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Sonoma County elected leaders react to Koi Nation proposal for casino near Windsor

Koi Nation casino and resort proposal, at a glance

The Koi Nation, a federally recognized tribe of Pomo people from Northern California, on Wednesday unveiled plans to build a $600 million casino resort on 68 acres on East Shiloh Road near the Shiloh Ranch Regional Park on Windsor’s southeastern outskirts.

Here are some details about the tribe’s proposal, called the Shiloh Resort & Casino, and next steps:

The 1.2 million-square-foot project calls for 2,500 slot and other gaming machines, a 200-room hotel, six restaurant and food service areas, a meeting center and a spa.

It would be built on a vineyard property at 222 East Shiloh Road purchased by the tribe this month for $12.3 million.

It would be the third Las Vegas-style casino in Sonoma County and would rival in size the Graton Rancheria’s resort and casino outside Rohnert Park.

The 90-member Koi Nation submitted plans Wednesday in Washington D.C. to place the 68-acre East Shiloh Road tract in federal trust.

The tribe hopes to start construction on the resort in one to two years, and it’s expected to take another two years until it’s ready to open. The resort is expected to employ more than 1,100 full-time workers.

The tribe must also eventually negotiate with the governor for a gaming agreement, which needs to be ratified by the state Legislature, and then approved by the Department of the Interior.

Resort and casino revenue will allow the tribe to become economically independent and a portion will be shared with the wider Sonoma County community, according to tribal representatives. The tribe has also said it wants to collaborate with local governments to address their related needs.

The Koi Nation, a small Native American tribe in Sonoma County, unveiled Wednesday its ambitious proposal to build one of largest casino and resort complexes in Northern California near Windsor.

While the proposal must clear a number of government hurdles before it becomes reality, the prospect of 2,500 slot and other gaming machines, a 200-room hotel, six restaurant and food service areas, a meeting center and spa appeared to catch a number of Sonoma County leaders off-guard. Here’s a sampling of their reactions:

State Sen. Mike McGuire

“We are just learning about the details of this project. Based off of its initial description, the size and scope is deeply concerning. Sonoma County doesn’t need another casino and I oppose any new gaming outlets. While I honor and respect tribal sovereignty, this is not the right plan for the north county.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman

“I’m a little bit gobsmacked that something this big and this controversial would just be dropped like this … . I’m not saying there may not be a path to some economic development in Sonoma County, but you can’t put the cart before the horse.”

“This is not the Sunset Strip. I happen to believe we have enough casinos.”

Windsor Mayor Sam Salmon

“We have to recognize that tribal governments are different and there is the motivation by the federal government to provide land in trust and provide economic development incentives to Native Americans … . There’s historic reasons to try to provide some sense of fairness.’’

Windsor Councilwoman Deb Fudge

“I understand land was taken away from them in a very horrible manner and we all owe them something. It’s just very disappointing that they’re proposing a casino and hotel at the edge of Windsor … . I probably wouldn’t have contacted the town either, I get it … . They seem to have hired people at the top of their game in terms of public relations and so they’re expecting opposition.”

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins

“Counties are pretty much cut out of the process. We’ve been advocating just to get notification when a tribe submits a fee to trust application.”

Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore

“I am opposed personally to new casinos in Sonoma County. At the same time, I have to honor the process that is before it and I have to work with that process.”

Koi Nation casino and resort proposal, at a glance

The Koi Nation, a federally recognized tribe of Pomo people from Northern California, on Wednesday unveiled plans to build a $600 million casino resort on 68 acres on East Shiloh Road near the Shiloh Ranch Regional Park on Windsor’s southeastern outskirts.

Here are some details about the tribe’s proposal, called the Shiloh Resort & Casino, and next steps:

The 1.2 million-square-foot project calls for 2,500 slot and other gaming machines, a 200-room hotel, six restaurant and food service areas, a meeting center and a spa.

It would be built on a vineyard property at 222 East Shiloh Road purchased by the tribe this month for $12.3 million.

It would be the third Las Vegas-style casino in Sonoma County and would rival in size the Graton Rancheria’s resort and casino outside Rohnert Park.

The 90-member Koi Nation submitted plans Wednesday in Washington D.C. to place the 68-acre East Shiloh Road tract in federal trust.

The tribe hopes to start construction on the resort in one to two years, and it’s expected to take another two years until it’s ready to open. The resort is expected to employ more than 1,100 full-time workers.

The tribe must also eventually negotiate with the governor for a gaming agreement, which needs to be ratified by the state Legislature, and then approved by the Department of the Interior.

Resort and casino revenue will allow the tribe to become economically independent and a portion will be shared with the wider Sonoma County community, according to tribal representatives. The tribe has also said it wants to collaborate with local governments to address their related needs.

Emma Murphy

County government, politics reporter

The decisions of Sonoma County’s elected leaders and those running county government departments impact people’s lives in real, direct ways. Your local leaders are responsible for managing the county’s finances, advocating for support at the state and federal levels, adopting policies on public health, housing and business — to name a few — and leading emergency response and recovery.
As The Press Democrat’s county government and politics reporter, my job is to spotlight their work and track the outcomes.

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

Ethan Varian

Housing and homelessness, The Press Democrat 

I've lived in California for most of my life, and it's hard for me to remember when the state hasn't been in a housing crisis. Here in Sonoma County, sharply rising housing costs and increasing homelessness are reshaping what was long considered the Bay Area’s “affordable” region. As The Press Democrat’s housing and homelessness reporter, I aim to cover how officials, advocates, developers and residents are reacting to and experiencing the ongoing crisis.

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