Legislator Calls for San Pablo Casino Input

California Assemblywoman Loni Hancock is calling for a 45-day public feedback period on a plan to build a 2,500-slot machine Indian casino in San Pablo, just seven miles from Golden Gate Fields.

California racing officials predict dire consequences for racing in the northern half of the state if the compact between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Santa Rosa-based Lytton Band of Pomo Indians is approved by the legislature and the casino is built.

Hancock, a democrat whose Berkeley district includes the proposed San Pablo site, is opposed to the arrangement between the governor and the tribe. Hancock's legislative aide told the Tri-Valley Herald she'll introduce a bill Dec. 6 to amend to the state constitution to require a 45-day "cooling off" period between the governor's signing and legislative consideration of Indian gaming compacts.

"There are still a lot of issues around that casino that we're definitely concerned about," aide Armando Viramontes told the newspaper, citing traffic, environment and social concerns.

Schwarzenegger and the tribe reached agreement in August on what was originally a 5,000-slot facility. That was scaled back by half in the face of overwhelming criticism. The legislature, which was near the end of its 2004 session and had little time to consider the establishment of the state's first unquestionably urban casino, deferred until the upcoming session.

Hancock plans to hold a hearing in January at Contra Costa College, inviting gaming experts, local officials, the Lytton Band and others to speak.