’t left the metaphorical station.  There have been all kinds of reviews and discussions taking place during the past year.

Next up?  The Oakland Zoo is holding a meeting this Thursday, from 6:30-8:30pm at the Zoo’s Marian Zimmer Auditorium (map), to obtain public comments and proceed forward.

More info:  Please read latest plans from the Oakland Zoo, as well as archived maps and documents from the Friends of Knowland Park.  To reach the Zoo, email  To reach the Friends, email