The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement with the Pauma Band of Luiseño Mission Indians which will provide $38 million for improvements to State Route 76 east of Interstate 15.
The supervisors’ 5-0 vote August 6 approves the mitigation measures for the expansion of the Pauma tribe’s casino.
The tribe will contribute $25.5 million for operational improvements to Highway 76 between the Pala Casino and Valley Center Road, $6.5 million for improvements to the intersection of Pauma Reservation Road and Highway 76 (some of that includes work on Pauma Reservation Road itself), and $6 million for improvements to the interchange of I-15 and SR-76.
“We believe as a tribe that we’ve put something together that’s for the benefit of all of us,” said Pauma tribal chair Chris Devers. “It’s something that we’ve engaged ourselves totally in for the past year and a half.”
The agreement also covers wastewater, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service, and gambling addition treatment.
“I would hope that this type of an agreement would hold up as a model for other tribal governments,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
The Pauma and Yuima Reservation entered into a tribal-state gaming compact with the State of California in September 1999, and an amendment to that compact was approved in summer 2004.
The amendment requires that prior to the commencement of an expansion project the Pauma tribe must negotiate with the County of San Diego and enter into an agreement to provide environmental mitigation for off-reservation impacts and to compensate the county for public safety and gambling addition costs.
Pauma’s casino expansion plans include a 19-story hotel with 400 rooms, a 102,372-square-foot casino which includes 73,583 square feet of gaming area, 56,500 square feet of food and other retail facilities, 16,842 square feet for resort facilities including a spa and pool as well as a garden and a bar, a 19,383-square-foot indoor multipurpose events center, 120,547 square feet of administrative and service facilities, a six-level parking garage with 1,500 spaces, 2,350 surface parking spaces, up to three new groundwater wells, a 500,000-gallon water reservoir, expansion of the existing wastewater treatment plant, and a third sediment retention basin.
In addition to the contributions to the county and CalTrans for traffic impacts, the Pauma tribe also agreed to seek ways to expand availability of van and bus services for casino guests and to reduce traffic volumes by encouraging ridesharing and carpooling.
A Tribal Transportation Management Association, in conjunction with other tribes, will create and administer trip reduction strategies.
Pauma’s $25.5 million contribution to CalTrans will provide the full cost necessary for operational improvements to SR-76 between Pala Casino and Valley Center Road.
The improvements will include curve realignment just west of Pauma Reservation Road, improvements to the intersection of Cole Grade Road and SR-76, and additional operational improvements which may include passing lanes, shoulder widening, curve realignment, and intersection improvements.
The $6.5 million for the improvements to Pauma Reservation Road and the intersection of Pauma Reservation Road and SR-76 will include intersection signalization and widening of all three approaches to the intersection. The work on Pauma Reservation Road will include widening and drainage improvements.
The $6 million for the interchange improvements at I-15 and SR-76 will be paid to CalTrans.
The agreement with the county calls for the Pauma tribe to provide an adequate level of on-site security during all hours of operation. The tribe will pay the county $400,000 annually to cover the anticipated additional workload for the Sheriff’s Department and an additional $40,000 annually to cover additional workload expected for other Public Safety Group departments such as the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Probation Department, the Office of Emergency Services, and the Medical Examiner.
The Pauma tribe will construct and operate a new fire department on the reservation which will include a full-time fire chief and which will have on a continuous basis a Type 1 engine, a Type 3 engine, four professional firefighters, and two paramedics cross-trained as firefighters.
The tribe, either through augmentation of the reservation department or through an agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, will also provide on a continuous basis four additional firefighters and at least one additional Type 1 engine, heavy rescue engine, ladder truck, or light and air unit.
The tribe will also contribute $10,000 for the county’s regional light/air unit which assists emergency responders in large facilities and high-rise structures and includes self-contained breathing apparatus and emergency lighting capability.
The Pauma tribe will also provide the county with $200,000 annually for gambling addition treatment programs, and the tribe will extend its responsible gaming programs to the expanded casino.
The tribe will expand its wastewater treatment plant so that it will meet tertiary treatment standards and assure sufficient wet weather effluent disposal and storage capability.
Wastewater treatment effluent will be disposed of through on-reservation leach fields, percolation ponds, and beneficial re-use for irrigation and landscaping.
Storm water controls will be implemented during construction as well as for runoff from new parking and roof areas, and an additional storm water detention basin will be constructed.
The location of groundwater wells which will supply water to the casino will be restricted to avoid impacts to off-reservation wells.
The Pauma tribe certified a Tribal Environmental Impact Report (TEIR) on May 5 after the National Indian Gaming Commission issued a Finding of No Significant Impact. The County of San Diego reviewed and commented on the draft TEIR while it was being circulated.
Jacob called the agreement an example of government-to-government relations. “I certain appreciate the efforts on that,” she said.
“We’re ready to move forward,” Devers said. “It’s something that we can always build upon, something that is a start.”
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