January 18, 2009


The Land Park Community Association was created with a noble cause.  In

response to the “Sacramento Zoo’s Master Plan 2002″ a community gathering was organized.  Residents of this unique and quality neighborhood gathered in a common concern.  The Master Plan 2002 had some changes that would dramatically alter the “flavor” of our 144 acre William Land Park.  A two story administration building was to be added behind Fairytale Town.  A pedestrian bridge was to be spanned over Land Park Drive between the Sacrament Zoo and Fairytale Town.  There was even mention of a two story parking structure where the soccer fields are.  I was proud to be a founding member of what was to be later named the “Land Park Community Association”.  We succeeded in creating a wonderful, updated Zoo without negatively affecting the park. After a couple of years as treasurer, I passed the torch to another deserving resident.

The association has accomplished much in the 20+ years since it’s inception.  Land Park and the surrounding businesses have become much more pedestrian friendly.  Due to the willing volunteers, trees have been planted, park residents (squirrel, ducks, geese and fish) have a better quality of life and our major thoroughfare medians are beautiful.  They helped orchestrate the proper reconversion of 21st Street and Freeport Boulevard to two-way streets. We enjoy such events as the community Easter Egg Hunt and the “Taste of Land Park”…a wine and food extravaganza. The members are passionate and dedicated.  Several of them have given a better part of their free time to the association over many years.

The association has also taken on issues that were not as readily approved of by the neighborhood.  They took on McDonalds, forced construction that did not include a drive through which ultimately put the new McDonalds out of business.  They challenged the designs of a myriad of local buildings including Oto’s, Target and the Jamba Juice/Walgreens/Starbucks development.  The result was increased costs and delays to Oto’s, a delay in the construction of the brand new Target to the point that the plans have been suspended, and a second story to Jamba Juice that makes no sense whatsoever.  Most developers are now wary to initiate new developments in the Land Park area as a result of this history.

The association is now at a crossroads.  One faction veers towards the status quo, taking on issues as they arise and continuing the existing organization of the association.  The other faction veers toward change in such avenues as terms limits, expanding the association board numbers and opening up the nominating process to become a board member. Unfortunately, both groups appear to be adopting a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach, both in communication and basic premises.  There is no two-way communication.  The association has been split by two warring factions.

The tragedy of all of this is that both factions have valid ideas.  Combined, they have promise.  This board has the potential to be better than it ever has been.  Sadly, when it became personal, it went beyond any possibility of reparation.  The dislike these people have for each other is palpable at every meeting.  The respect and attention for the concerns of the public are no longer part of the agenda.  Opportunities for criticism of opposing board members seem to be more important than the needs of the community.

What, then is to be done? Hope may be in the form of a new, fresh association that creates itself from the lessons of this board.  Term limits and an increased number of board members are necessary to a continuum of new and free-flowing ideas.  An understanding of the role and limits the association should play in relation to the community is critical.  This neighborhood deserves an association that they can be proud of…one that can be touted to newcomers to the neighborhood, to the city council and to local businesses as being friendly and open.  Residents should want to not only attend the monthly meetings, but be a part of the board.  We are at a crossroads…which path will we take?


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