VALLEJO (KPIX 5) — U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein says California has too many casinos already and the Bay Area doesn’t need another one.
Feinstein is leading the effort to squash a Native American tribe’s megaproject in Vallejo.
Feinstein is speaking out as word spreads about a proposed casino in the heart of Vallejo’s city limits.
“How much gambling do we need to have in California?” Feinstein asked Monday.
“I’ve seen the buses pull up at housing projects and take people to gambling facilities from here when the Social Security checks come in. Candidly, that’s not a good expenditure of money for these people,” Feinstein said.
The casino is proposed by the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, a tribe based almost a hundred miles away in Lake County.
Because these matters are handled by the federal government, the city of Vallejo says it only found out about the project in July even though it has been in the works more than a year.
The plans for the casino even caught city leaders off guard.
Vallejo city manager Daniel Keen said, “We were stunned. We were stunned.”
The casino would be built at the intersection of state Highway 37 and Interstate Highway 80, an already traffic-congested corridor.
The $700 million proposed casino would add to that traffic.
However, it would create jobs. It would be the largest employer in the city, the tribe says.
It would also provide tribal housing.
Tribal council liaison Crista Ray said, “Our goal is to have a homeland for our tribe. Our tribe has been landless for 150 years at a minimum.”
Already, Napa and Solano counties as well as three congressmen have joined Feinstein and the city of Vallejo in opposing the project.
One Vallejo resident said the development could be good for jobs, while another resident said he wasn’t likely to gamble at the casino if it was built.
The process is far from over.
The project application is sitting on the desk of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and they will ultimately determine whether the tribe can reclaim the land as theirs.
The tribe plans on the casino being a very profitable project and the application for the casino says local government would get a portion of the profits from the casino.