Opinion: Pauma Band's casino expansion a threat

"Many Pauma Valley residents and visitors want their elected and appointed government officials to act so that the big business of American Indian gaming does not result in deadlier business -- more traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities -- and so that a monument to gambling, in the form of a 23-story hotel, does not become the focal point of the rural vista of the valley.

Traffic congestion, accidents and fatalities are regular occurrences on California's SR-76. The accident rate over the 15 miles from its Interstate 15 interchange to its Valley Center Road junction is already 2.5 times that of a similar California road. The 693 accidents, including 408 fatalities and injuries, from January 2001 to December 2005 resulted from outdated road design, the dispositions of some drivers and the traffic patterns of casino patrons visiting the 6,100 slot machines now available in the vicinity of Pauma Valley (Pala, Pauma, Rincon and Valley View casinos) ---- 10 percent of all slot machines in California.

In advance of environmental approvals and mandated agreements with the county of San Diego, the Pauma Indians have apparently started construction to extend Casino Pauma to 2,000 (up to 2,500) slot machines with a 23-floor, 400-room hotel. The developers project that the extension will add 4,000 vehicles per day to today's 10,000 to 16,000 average daily traffic near Casino Pauma on SR-76.

A 23-floor hotel built in the center of the rural agricultural valley would be the tallest building for 30 miles around and would markedly and unnecessarily impact the aesthetics of the valley. A lower-height, larger-footprint building (as the Pala Casino Hotel) could provide the same facility, be far less visually intrusive and create less light pollution affecting the off-reservation vista and Palomar Observatory."

Get the Story:
Charles Mathews, William Taylor and Roger Warburton: Growing casino threatens Pauma Valley (The North County Times 9/26)