From the Dec 18, 2002 East Bay Express:

The final instance in which the city chose to go its own way involved the fabled Alameda whipsnake, a threatened species that has historically made its habitat at the quarry site, but which the city claims no one has spotted there since 1953.

John Krause, the East Bay biologist for the state's Department of Fish and Game, says the city has not sufficiently surveyed the site to prove that the snakes are not there. Despite repeated letters from Krause asking to meet with city officials, his telephone calls have gone unreturned since early November, and the city approved its environmental impact report without his input. "Usually I'm sitting at the table with the project proponents well before the draft environmental impact report is out," Krause says. If he ever does manage to meet with city officials, he expects to tell them that he isn't too impressed with the development's current design. "They haven't really avoided the habitat to the degree they may be able to," he says. "They haven't provided any information for why this project has to be built the way it has."

Oakland's Cappio says the city fully intends to consult with the state and plans to take precautions that assume the threatened snakes are present. "We're aligned with Fish and Game," she says. "It's just the timing." Although discovery of whipsnakes could not derail the project, the development will be required to obtain state permits before proceeding.

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