By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

County to consider case-by-case review of fee to trust proposals May 4


Last updated 4/21/2021 at 10:48am

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to replace the county’s automatic opposition of reservation fee to trust proposals with review on a case-by-case basis.

A 4-1 board of supervisors vote, April 7, approved a continuance to May 4. Jim Desmond cast the dissenting vote on the grounds that he wanted the changes approved on the original day. The April 6 board of supervisors meeting lasted until approximately 11:30 p.m., so Supervisor Nora Vargas was unable to address concerns which had been raised.

“This has waited too long,” Desmond said.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has a process to transfer land already owned by an Indian tribe into the reservation. In 1994, the board of supervisors approved a resolution to oppose all fee to trust applications by tribal governments in San Diego County. Although an Indian reservation is sovereign, a reservation which desires to serve alcohol must obtain a liquor license from the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and in June 2001, the board of supervisors adopted criteria for liquor licenses on tribal land which exceed the requirements for similar establishments not on a reservation.

“We’re not hearing what they do and the merits of it,” Desmond said.

“It makes no sense at all,” Bo Mazzetti, tribal chair of Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, said.

“That does nothing but discriminate against tribes,” Erica Pinto, tribal chair of Jamul Indian Village, said.

If the resolution passes May 4, the policies on fee to trust transfers and reservation liquor licenses would be repealed. County staff would analyze each fee to trust application and each liquor license application on a case-by-case basis, and county staff would also work with tribal governments and surrounding communities to minimize off-reservation impacts.

“It doesn’t give blanket approval to anything,” Desmond said. “We can still oppose projects we don’t like. All this does is remove the blanket no to everything.”

The likely May 4 action would also reinstate the county’s tribal liaison position. In 2001, Chantal Saipe was selected to be the county’s tribal liaison, but Saipe retired in 2009 and there is not currently such a position. The tribal liaison position would be responsible for interaction between tribal governments and county departments including social services and emergency services as well as land use and intergovernmental agreements.

“This new direction is something that is beneficial to the entire county of San Diego,” Pinto said.

“I look forward to working with you and collaborating,” Temet Aguilar, tribal chair of Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, said.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected]


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