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Indian casino faces legal battle

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sides are lining up to wage a legal attack against Miwok Indians from Shingle Springs.

A day after El Dorado County filed a lawsuit against two federal agencies for their role in advancing its proposed Shingle Springs casino, a representative with a group of homeowners opposing it pledged a similar challenge to be filed within the month.

“If I was in Tahoe, I would be absolutely outraged,” said Ron Dosh, a Placerville attorney with the Voices for Rural Living.



Beyond the impact Shingle Springs residents believe the proposed 350,000-square-foot structure would have on local services and quality of life, Dosh contends the location would cut into the South Shore economy.

He said the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance has been approached to support the effort. Executive Director Steve Teshara was unavailable for comment.



The coalition plans to join the county in a legal fight with the National Indian Gaming Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs — which names Interior Secretary Gale Norton — over its failure to consider the environmental impacts of the casino.

County Supervisor Dave Solaro, who represents South Lake Tahoe, takes issue with the federal agencies’ finding no environmental impacts in the $100 million casino’s effect on the semirural area.

Solaro contends the tribal advocacy groups took public comments for the draft environmental assessment, but they never answered the claims. The county discovered the report’s findings in passing.

“It was strictly written 100 percent in favor in a biased manner,” he said.

The county claims the tribal groups used outdated U.S. Census data to come up with its finding, failing to take into account the area’s high rate of growth in population and housing.

The level of highway traffic was mentioned as a concern, too.

“It attempts to estimate trip rates by examining other casinos that are one-fourth to one-sixteenth the casino’s size,” the complaint filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday reads.

Among many issues, the landscape has also come into question.

The county estimated in the complaint that 227,000 cubic yards of dirt on a 50-degree slope will be graded for the “largest single commercial development in the history of El Dorado County.”

Solaro said the county has seen no grading or building plans on the 160 acres.

A BIA regional representative in Sacramento said tribes have no obligation to do so because they are not subject to county building ordinances on federal land.

“We always encourage tribes to work with local governments,” BIA federal spokeswoman Nedra Darling said, adding the project “may not be to that state” of submitting them.


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