Building a Legacy? Mayor Bobbie, You're No William Land

By DJ Blutarsky | Guest Contributor | 

We all know that Mayor Bobbie has been the biggest, most vocal advocate for the zoo ever since it first became an idea. It's very easy to conclude that the zoo relocation from Land Park is all about building her political resume and her Elk Grove legacy. 

But just as Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential debate that he was no Jack Kennedy - well, Mayor Bobbie, you're no William Land! 

After becoming wealthy in Sacramento, William Land served as Sacramento Mayor from 1898-1899 and gave the city an $80,000 interest-free loan to save the city interest charges of a bond. Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of $2.64 million dollars today! 

Upon his death in 1911, William Land bequeathed to the City he cherished so much, $250,000 to be used as a park ($8.2 million in current dollars), and another $200,000 "for the care of the indigent poor" ($6.6 million in current dollars). 

He also gave $10,000 to the Sacramento Orphanage ($330,000 in current dollars) and $15,000 to the Catholic Convent, YMCA, and YWCA ($496,000 in current dollars). Then in 1927, the City of Sacramento opened the zoo in Land Park and named it the William Land Park Zoo.  

Under our Mayor's watch, the City purchased the zoo property for $9.5 million; classified the zoo as a park so the residents could be taxed as part of their Mello Roos park tax assessments; will use about $70 million of taxpayer money, and $115 million of borrowed money to build the zoo; and meanwhile, the State Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Elk Grove for violating state affordable housing laws because the City denied a transitional housing project for the unhoused - not quite the spirit of William Land is it?

In a few years, a big part of William Land's legacy will be relocated to Elk Grove. We will miss the iconic zoo nestled among the giant oaks and the serenity of Land Park, surrounded by the nostalgic mid-century building architecture and meandering streets. 

The new Elk Grove Zoo will be stuffed next to generic stucco housing tracts and future strip centers along a massive 4-lane roadway extending from Highway 50 in Folsom to I-5 in Elk Grove.

Gone is the philanthropic spirit of William Land, and now the name of the game is to use taxpayer dollars to put Elk Grove on the destination map for political bragging rights. Unlike William Land, it is easy to spend other people's money. 

Mayor Bobbie, you're no William Land.

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

Thank you, Mr. Blutarsky, for providing the history of William Land and his legacy for Sacramento. Even as a longtime Sacramento region resident, I never knew the back story.

As for the legacy of small-time politicians, I wonder how many Elk Grove voters, much less residents, can name one or two of the original Elk Grove City Council members who took their oath 24 years ago on Monday? I bet if Councilmember Robles were asked, he would be hard-pressed, short of Googling or looking at the portraits at city hall.

Ms. Singh-Allen may think she will leave a legacy if the Elk Grove Zoo is built. However, after she's left office, the only thing left of her legacy —aside from burdening taxpayers—will be a plaque that will rust, attract pigeon droppings, and soon be in the dustbin of history.

Sid Vicious said...

I bet no knows that Dan Briggs, who was one of the first Elk Grove City Council members, was the son of John Briggs, author of 1978's Briggs Initiative. That initiative was so far to the right even Ronald Reagan was in opposition.

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