Assembly approves Casino in Rohnert Park

ROHNERT PARK -- The California State Assembly today approved a pact between the state and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that will allow for a Las Vegas-style casino on the outskirts of Rohnert Park, a move that all but assures construction will begin on the controversial project.

Earlier this week, the state senate approved the compact, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in late march. The Assembly today ratified the compact by a vote of 64-3. The compact needed a two-thirds majority from the legislature to go forward. Now, the federal government has 45 days to sign off on the plans, a move most observers say is relatively routine once the legislature has approved.

The "No" votes were North Coast legislators Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Michal Allen (D-Santa Rosa) and Marik Yamada (D-Vacaville), who is running for reelection in a newly configured 4th District that includes Rohnert Park.

Scores of residents have come out against the proposed casino, which would total 534,000 square feet, including up to 3,000 slot machines and a 200-room hotel. The project is estimated to cost $700 million. Opponents say the project would negatively impact the environment, traffic in the region as well as the quality of life in Rohnert Park.

Supporters  say the  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 casino.  The sprawling urban complex could generate revenues in excess of $400 million per year, according to the compact. It is estimated that revenues to the city of Rohnert Park and Sonoma County could be as much as $100 million a year.

State Sen. Mark Leno sponsored the Senate Bill approving the project, which passed on a 34-4 vote, sending it to the Assembly.

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