Gibson Ranch Facing Financial Troubles

ELVERTA -- As a family of birds plays overhead, the littlest Saechaos play on the jungle gym at Gibson Ranch.

It amounts to just about a perfect Tuesday afternoon for their mom and dad.

"It's actually pretty nice out here," said father Twan Saechao as his 17-month-old son Aydin bounced on his shoulders.

But that kind of 'pretty nice' for the Saechaos, fishermen and horse lovers is in peril thanks to this Sacramento County park's poor finances.

"Last year we had 100,000 visitors. So that's two years in a row we've been over 100,000, so we're doing something right," said operator and former congressman Doug Ose.

Except making money.

It's popularity is not paying off for Ose.

"I'm the ultimate backstop. County hasn't spent a dime on operating costs here for almost six years now," said Ose.

"Now he's in a position where he's not willing to do it at a loss, and he wants to revisit that contract and see what can we do to make it more equitable," said Sacramento County District 4 Supervisor Sue Frost.

Ose turned his first profit in 2015, clearing roughly $22,000, but followed that up with a $60,000 loss last year.

He attributes that to increases in labor, insurance and power.

That power issue -- or lack thereof -- may be one of the hurdles keeping the 325-acre park from boosting its bottom line.

Aside from terrible exiting backlog and restroom and drinking water problems, having limited electricity is something concert promoters have complained about.

"If I had a flat 80-by-120 stage, structurally sound with available 400-amp and three-phase power...they'd roll in here like who knows what," Ose said.

So far the county has said no.

Other ideas?

A hike to the current $5 per car admission fee and a more extensive parking expansion than Ose's already working on.

He's also proposed a contract change that would model Gibson Ranch's management after county golf courses.

Under such a plan, the county would hire an operator like himself, receive all the revenue at the end of each month and then reimburse the operator monthly.

The Saechaos say listen to the families who already use the park.

They think a large petting zoo could be the attraction that makes Gibson Ranch stable, and they would be willing pay extra to enjoy it.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss Gibson Ranch's budget and ways to renegotiate the contract with Ose next week.