Methamphetamines and casinos were back on the agenda in yesterday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Supervisors revisited these two important issues facing the county, both of which were brought up during a Feb. 13 meeting. They discussed in more depth the creation of a Methamphetamine Enforcement Team to combat the growing drug problem in the county, as well as approved a letter addressed to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger requesting that the county be involved in the possible expansion of Chumash Casino.
During the Feb. 13 meeting, the board heard from numerous speakers concerning the dangers of methamphetamines and the need for increased enforcement against use of the drug. Their requests were granted yesterday, when the board approved recommendations to accept a $350,000 grant from the state for the creation of a Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team.
The main issue up for debate, however, was the possible expansion of Chumash Casino, located on Chumash tribal lands in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Currently, the state legislature is reviewing a bill that would allow several California casinos to increase in size. If the bill passes, Chumash could potentially more than triple the number of slot machines in its facility from 2,000 to 7,000, among other changes.
Many community members spoke out against the expansion during the meeting. One woman said she was concerned with the potential loss of social services, noting that the additional influx of people to the area would cause a rise in accidents and crime that local police forces would be unable to combat.
Fourth District Supervisor Joni Gray, who represents Lompoc and Santa Maria, encouraged those speaking to consider the benefits of expansion. While the casino is not in her district, Gray said her constituents receive great economic benefits from the casino that outweigh the negatives. Gray said she is not necessarily an advocate for casino expansion, but she thinks it could be a positive addition to the community.
Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone asked for a resolution to officially state the county’s stance, which he felt needed to be in opposition to expansion.
“To not send this resolution to the governor would be to not do our duty to the people of the county,” Firestone said.
However, Firestone’s proposed resolution was not seconded, and never went up for a vote. Instead, the board passed a motion to send a letter directly to Governor Schwarzenegger outlining the county’s concerns about expanded casino gambling, as well as requesting that the County of Santa Barbara be included in the negotiations between the state and the Chumash Indians.
In addition, the letter states the county’s plan to conduct a comprehensive study concerning the casino’s impact on the community – an amendment that was added to the letter after public comment.
“We in the community want to be a part of whatever happens. I feel that this request is a completely reasonable one to ask,” Firestone said. “We’re doing our own study into it and feel that the casino could substantially affect everyone in the county.”
The motion passed 4 to 1 with First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal dissenting.