NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
THE HONORABLE DIANNE JACOB
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Supervisor Jacob, welcome.
MS. JACOB: Thank you very much, Madame Chairman and members of the Commission.
I am the county supervisor and I represent the second supervisorial district in San Diego County. I think it would be helpful to know what that district looks like, briefly.
This district is the largest of the five supervisorial districts in our region. It covers more than 2,000 square miles, 535,000 constituents. Also most significantly in the second district are 10 of the county's 17 Indian reservations and all three of the county's gaming tribes: Sequan, Viejas, and Barona. All of the Indian nations in my district as well as throughout the county are an important part of this region's economic and cultural makeup. I'm very please to have the opportunity to speak to you today regarding Indian gaming, concerns and the relationship this county and the Indian tribes have established which I think is significant.
The Board of Supervisors has had some success in establishing a government to government relationship with the members of the tribes in second district. But this government to government relationship did not always exist. In the past, very frankly, there was little to no relationship and as a result of that it was very difficult if not impossible to resolve problems of mutual interest.
For example in 1994 there were two issues specifically focusing on proposed land uses and land annexation which were a cause of concern particularly to the surrounding communities.
The first was Astri Corporation, they were operators of the Sequan casino and they purchased property outside of the reservation, deeded it to the Sequan tribe for the purpose of bringing it into trust and providing the sovereignty to that new land.
When it was submitted to the Department of Interior, they requested that this newly acquired property be developed as I indicated tribal land, thus making it a part of the sovereign reservation. And as you no doubt are aware of such a designation were granted potential uses for the newly acquired property would not have been subject to any local land use laws or the community planning process.
Another situation occurred in the rural community of Jamul in that same year, '94. Representatives of station, station casinos based in Las Vegas entered into a management contract with the Homul of Mission Indians to develop a proposed $30 million casino on an existing six acre, six acre reservation and additional land they hoped to purchase have designated as tribal land. You can imagine the consternation of the community over such a proposal on a two lane road and very rural area.
Both these situations and the impact of residents on adjacent communities in terms of traffic, in terms of crime, property devaluation, would have been devastating.
It's one thing to respect the sovereignty which should be respected of existing tribal lands, but it's another to annex land simply for the purpose of circumventing local land use and zoning regulations. Big difference.
As a result of these two situations, this County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution in March of 1994 urging the Secretary of Interior to deny the designation of tribal land to newly purchased land acquired for Indian gaming and related uses. And today the Secretary has honored this Board's request.
Also, local governments incur the cost of law enforcement for gaming related crimes whether they are property crimes that occur at a casino or more serious crimes related to individuals who have been at the casino.
For example, the San Diego County Sheriff who is responsible for law enforcement adjacent to the three of the reservations where there is gaming, responded to almost 1,000 calls for service in 1996 alone.
Now I'd like to focus on the unique government to government relationship that we have established in San Diego County. Over the last several years, since 1994, the relationship between the sovereign tribal governments of Sequan, Barona and Viejas and San Diego County government has improved dramatically. In fact, these three tribes, the Sequan, Viejas and Barona casinos have become collectively the largest employer in the eastern San Diego County region. They employ more than 4,000 people with a payroll of $60 million in the second supervisorial district alone and $87 million annually county wide.
These three tribes spend at least $79 million on outside goods and services, donate at least $4 million annually to charities and community event. They are truly good county and corporate citizens, good partners.
Each day 15,000 people in addition -- every day 15,000 people in our region patronize these facilities. These three tribes clearly are major contributors to our economy, recreation, and our tourism industry.
And that's why in August of last year with the deadline for a compact with Governor Wilson, looming over their heads, I called on the governor to enter into negotiations immediately with Barona, Sequan and Viejas Indian tribes.
Subsequently, the Board of Supervisors unanimously supported this call for action. Our request included that any compact include a local government compound which identifies local concerns.
Number one, to allow for counties or cities to receive revenue from state to mitigate local problems assuming that the state would be receiving their share of revenues.
Number two, to provide a formal communication mechanism for early discussions at the local level to enhance government to government relationships, to determine potential impacts and mitigation requirements of any problems associated with new developments.
Barona, Viejas, and Sequan supported this action. This was a new beginning in San Diego County where we stood shoulder to shoulder, government to government on that day.And since then legal and political wrangling has long been, long ongoing regarding a compact.
It's very unfortunate. It's sad if not tragic that the same the casinos have continued to operate in a fashion which the community respects and enjoys.
While there are still some concerns in specific areas, there have clearly been some successes in addressing these concerns because of the government to government relationship.
A couple of examples. The newly open Viejas Outlet Center, the tribe is voluntarily collecting sales tax which will benefit the San Diego community as a whole. The outlet center is expected to gross in its first year some $30 million.
And, near Barona, the county and the Barona tribe are participating in a joint project to improve road. Barona has agreed to contribute $3 million to this project which will benefit the casino and its patrons as well as residences and commuter who use this road.
In addition to that, preliminary discussions have occurred with the county, the Viejas tribe and CalTrans to build a new off-ramp near the Viejas casino and outlet center which will benefit both Viejas and the community.
My point, the government to government relationship established between these tribes and the county of San Diego is working.
There is no easy answer but one thing is clear to me and that is this. That the answers are to be found at the local level. And what works in San Diego County may not work for the rest of the state and the rest of the nation.
I'd like to thank you for the opportunity of addressing this issue before you today and providing a local perspective and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you very much. Are there any questions from Commissioners?
We really do appreciate your being here and appreciate the Senator recommending you to this Commission. It is always helpful to have a perspective from state and local official and we appreciate the time that you've given to be here today.
Thank you very much.
MS. JACOB: Thank you.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Is that your own fan club?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Hey, she's going to be re-elected.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: She's going to be re-elected, you think.