ROHNERT PARK -- A Las Vegas-style Indian casino has been proposed -- and is nearing approval -- for the outskirts of Rohnert Park, prompting a high-pitched debate on whether the city and the county are properly suited for the project.
Opponents argue that the casino, for which Gov. Jerry Brown signed a compact backing the project in late March, will have a significant impact on traffic, the environment and the overall quality of life in Rohnert Park. Scores of residents in Southern Sonoma County have come out against the project, particularly in Rohnert Park and Petaluma.
The compact is between the state and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. The state legislature must sign off on the deal, which has been fast-tracked and goes before an Assembly committee on Wednesday. The compact must be ratified by lawmakers and needs a two-thirds majority from the full Legislature.
Supporters, meanwhile, say the $433 million project would be a boon to the economy, creating more than 750 construction jobs to build the casino and a 200-room hotel. Organized labor in the North Bay has been a steady backer of the project.
The casino project, totaling 534,000 square feet, would be the largest in the Bay Area. It would have up to 3,000 slot machines, 5,500 parking spaces and the 200-room hotel. According to the state compact, the sprawling urban complex could generate revenues in excess of $400 million per year. It is estimated that revenues to the city of Rohnert Park and Sonoma County could be as much as $100 million a year.
Opponents have formed the Stop the Casino 101 coalition and are lobbying local legislators to oppose the project. The coalition says it conducted a poll on the casino and found that 68 percent of the more than 5,400 county residents surveyed remain opposed to the project.