Skip to main content

Elk Grove Citizen

Zoo Concepts Move From Planning to Council

Apr 11, 2024 10:04AM ● By Sharon Pearce

An illustration of what the proposed Elk Grove zoo could be. Citizen file image

ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - The Elk Grove Planning Commission hosted a public hearing April 4 to consider recommending to the City Council Rezoning as an Amendment to the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Master Plan, for construction of a new zoological park. It will contain facilities and activities on an approximately 103-acre site to be developed in four phases. 
The project site is located at 8663, 8665 and 8675 Kammerer Road. The main facility would be on about 65 acres and designed to support an average annual attendance between 1.1 and 1.6 million visitors. The facility would be organized into four primary zones: Green Corridor (the main pathway), Africa, California and Australasia. 
The initial plan presented to each of the commissioners in books of more than 900 pages designs the zoo projects to be consistent with the General Plan for inclusion in the Capital Improvement Project. If approved by City Council, it will take about five years to build out.
The recommendation, which the Commission adopted, was that the City Council certify the Environmental Impact Report, make Findings of Fact and adopt a Statement of Overriding Considerations and Mitigation Monitoring; adopt the Zoological Park Special Planning Area and rezone the project site to the Zoological Park Special Planning Area. It also recommends amending the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Master Plan; and approving a Conditional Use Permit; Tentative Subdivision Map with Subdivision Design Review; District Development Plan and Level 1 Design Review; and the Art Plan.
Christopher Jordan, director of Strategic Planning & Innovation, and other designers and planners participated in the presentation, which included a graphics show of designs of the site space displaying the zoo design plan, restaurants, parking, drive lanes and accommodations to the neighborhood.  
Emphasis was made that the circular roadway around the zoo would take visitors up in order to have an overview of certain spaces, including the African Savannah, from restaurants and cafes and a children’s play area.
It was explained that the Green Corridor is where visitors will experience animals, so visitors will always be brought back to it as they move around. The site would be set up like a mall with two anchors at each end. The zoo is left from the entry where the California display will be the first site seen. Education on how the animals are cared for would be to the right of the entry. A rubber-wheeled independent train to transport visitors is to be developed.  
Most of the public comments were positive and made by individuals who are active in the supportive community of the Sacramento Zoo and zoo animal work and education.
Some comments questioned the parking lot planned to the side of the zoo in front of a dedicated greensward for an adjacent residential neighborhood. It was originally to have been a soccer playing field, and one resident complained that “they were being thrown under the bus.” 
Another resident requested that the parking lot fencing be changed out to a wall conforming in continuity to the wall style of the home development.
This matter will be picked up at the City Council meeting on April 10 (6 to 10 p.m.).
Commissioner George Murphey, often appearing the most broadly scrutinizing member in reviewing submissions, was celebrated for his 17 years service to the commission in his final meeting. Murphey was presented with a plaque, and members of staff and each commissioner contributed independent personal memories of interacting with him, along with a compilation of one-word descriptions of him, which emphasized his kindness in mentoring Planning Commission members and staff.