Governor Opposes Point Molate Casino Project

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 15, 2009 - 12:57:00 PM

The Office of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Monday that it wants to terminate the Point Molate casino project. 

Andrea Lynn Hoch, the governor’s legal affairs secretary, has asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to reject the proposal by a Berkeley developer and the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to build a $1.5 billion casino resort on the Richmond shoreline. 

“We write to express opposition to this land acquisition,” Hoch wrote to BIA Regional Director Dale Morris and Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.  

While McLaughlin opposes the casino projects, the majority of her colleagues on the Richmond City Council have endorsed the plan and the developers’ promises of millions in revenues and thousands of new jobs in a city with high rates of unemployment and poverty. 

Before a casino can be built, the BIA has to take the land into trust as a reservation for the Guidivilles, a Northern California tribe which lost its reservation five decades ago.  

The proposed site on Point Molate is a former Navy refueling station deeded to the city under provisions of the federal Base Closure and Realignment Act, which provides for transfer of abandoned bases to local government for the purpose of creating new economic activity. 

The governor’s office charges granting the tribe the right to build a casino would violate state public policy and the “notions of cooperative federalism that lie at the heart of” the federal tribal gaming act and “may also undermine the constitutionality of California’s Indian gaming regime.” 

In closing, Hoch wrote, “Land acquisitions that would allow Indian gaming are contrary to the intent of the voters of the state and the state’s policy.” 

A copy of the letter was also sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. 

A Sacramento firm hired by the developers is currently finishing a joint environmental report under the provisions of both state and federal law, one of the final steps made before the BIA decides whether or not to grant the Guidivilles casino rights at the site. 

The project is being promoted by a consortium created by Berkeley developer and former environmental consultant James D. Levine, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Napa developer John Salmon and the Rumsey Band of Wintuns, who operate one of California’s richest gambling resorts, the Cache Creek Casino in Yolo County’s Capay Valley.