Get Ready for The Elephant and Lion Show - By all logical indications, the Sacramento Zoo is headed to Elk Grove


After months of silence, there has been a burst of activity on the proposed relocation of the Sacramento Zoo to Elk Grove.

Of significance was last week's Elk Grove City Council's approval for the $9 million purchase of 100-acres in the city's Southeast Policy Area. The special planning area was identified months ago as a possible relocation site for the Sacramento Zoo.

While the city will argue if the coming feasibility study shows the zoo is, well, not feasible, the parcel could be used for other purposes and could be sold for a tidy profit. After all, that's what happened to the Grant Line parcel originally purchased for former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis' Major League Soccer stadium.

This is not like the 2014 obligatory drive-by visit of the former Grant Line soccer site by a low-level Major League Soccer representative on a trip to Sacramento. By the way, remember all those claims about the need for soccer facilities in Elk Grove?

At the time, the city commissioned a 2013 feasibility study that not surprisingly made the case Elk Grove could support and financially facilitate a soccer stadium. An objective study, you think?

Unlike Davis' soccer pipe dreams, the zoo relocation has a legitimate chance of being consummated. The Sacramento Zoo is pinned in at its Land Park location, and if given 60-acres, they're likely to jump like a kangaroo at the chance to relocate.

This week's other development was the notice of an environmental report that includes the not-yet-approved zoo project. As noted in the document, attendance at the new zoo is projected at about 1 million - double the zoo's current draw.

This all comes before the unveiling of the zoo feasibility study.

So let's consider that study.

It should be remembered that a feasibility study is discretionary. It is not a legally mandated examination like a financial audit and is prone to subjective findings.

Being discretionary, do you think the city hires a consultant who doesn't provide the desired findings? Of course, the mayor, city council, and city executives will say with a straight face that such studies are independent but don't trust their proclamations.

These are the same people who assert hefty cash contributions from unions, developers, and various business interests have zero influence on their votes. If you believe any of these claims then you might as well join Linus and wait for the Great Pumpkin.

Suppose the feasibility study doesn't have the findings the city wants. Do you think they would have bought the land and initiated the environmental study?

When the feasibility study is revealed, it will be noteworthy to examine attendance and financial projections. One person has contacted us and is ready to put on their green eyeshades to scrutinize projections compared to the Sacramento Zoo's recent financial and operational reports.

Beyond that, how objectively will the feasibility study answer all the money questions?

  • who pays for construction
  • how is it being financed
  • will Elk Grove taxpayers be on the hook
  • who pays for operating costs
  • will Elk Grove taxpayers be expected to provide an annual subsidy 
  • what happens if bonds are issued and they default 

Maybe, just maybe, the study will paint an accurate picture but we wouldn't make that bet. Taxpayers will only know years from now the veracity of the projections.

Regardless, Elk Grove taxpayers should not be surprised the zoo feasibility study paints a picture filled with rainbows and puppies. If the mayor and the city council have their way, which they probably will - remember the Houston Zoo trip -  the zoo is coming to The Grove whether you like it or not.

Get ready for the elephant and lion show, because after all, it's really about the animals!

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Renegade said...

Before a single dollar was spent to do a feasibility study and spend $9M of our tax dollars, would it have been so hard for the city to reach out and ask the citizens whether they want a zoo here? Would they be willing to pay higher taxes to bring a zoo here? How much would they pay to visit a zoo here?
Could the City have made the language straight forward so as to avoid confusing responses?
Just maybe our citizens, from every conceivable walk of life and life experience might offer just a bit of insight to such a project that our 5 leaders hadn't considered. It would have indicated a bit of confidence in us; it would have been considerate. But no, not the EGCC. They know it all. I'll wait and watch as this project goes the way of our "Ghost Mall."

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Perhaps the most important sentence from the city's zoo website page is this:
"Development of the MOA would occur over the summer of 2022 and likely considered by the City Council in the fall."

Put another way, the city council will vote this fall - just in time for the elections. Madame Mayor Singh-Allen, Mr. Hume and Ms. Nguyen can all use this as a talking point in their respective elections. Regardless if the zoo ever comes to fruition is beside the point - it appeals to many voters and what benefits them is more important that what happens to citizens.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

The Council will rely on Voodoo Economics to justify the zoo. With one million visitors a year, can you imagine how many people will be driving cross-town to buy a muffin at Mimi's Cafe? I'm tellin' ya, the zoo will be a goldmine!

Steve L said...

These actions, from the Brown Act violation in Houston to the purchase of the property without any public input are inexcusable. All five should be recalled for ethical violations of our trust.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm not one to gossip, but the word on the street is Grover was spotted at the zoo site staking out his spot!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

Look for the next taxpayer-paid jaunt to Africa by "The Brown Act Three" aka Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, and her two sidekicks, Council members Pat Hume and Kevin Spease, with staff in tow, for a safari.

Reason: They will need to see the animals personally, the zoologists they are, in their natural habitat so Elk Grove taxpayers can built a world-class zoo.

And who will be the architect for this quarter billion dollar project? I am sure the late Dame Zaha Hadid's firm won't take that call for a RFP!

Josie said...

It appears we have two big decision to we house the Rhinos or Humans?

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