The Oxnard Journal
Press Conference on Casinos
1600 Pacific Avenue,
Oxnard California 93030
April 24, 2001
A Nevada gambling organization in conjunction with the Greenfield Rancheria is attempting to locate a gambling casino here in Oxnard. Eight years ago a similiar threat by a large out of city group failed, when the proposal and the many negative aspects of gambling were studied and the entire community rose in wrath.
This press conference is in response to what I perceive as a genuine outcry from a majority of our residents, who are mortified by the continual assault on our community by "out of city" interests, in attempting to bring organized gambling here.
The community is entitled to be aware of all aspects of the proposal prior to the Public Hearing scheduled for the Council Chambers on May 8, 2001.
The developers state Oxnard supports gambling because it voted in favor of Proposition lA. However it is generally accepted that most voters who supported Proposition lA or Proposition 5 understood and were trying to mitigate past inequities against Native Americans but assumed that Indian gaming would be conducted in existing Tribal lands, not in urban areas such as Oxnard. A cursory review of the literature used by both proponents and opponents of Proposition lA will quickly bear this out.
In 1993, when Oxnard had an opportunity to voice its opinion on gambling within the city, the results were overwhelmingly negative.
When many other California cities conducted local elections on permitting casinos the same year, prior to a change in the law, the votes were likewise overwhelmingly against the proposals.
Casinos were approved in some cities only when individual council members and senior staff were privately lobbied and convinced by developers.
Arguments regarding long term local government economic development benefit are certainly not borne out by reviewing conditions, before and after casinos were developed in Atlantic City and cities within the Los Angeles metropolitan area, such as Gardena.
Another developer argument being voiced is that the Outlet Center is in an area already approved for intense development and traffic generation permissive of an Indian casino. The intensity of current development at the Outlet Center cannot be compared to a casino designed to be operated 24 hours daily; year round. The demands to our Police Department and the transportation system will be much more intense for the casino. In fact, casinos are not even mentioned in the City of Oxnard General Plan. The traffic generated in Santa
Ynez, Palm Springs and San Diego is taxing their systems way beyond their capacity, according to testimony at the California Gaming Control Commission on April 16th. Data abounds on the effects of gambling on the justice system throughout the country.
The Outlet Center is in the general vicinity of the historic Santa Clara chapel, still used daily, two preschools and adjacent to the Northeast Community Specific plan that is home to St. John's Hospital, elementary schools, a middle school and a new high school, due to open in September. This specific plan area is destined to be the densest residential neighborhood in our city.
The desires of future neighbors should be seriously considered when citing gambling operations. Neighboring residents are the ones most affected by any negative impacts of this type of development.
The economic benefits of casinos come mostly to investors; the negative aspects come to nearby residents.
The fatal flaw which makes this proposal even less desirable than in 1993 is that proposition lA allows the development of a sovereign state (nation) within Oxnard, in the form of a federal land trust for the Greenville Rancheria. They, in conjunction with their Las Vegas partners would operate a Las Vegas type gambling operation within the city without the oversight that has evolved in Nevada. In dealing with a sovereign nation the city would be very limited .in recovery of costs. The city, county, state or federal governments would give u.p their jurisdiction or taxing authority. The city's experience in negotiating and executing legal documents with other entities such as the Los Angeles Raiders, the city and county of Ventura and in the management of our Materials Recovery Center should make it abundantly clear that it is not possible to anticipate and address all future problems in a a legal agreement. Dealing with a nation entails more risks than we should undertake. The city should not be mesmerized by the money being dangled as a carrot. It will prove to be a mirage .
We are sympathetic to the needs of the Greenville Rancheria and critical of the Federal Government's actions but their land was in Shasta, Lassen, Tehama and Plumas counties in Northern California. Our obligation is to the citizens of Oxnard and not to out of city interests driven by the desire for profit by Las Vegas gambling corporations.
/s/ MAYOR MANUEL LOPEZ