Friday, February 17, 2012

Jamul Indians, Four Years after Beatings And Evictions, Revive Casino Plans

The Jamul Indians have put out notice that casino plans are revived.

Several years ago, a public outcry ensued after the tribe floated plans for a 12-story, $350 million casino. Many residents said it would destroy their rural lifestyle and make driving on the windy, two-lane highway even more dangerous.

At a meeting of the Jamul-Dulzura Community Planning Group, Davis and other tribal representatives promised to meet with the advisory board as the project evolves.

Here's a description of what went on at the eviction:

The scene at the Jamul Indian Village on March 10 mixed irony with pathos in a combination that demonstrated the intense emotions that surround the proposal to construct a casino in Jamul (“Despite promise, homes demolished for casino,” Our Region, March 13). Walter Rosales and Karen Toggery sought two things – to preserve their homes, and to show respect for the remains of their ancestors buried on the land.

According to construction plans, their land, which they have lived on since childhood, and their homes will be bulldozed. Their ancestors' remains will be desecrated by a phantasmagoria of cement and neon that will be erected over their graves. They were evicted from their homes and jeered by the evictors. Dozens gathered to protest the eviction, facing pepper spray and beatings with metal batons to do so.

As we stood with Walter and Karen on that Saturday morning, a backhoe loomed in the foreground, obscuring the view of a hillside dotted with crosses from the Indian cemetery. Native American activists have persuaded politicians at the state and local levels to pass laws prohibiting desecration of the remains of their ancestors. Yet, apparently, such laws can be flouted with impunity by those who urged their passage.

Robert Mesa, a member of the Jamul Indian Village council, said he wants to make sure the tribe does a better job of informing nearby residents of its plans. He believes much of the animosity generated by previous proposals grew out of a lack of communication.

Michael Casinelli, chairman of the planning group, said the willingness of Indian representatives to appear before his panel was an encouraging sign.

"Everything previous to this point the public got through hearsay," he said.

He said whatever the scale of the new proposal, many residents are likely to still view a casino as incompatible with the community. Many believe it would create insurmountable traffic problems and pose serious fire safety issues.

"I think the public concerns are still the same," said Casinelli.

Davis, a Culver City architect who is serving as project manager, said the tribe is preparing a detailed environmental evaluation that will address those concerns and others.

A draft of that study is due out next month. Davis said Caltrans is working on its own environmental analysis that will focus on access to the project.

The gambling hall would be about 25 miles east of downtown San Diego. Mesa said it would not include a hotel.

Mesa said the six-acre Jamul Indian Village recently opened a 3,000-square-foot building on the reservation that will be used for tribal functions, including weddings and funerals

1 comment:

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