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San Pablo Says Casino Would Bankrupt City - Prepares for War with Richmond

Click here for the resolution adopted by the San Pablo City Council.

Richmond casino would devastate San Pablo, city manager warns

By Tom Lochner
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 09/02/2009 12:16:41 PM PDT

Updated: 09/02/2009 11:32:42 PM PDT


A casino-resort at Richmond's Point Molate would cannibalize an existing Indian casino in next-door San Pablo and provoke "urban decay," San Pablo's city manager predicted.

The San Pablo City Council unanimously approved a resolution this week declaring inadequate a draft environmental impact report on the Point Molate plan, in part because it fails to assess the potential economic devastation, deterioration of public services and resulting blight that would befall San Pablo.

The Point Molate project, a joint venture between Upstream Investments LLC and the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, assumes that the federal government will take 266 acres into trust as a tribal reservation.

The environmental report, commissioned by the city of Richmond and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, examines socioeconomic impacts of the Point Molate plan regionally for instance, on the greater San Francisco and Sacramento areas thus masking the effects on individual cities such as San Pablo, City Manager Brock Arner said.

Casino San Pablo, owned by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, accounted for about $12 million of San Pablo's $18.2 million general fund budget last year, mostly in the form of a percentage of gambling revenue. The Point Molate casino would be 240,000 square feet compared with Casino San Pablo's roughly 70,000 square feet. Moreover, Casino San Pablo is a Class II casino, limited to electronic bingo machines; a 2004 compact between the Lytton Band and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would have allowed more popular Class III slot machines, such as those planned for Point Molate, but the state Legislature balked at the idea.

"Should the Point Molate casino become operational as a Class III facility, the effect on operations in the City of San Pablo will therefore be immediate and drastic," the council resolution reads. "Police services will be substantially cut. Recreation programs will be substantially cut or eliminated. Aid to the (West Contra Costa) school district would cease. Street and sidewalk repair and graffiti abatement will be drastically reduced. Dozens of employees of the city would be laid off, including maintenance workers, planners, engineers and as many as 25 police officers."

Planning consultant Colette Meunier said that San Pablo's casino would account for about $100 million of the $174 million that the environmental report predicts a Point Molate casino would take away from other casinos in the region. San Pablo, she said, is only 2.5 miles from Casino San Pablo; even closer, she noted, is another casino planned for North Richmond by a group that includes the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians.

more information online

  The draft environmental report on the Point Molate casino-resort project is available at http://pointmolateeis-eir.com/documents/draft_eis-eir/report.htm.

  San Pablo City Manager Brock Arner's report and the text of San Pablo's resolution declaring the draft EIR inadequate are available as part of the Aug. 31 San Pablo City Council agenda packet at www.ci.san-pablo.ca.us/main/documents/c083109a.pdf.