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January 18, 2008

HEMET, CA - The Bureau of Indian Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior conducted a public meeting earlier this month to hear concerns of local residents regarding plans by the Soboba Band of Luiseņo Indians to annex 535 acres near their reservation for a new casino and hotel.  The agency is also accepting written comments through this Tuesday 1/22.

More than 200 residents turned out for the public meeting to express their concerns about increased traffic congestion, noise and light pollution, home property values, and other environmental issues.

The Soboba want to replace their existing casino with a new resort complex that includes a 90,000-square foot casino, restaurants, conference facilities, a spa, a 300-room hotel, and a multi-level parking garage.  The location is 535 acres along Soboba Road northwest of Lake Park Drive that the tribe wants to annex to their reservation and then place it into federal trust for the purpose of building a casino.

Based on local reaction, the tribe is facing significant opposition.  Tribal leaders told the community they will address their concerns before starting construction.  "We'll take them back to the Tribal Council and let it know the full scope," said the former Tribal Council Chairman Robert "Bobby" Salgado. However residents are fearful the project will proceed unless they take legal action.

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