Lawsuits have been filed to stop construction of a Hollywood-themed casino in Jamul. On Wednesday night, hundreds of Jamul residents packed a room to talk about the lawsuits and the multi-million dollar project. NBC 7's Candice Nguyen reports.
Hundreds of Jamul residents packed a room at Jamul Primary School Wednesday evening to discuss the construction of The Hollywood Casino Jamul, located on the Jamul Indian Village.
Since their last meeting, the Jamul Action Committee (JAC) has filed two lawsuits to stop construction. One is in federal court alleging the Jamul Indian Village of California does not have the right to build a casino on the land. The other is against Caltrans, accusing the agency of failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
The third lawsuit is from the County of San Diego, also against Caltrans.
“What we want Caltrans to do is comply with state laws, and they’re not doing that by allowing construction to move forward,” said Chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Dianne Jacob, who spoke at the meeting.
Many attendees, including resident Pat Alvarez, expressed concerns about traffic after the casino is built. She says the area is already congested.
“It would take us 45 to an hour to get home to our house if this casino was here, and that's just ridiculous,” Alvarez said.
No one from the Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV) was at the meeting. NBC 7 received this statement from them:
We appreciate the community's concerns regarding safety on the main thoroughfares of Jamul, which is why we are utterly dismayed by their legal action against California's Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Our Traffic Management Plan, approved by Caltrans which resulted in the issuance of an Encroachment Permit for our hauling activity, diverts construction traffic to the southeast and away from the businesses and neighborhoods in downtown Jamul. The operation includes flaggers, electronic signage, California Highway Patrol, and more to ensure the safety of travelers on SR 94.
In response to accusations that they don’t have the right to build a casino on that land, JIV wrote:
Jamul Indian Village of California is a federally recognized Sovereign Nation. As outlined by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs, JIV has the immunities and privileges available to other federally acknowledged Indian tribes by virtue of our government-to-government relationship with the United States of America. JIV entered into a Tribal-State Compact with the State of California on October 5, 1999 and it was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 5, 2000. Clearly, the law is on our side and we look forward to opening our gaming facility next year and finally being able to provide a greater quality of life for our people.
The Jamul Action Committee says it’s now focusing on fundraising to pay for legal fees. The casino is expected to open its doors in late 2015.