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Petaluma City Council seeks halt to Rohnert Park casino



The Petaluma City Council Monday night agreed to ask North Bay legislators to vote against ratifying the governor’s gaming compact with the Federated Indians of

Site of the newly approved Rohnert Park casino. (PD FILE, 2012)

Graton Rancheria, arguing the deal doesn’t take into account traffic and water problems the Rohnert Park casino-hotel complex could bring to the area.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the compact March 30, which allows the closest large-scale casino to the Bay Area, a $433 million complex with 3,000 slot machines, 5,500 parking spaces, a 200-room hotel, restaurants and bars.

The 534,000-square-foot project is planned for just west of the Scandia Family Fun Center, behind Home Depot and WalMart adjacent to Rohnert Park city limits.

Councilmen Mike Healy and Gabe Kearney asked the council to send a letter seeking legislators’ help in stopping the casino, which is seen by some as inevitable, particularly now that compact has been signed.

After some initial opposition by Councilwomen Tiffany Renee and Teresa Barrett, the council voted 6-0 to send the letter. Mayor David Glass was absent, but authorized the city manager to sign in his stead.

Renee actually abstained from the vote, saying she thought the city could more effectively negotiate with the tribe directly. But under city rules, because her abstention wasn’t related to a conflict of interest her non-vote was recorded as a yes.

Chip Worthington, a leader of Stop the Casino 101 coalition, urged the council to take action.

“This compact excludes you. You have no legal right to ask for anything,” he said. Sending a letter says: “You must deal with us. You must recognize us.”

The state Legislature and the federal Department of the Interior must ratify the compact for it to take effect, although such actions have been considered routine. The Legislature has only rejected one.

Healy said recent public opposition to the compact by other Indian tribes that operate casinos may mean this deal can be blocked.

“A letter from us is going to be very influential at this time,” he said.

Some tribes have said they will oppose the deal because they believe it relinquishes some tribal sovereignty, allows local governments too much control and gives up more profits to surrounding jurisdictions.

This is the first compact to require that a tribe and local governments reach agreements to address the casino’s impacts in open-ended ways not tied solely to construction of the project and to problem gambling. That gives the county and Rohnert Park room to negotiate substantially greater financial concessions in the future.

The 274-page compact outlines possible earnings of $400 million annually. Under the terms of the compact, millions of dollars a year would flow to local governments, other Indian tribes and the Las Vegas company that is financing and would manage the casino, in addition to the tribe’s 1,300 members.

The tribe in 2003 reached a deal with Rohnert Park that provided $200 million to the city over 20 years. An agreement with the county hasn’t been reached.

No date has been set for when the state legislators are to vote on ratifying the compact.

11 Responses to “Petaluma City Council seeks halt to Rohnert Park casino”

  1. zac says:

    we took ther land, give them there casino

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  2. Paying Attention says:

    Sonoma County residents that don’t want a casino should call Gov. Brown and tell him why.

    Phone: (916) 445-2841


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  3. @ Chris Snyder says:

    Chris supports this projects, as well as Dutra, simply because he gets paid to do so – he’ll support any project regardless of the environmental concerns if it means his union benefits from short term construction jobs. Chris moved to Petaluma only a year or so ago just so he could call himself a resident and parade in front of City Hall carrying signs calling our City Council job killers for opposing Dutra and yelling out his megaphone. The fact his, he doesn’t care at all about jobs in general. He cares nothing about the jobs that projects he support cost the community. As long as it’s money for Local 3, he supports it. Then, he takes his union dues and spends it on hit pieces against Democratic endorsed candidates who are more interested in the public interest than Chris’ union interest. Notice he doesn’t mention all the jobs being created by local companies in Petaluma that don’t require his construction workers. Those don’t matter, even though they actually bring in more revenue to our community. And tourism? He talks about casino goers coming to Petaluma to spend tourist dollars while ignoring the facts about casino goers. Generally, this demographic stays at the casinos….and by all reports, the casino will do its best to ensure people remain on their property and spend as much money as they can….that we receive zero taxes from. Oh, and of course if Chris gets his way, we’ll have an excellent tourist magnet at the gateway of Petaluma and wine country….an asphalt plant courtesy of Dutra and the board of sellouts (I mean supervisors), headed by Carillo.

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  4. Patrick says:

    Better the casino than another vineyard. Funny how RP is posting “Cows Not Casinos” signs all over when the whole damned town is built over former dairy land.

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  5. Paying Attention says:

    As a citizen of Rohnert Park, clearly my voice isn’t as powerful as my city council. I thank Petaluma’s city council members for their help. It matters.

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  6. Chris Snyder says:

    So we want the economy to rebound? Yet the concerns of Petaluma is that we will have too many people coming into Sonoma County and spending money. Maybe that is not their complete arguement but that in effect the logical conclusion of their thesis. I frankly wish the city would spend their money fixing potholes instead of another attempt to kill economic development outside their own city limits.

    What will happen if the casino is built.The people staying in the resport casino will not be holed up the whole time. They will be touring about Petaluma and other parts of the Sonoma County. The restraunts, wineries and other businesses will all benefit from the tourists attracted to Graton Rancheria.

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  7. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    RE: Rydin Shotgun – “And this is the Petaluma’s City Councils business why?”

    As a resident of Rohnert Park who never got a say, never got to vote on the planned casino, I say ‘who cares why Petaluma city council wants to get involved’, but I’m glad they are trying to get involved. For example, you can’t say increased highway 101 traffic won’t be an issue for Petaluma; just look what happens when you run your corn-maze.

    I’m still hopeful that somehow, some way, the residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati should get to vote on whether we want a mini-Reno, and all the crime that comes with it, in our backyard.

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  8. Rydin Shotgun says:

    And this is the Petaluma’s City Councils business why?

    The citizens of Petaluma need to flush these fools out of office. What a complete WASTE of time.

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  9. Kim says:

    Once again the city council wastes time with something they have no say in. And, once again the Mayor continues his lunacy by authorizing the city manager to sign the letter before Glas heard any and all public comment. One can not fail to mention Tiffany Renee’s lack of knowledge on how her votes work on the city council (and she wants to replace Woolsey…LOL)
    Cris Worthington said “Sending a letter says: “You must deal with us. You must recognize us.” LOL As IF the messed up state legislature give a HOOT about what Petaluma thinks. Can you say “delusional”?
    Last night’s city council meeting was better than Comedy Central!

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  10. James Todd says:

    WO! The City of Petaluma is SO against new business that they’re now meddling in the affairs of OTHER cities! Nice to see that they’ve fixed all the problems here, like potholes, out-of-control pensions, etc.etc.etc.
    It’s time to vote these morons out! Any of the council members that felt it was okay to WASTE TIME by addressing this needs to go!

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  11. Rydin Shotgun says:

    And this is the Petaluma’s City Councils business why?

    The citizens of Petaluma need to flush these fools out of office. What a complete WASTE of time.

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