A hearing was set for a judge to consider the Pechanga Tribe’s request to throw out a suit the City of Temecula filed against it.
A judge will consider the matter during a hearing at a federal court in Los Angeles on April 11, according to the city’s attorney.
The city filed the suit in October because the tribe broke a deal to pay for road improvements needed to support the extra traffic caused by the casino’s recent expansion, according to city records.
The tribe agreed in April to pay $10 million toward a project called the “Ultimate Interchange,” a $24.3 million project that will improve access to Temecula Parkway from I-15.
The interchange needs improving mostly because of the crowds the Pechanga Resort and Casino attracts, according to city records.
They also agreed to pay $2 million per year for 21 years to pay for other costs the casino incurs, such as increased police presence and infrastructure upkeep.
When Temecula voters gave the tribe the okay to expand in 2008, paying for the negative impact on the city was part of the deal, said Peter Thorson, the city's attorney, in a brief filed with the court.
“In short, in exchange for the right to expand its gaming facilities considerably, the tribe made several promises to the voters regarding the analysis and mitigation of off-reservation impacts,” Thorson wrote.
The city gave four reasons the judge should deny the tribe’s request to throw out the case.
First, the tribe waived its “sovereign immunity,” which ordinarily would protest it from being sued. Second, the city will be impacted by the casino’s expansion. Third, the court decided earlier this year it has jurisdiction over this matter. Lastly, the reason the tribe gave for throwing out the suit are based on facts the city disputes, according to Thorson’s brief.
The Pechanga Tribe is well known for eliminating 25% of their tribe to capture those per capita funds, which now totals over $1.3 million from EACH of 230 members. The resulting loss of income and health benefits have put the burden back onto the state of California.