The Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians is still awaiting final decision from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on their proposal to build an off-reservation casino in the city of Lenwood.
The final statement covering the environmental impact of the project was concluded back in April 2014. However, though the report has been filed, and the time for comments have passed, the final decision from the BIA has yet to come done, and there’s no word as to when a decision will happen.
The proposed location of the site is about 115 miles from the location of the tribe’s designated lands.
Lenwood’s city manager, Curt Mitchell updated the City Council at a recent meeting about the ongoing proposal and the current status of the delay.
He informed the City Council that the tribe has been requested to provide additional information, including an environmental impact report, and the request was in the process of being fulfilled.
The unique project falls under the regulations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The IGRA allows land to be taken into trust and then use to build casinos if the Department of Interior feels the action would be of a benefit to the tribe and not harmful to the community that’s surrounding it. After being approved through this process, the project would need the state governor’s signature to proceed.
In an environmental impact reported released on April 18th, it was estimated that the casino would be worth about $160 million in to Barstow, and bring in approximately 1,000 jobs, primarily in construction. When the casino is operational, reports estimate it will bring the community $126 million in annual revenue and over 1,000 jobs.
City officials have met with members of the tribe’s leadership on two separate occasions back in 2013 and 2014, according to City Manager Mitchell. He states that the tribe has ongoing wishes to develop property in the area, even if the development isn’t a casino. He also stated that the tribe had plans to submit the application for land and trust as well as a complete environmental impact report in the future. However to this date the current tribe chairman has not sat down with city officials. Mitchell is also uncertain the Los Coyotes tribe has made their intentions known to the BIA.
Charles Wood, the Tribal Chairman of the Chemehuevi band of Indians met with land owners in a private meeting to argue his case as to why their tribe was better suited and more prepared to build a casino in the Barstow, as opposed to the Los Coyotes band proposal.
The Chemehuevi tribe owns 40 acres of land at Lenwood and Arbuckle roads in Lenwood. The tribe claims that it has connections to the area ancestrally. The Chemehuevi tribe already has a gaming compact with the state in place that was approved back in 1999. The compact has provisions for 2,000 gaming machines. As of this time, there are 248 machines being utilized at a casino operated by the tribe in Lake Havasu.
About the tribes:
The Los Coyotes Reservation is located near the area of Warner Hot Springs, California, in a remote area of northern San Diego County and consists of over 25,000 acres of land. The tribe consists of 328 members, of which 82 live on the reservation due to the rugged terrain and slope that is unsuitable for housing or development.
The Chemehuevi Reservation borders Lake Havasu and the Colorado River for approximately 25 miles and is located in San Bernardino County. It has over 30,000 acres of territory and has 700 members, 300 of which live on the reservation. The tribe is headquartered at Havasu Lake, Ca.