Cheryl Schmidt: Public kept in the dark on Wilton Rancheria casino

Artist's rendering of the Wilton Rancheria's resort project in Elk Grove, Caifornia. Image by Wilton Rancheria Cheryl Schmit of Stand Up for California won't say who is funding her lawsuit that seeks to derail a casino for the Wilton Rancheria. But that isn't stopping her from claiming the public was kept in the dark about the tribe's plans:
It appears that the City of Elk Grove, Howard Hughes Corporation of Texas, Boyd Gaming of Las Vegas and the Wilton Tribe may have been working behind the scenes to bring the proposed Wilton Tribal Casino to the City for quite some time. All this without letting the people of Elk Grove know about plans to convert the north part of the mall site to casino, or seeking the input of those who will be most directly impacted by the project—the citizens.

We know that the proposed casino will diminish the size and scope of the long promised shopping mall, which means that the City will reap less taxable revenues from retail sales. We also know that with less taxable revenue, someone will have to reimburse $15.5 million to Howard Hughes Corporation for prepaid infrastructure. Unless the City has a clear answer to that question, it seems likely that the taxpayers will be on the hook for reimbursing Howard Hughes Corporation.

The timeline for the review process raises more questions than have been answered. The public was told in December 2013 that the Wilton Rancheria was proposing to build a casino along Highway 99 just outside of the City of Galt. The Bureau of Indian Affairs held a meeting in Galt right before the Christmas holidays to inform the residents of the project and to give them an opportunity to identify issues the agency should consider in reviewing the environmental impacts of the project. The National Environmental Policy Act requires the Bureau to consider project alternatives, but its selection of the Elk Grove site as an alternative is highly unusual. The mall site is only 35.9 ac. compared to the Galt site of 282 ac. The agency never treats a site that is a tenth of the size of the proposed site and already slated for another project as a “reasonable” alternative. Nobody during the hearings in Galt spoke about the Elk Grove Mall as the alternative location. It is now clear that the mall site was the only Elk Grove location evaluated in 2014 as part of the EIS alternatives.

Read More on the Story:
Elk Grove City Officials Failed to Provide Citizens an Open and Fair Process on the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Casino (The Elk Grove News 12/13)

Federal Register Notices:
Final Environmental Impact Statement and a Revised Draft Conformity Determination for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 14, 2016)
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 29, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 4, 2013)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Wilton Rancheria takes a huge step forward with casino project (12/13)
Non-Indian gaming firm fighting Wilton Rancheria casino project (12/6)
Wilton Rancheria continues to face mysterious casino opposition (12/01)
Wilton Rancheria still wondering about anti-casino campaign (11/28)
Wilton Rancheria faces shady opposition group in push for casino (11/18)
Raymond Hitchcock: Wilton Rancheria protects its sacred space (11/14)
Wilton Rancheria sees more local support for $400M casino project (11/02)
Wilton Rancheria continues to make progress on casino project (10/20)
Wilton Rancheria makes significant progress on casino project (09/28)
Group opposed to Wilton Rancheria casino won't reveal its backers (08/19)
Wilton Rancheria casino bid generates controversy in community (07/19)
Wilton Rancheria faces anonymous campaign against casino bid (7/14)
Wilton Rancheria shares plans for major casino at outlet mall site (7/7)
Wilton Rancheria plans casino by outlet mall under construction (06/16)
Wilton Rancheria picks alternative site for gaming development (6/10)
Wilton Rancheria focuses on two sites for potential gaming facility (02/17)
Wilton Rancheria considers a second location for potential casino (02/01)
Wilton Rancheria ready for BIA public hearing on gaming proposal (1/27)
Wilton Rancheria anticipates lengthy process for gaming project (01/13)
Wilton Rancheria sees BIA movement on long-awaited casino bid (01/04)
Wilton Rancheria at impasse with city over stalled casino bid (10/29)
Wilton Rancheria still waiting for BIA movement on gaming plan (02/27)