City supports effort to stop Indian casino |

City supports effort to stop Indian casino

The South Lake Tahoe City Council joined the legal fray with El Dorado County Tuesday night in its court challenge against the Shingle Springs casino to be built on the West Slope.

The city, in a 4-0 vote with John Upton absent, agreed to offer an opinion as a friend of the court to challenge two federal agencies for their role in advancing the casino proposed by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. In doing so, City Attorney Catherine DiCamillo would offer staff time to the effort.

The county filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Sacramento in August against the National Indian Gaming Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs over the environmental assessment of the project. The complaint names Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Later this week, El Dorado plans to attack the building of the proposed $100 million mega casino on the basis of flawed tribal recognition. Ed Knapp of the county counsel’s office suggested findings that have linked the tribe to native Hawaiians.

He believes the matter will eventually be battled over in a trial.

“This is a fight to the death. The county is committed to doing what it can to stop it,” he said. “Once they’re in, they’re in there forever, and the effects are irreversible.”

Traffic, land use and the economy mark issues critics of the casino cite as reasons the construction of the 350,000-square-foot complex shouldn’t be built. Almost half of the area would be devoted to restaurant space alone.

The City Council expressed concern over the economic fallout of traffic clogging visitors west of Placerville and gamblers intercepted before reaching Stateline.

Knapp told the city the county calculated that Tahoe would lose about $45 million a year in revenue diverted from the local economy.

In more efforts to maintain its revenue base, the City Council also unaminously approved a hike to the vehicle-code penalties at the Crescent V Shopping Center from $25 to $50.

The increase adds another dimension to a stopgap plan intended to free up more parking space for the merchants’ customers. Since the November opening of the Park Avenue complex — anchored by two Marriott time-shares, the parking lot has been a hotbed of activity for visiting motorists and nearby workers. There’s now a two-hour limit on parking there, outside of Heavenly Ski Resort’s 150 leased spaces next to Highway 50.

The city hopes that once the on-site parking garage now under construction is finished in March skiers and visitors will have more places to park.

Parking in the garage will cost a motorist $3 an hour for up to five hours of use.

Close to the active section of town, Van Sickle Road was designated by the council in another action Tuesday as Bellamy Court.

Turning their attention to another important area of redevelopment, the City Council also approved the first reading of an ordinance designed to form a Ski Run Boulevard Business Improvement District. The proposed BID, due to return to the council Jan. 21, is intended to raise about $15,000 a year to maintain landscaping planned alongside the major thoroughfare’s bike trail. Work should begin on the trail this summer.

For more future planning, the City Council also agreed Tuesday night to taking part in a team-building session. But the dates, facilitator and cost plans are up in the air. To save on a considered $9,500 expense, City Manager David Jinkens may serve as a facilitator.

Jinkens, who was hired in August, received a 3 percent raise on his annual salary of $110,000.

In other business, the panel also agreed to pay a $500 increase in labor costs at the Lake Tahoe Airport’s air traffic control tower. The city will subsidize the operation for $3,766 a year.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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