California’s Sycuan Casino will move forward with plans to expand the venue, with the addition of a new hotel and gaming space.
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has plans to create a 11-storey, 300-room hotel and a 21,000 sq ft gaming space hosting 500 new machines, bringing the total to 2,500, alongside a spa and fitness centre, a restaurant and additional parking facilities.
The project’s first phase is estimated to cost about $220m (E203m), and is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017, while the timing of the expansion’s second phase has yet to be determined.
“It’s an economic development project that will help the tribe’s economy and will create hundreds of non-native jobs for the surrounding community, as well as expand our entertainment offerings,” said Adam Day, Sycuan’s assistant tribal manager.
He affirmed that the expansion will boost the tribe’s revenues and economic health for its 130 members, as well as create hundreds of permanent jobs, in addition to generating more than 1,000 construction jobs over the two-year building period.
In a letter to Sycuan, San Diego County planning officials have raised concerns over a number of issues related to the new hotel, including its effect on the area’s already diminished groundwater supplies.
The tribe has a long history of being a good neighbour and mitigating its impacts, and this situation will be no different.
Darren Gretler, assistant director for the county’s Planning and Development Services, stated that the tribe’s environmental impact statement “does not adequately evaluate cumulative and direct impacts to groundwater resources.”
However, Sycuan contends that a new well being drilled on the reservation should provide adequate reserves for the new development, and that the tribe is also using a variety of water conservation methods including reverse osmosis that will offset the increased water use.
Day observes that the project is not subject to county approval because the development is on land belonging to a sovereign nation and therefore, as long as the project conforms to the compact that Sycuan has with the state, it will proceed.
While Sycuan could enter negotiations with the county on several of the plan’s elements, ultimately the county has little say on how the hotel and expansion project finally turns out.
“The tribe has a long history of being a good neighbour and mitigating its impacts, and this situation will be no different,” Day added.