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Point Molate News
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, which is the financial backer of the proposed Point Molate Casino and Resort, has backed off on its plans to expand its flagship Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County, citing "risks and uncertainties in the economic environment."

Meanwhile, the City Council will ask the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission to review the final submitted design concept for the proposed Point Molate Casino and Resort, a step that was previously unanticipated but is intended to occur without delaying the overall project review schedule.

Tribe halts expansion plan at Cache Creek casino

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By Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009 - 8:07 am

Citing the economic downturn, the tribe that owns the Cache Creek Casino Resort in the Capay Valley said Tuesday it had pulled its plans for a massive expansion.

The news brought relief to opponents in the rural valley and eliminated a source of tension between the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and Yolo County officials.

"The plans to expand the casino resort have been withdrawn," said Brent Andrew, a spokesman for the tribe, because of the "risks and uncertainties in the economic environment."

The plan had been to triple the size of the casino complex to 1.2 million square feet - adding a 10-story hotel tower with 467 rooms, a 62,500-square-foot event center and thousands of square feet for dining, shopping and gambling.

Instead, Andrew said the tribe decided to focus on the quality of its existing operations and would weigh its options going forward, depending on what happens with the gambling industry.

Casinos have not been immune from the economic downturn. Patrons are still showing up but spending less, said Doug Elmets, a spokesman for the United Auburn Indian Community.

Earlier this year, the United Auburn tribe, which owns the Thunder Valley Casino, scaled back plans for a 23-story hotel tower and event center, opting for a 15-story tower and no event center, Elmets said.

The decision by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation to abandon its plans came as a surprise Tuesday to residents of the scenic, winding valley in western Yolo County.

Some had feared the expansion would overwhelm their almond orchards and organic farms. The casino already dwarfs all other structures along Highway 16.

"It's really wonderful news," said Paul Muller, one of the owners of organic Full Belly Farm in Guinda. "It's nice to know we won't be overwhelmed."

Muller said he hoped the decision wasn't just about economics but a sign that the tribe "is listening to the concerns of the community and rediscovering their cultural values inherent in the valley."

As the expansion plans moved forward, Yolo County officials pressed the tribe for millions of dollars in mitigation funds to offset the impacts. The two sides had reached a stalemate in contentious negotiations and were preparing for arbitration.

County spokeswoman Beth Gabor said the tribe's final offer was for $3.5 million per year to pay for impacts on traffic, air and water quality, and county services. That would have been on top of the $5 million a year the tribe already pays the county, she said.

Officials called the offer insufficient.

"We just didn't agree on the impacts, whose responsibility they were and what the price tag was," said Mike McGowan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

He said there was no longer a need for the mitigation funds - and no longer a reason for the tribe and county to be at odds.

"I look forward," he said, "to a renewed and enhanced working relationship."

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Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

Richmond Design Review Board, Planning Commission to look at Point Molate hotel-casino resort

By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 10/07/2009 01:26:55 PM PDT

Updated: 10/07/2009 01:26:55 PM PDT

 

RICHMOND Two citizen advisory bodies will make recommendations to the Richmond City Council on the hotel-casino resort proposed for the city's waterfront.

The Design Review Board will review design review documents in December, and the Planning Commission will review the final environmental impact report by Dec. 31 at the earliest.

The Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians and developer Upstream want to build a resort at the old Point Molate Naval Fuel Depot north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Plans call for a 240,000-square-foot casino with 124,000 square feet of gaming; 122,000-square-foot conference center; 48,000-square-foot entertainment center; 300,000 square feet of restaurants and shops; two hotels totaling about 1,100 rooms; 145 acres of hillside open space; a 35-acre park; and a 1.5-mile segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Guidiville and Upstream need federal and state approval, beyond navigating the city's review process.

The suggestion that the Design Review Board and Planning Commission should give more input to the City Council roused concerns among hotel-casino resort supporters, who worry an extended review will stall a project they see as critical to providing jobs locally. A City Council majority said it is about getting more feedback on an important issue.

The deadline to comment on the draft environmental impact report is 5 p.m. Oct. 23.

The document is at Richmond Main Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza; Richmond City Hall, 450 Civic Center Plaza; and online at www.pointmolateeis-eir.com/documents/draft_eis-eir/report.htm. Written comments can be submitted to Lina Velasco, Senior Planner, City of Richmond Planning Division, 450 Civic Center Plaza, P.O. Box 4046, Richmond, CA 94804.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787. Follow her on Twitter: @katherinetam.