A Northern California county that has strongly opposed a proposed Indian casino and resort flipped its opposition to support last month.
Contra Costa County supervisors voted on a tentative agreement with the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to support that tribe’s proposal for a $1.5 billion casino and resort at Point Molate, an old Navy fueling station that the city of Richmond has acquired, and wants to develop.
The agreement, besides paying the county $12 million annually, would also guarantee that the lion’s share of jobs would go to local residents.
The county’s approval is probably the least of the Upstream Point Molate project’s many hurdles to bring to life the vision of a 124,000-square-foot casino, two hotels, retail shopping, a conference center and over 300 residential units.
The county recently had to cut its budget by $150 million. The city of Richmond already has a deal with the tribe to be paid $20 million annually. Some longtime opponents of the casino called the supervisors’ action a “sell-out.”
Jim Levine, one of the principals of Upstream, which will develop the project for the tribe, commented, “Obviously, if you have local support things go smoother.”
If this project goes forward it will make it harder to plug the dike to keep other Northern California tribes, such as the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians and the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, from joining the flow. The county is already in talks with the Scotts tribe.
The county had spent $1 million to fight the project, including hiring an archeologist to try to poke holes in the Guidevilles’ claims to having historic ties to the area. It has dropped that objection.
The federal approval for Point Molate and related projects could become more likely if the Obama administration were to reverse a policy that was adopted two years ago under the Bush administration that made it more difficult for tribes to engage in what critics call “reservation shopping,” i.e. finding land many miles from the tribe’s reservation and applying to have it made reservation land.