March 1, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO - The California First Appellate District in San Francisco has handed a major setback to anti-casino and environmentalist groups trying to block construction of a 225,000 square-foot casino on 30 acres in Richmond.
The court reinstated the casino agreement made in December 2006 between the City of Richmond and the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians and ruled an environment review is not required for the deal.
The tribe had agreed to a municipal services agreement to pay Richmond $8.2 million for fire protection, police and public works projects plus several million dollars annually for the next 20 years. The Parchester Village Neighborhood Council and some East Bay environmental groups tried to block the project in a lawsuit claiming the city needed an environmental review before agreeing to the casino.
The trial court casino had determined that the Indian casino was subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
However, the appeals court disagreed because the casino is to be built the city boundaries, which excludes it from the CEQA.
Justice Robert Dondero wrote "While the municipal services agreement does indicate that the city agreed to support the tribe's efforts to acquire the land and to obtain the requisite approvals from the (Bureau of Indian
Affairs) and the Governor, this expression of support does not transform the casino into a 'project' so as to trigger an environmental review."
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